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The Zohr subsea production system, around 180 km off the coast of Egypt in 1,500-m water depth, was configured with a novel metering system providing the necessary functionalities for optimized hydrate inhibition. Different subsea measurements from startup and normal production phases were obtained and combined to extract valuable information regarding water production and to monitor hydrate inhibitor dosage in real time.
Conventional hydrate inhibition system overdesign and overdosage would have had a significant impact on the technical and financial viability of the Zohr development, considering that no monoethylene glycol (MEG) regeneration capability was available at startup due to the fast-track nature of the project. Therefore, it was critical to limit the use of MEG, selected as hydrate inhibitor, in order to manage the available storage capacity.
A data interpretation model was developed for the subsea water analysis sensor based on flow loop testing and analytical methods, allowing for real-time measurement of the MEG dosage for each well. Flow assurance modeling was performed to validate subsea measurements, and to explore model limitations and enhancements.
Field data comparisons provided unprecedented insight into unexpected reservoir behavior several weeks faster than measuring fluids arriving onshore, considering the 220-km tieback distance. Indeed, the produced fluids at startup contained water at an order of magnitude more than initially expected, which would normally have resulted in underinhibition and a possible hydrate blockage risk. The subsea measurement system allows for MEG dosage to be monitored and injection flow rates to be adjusted in real time, from the first day of production, to respond to the fluids produced subsea. With only two wells initially producing in a 26-in, 220-km-long flowline, up to 5 weeks were required until produced water was received onshore for sampling. Data analytics were applied to validate the measurements obtained, identify trends, and anticipate onshore fluid arrival conditions weeks in advance. The field data also allowed to identify areas requiring improvement and to specify additional functionality development needs.
The use of innovative subsea metering and measurement systems has enabled a safe startup of the field while meeting the first-gas target date. This is the first time in the industry that a direct hydrate inhibitor concentration monitoring and control, aimed at real-time hydrate management, has been achieved subsea for gas fields. The success of this innovative application of a subsea water analysis sensor was made possible through an unusual level of collaboration and openness between the field operators and subsea hardware providers. The cooperation that occurred on the Zohr Field development, from early engineering activities to operational support, has allowed for the combined team to advance the data interpretation models, improve the concept and obtain great value from the subsea measurements. This pioneering application of subsea technology is a game changer that will enable unlocking additional long-distance deepwater gas reserves.