Opinion: A Subsea System Approach to Project Design

By embracing a system approach, it can provide a degree of consistency, certainty and cost control—all valuable commodities at a time of rapid change as we march on to new horizons.

Baker Hughes Aptara subsea system provides shorter lead times, lowering initial capex and ensuring opex savings over the life of a field. (Source: Baker Hughes)

Anyone who has taken the wheel of a top-of-the-range Audi after driving around in the family Seat will tell you that the (often substantial) price differential is reflected in every aspect of the experience. It can be hard to believe they are manufactured by the same company. Harder still is the fact that somewhere between 60% and 80% of the component parts are standardized across all marques and models. These range from the aforementioned Seat, thought to Porsche, Bentley and even Bugatti. Product structuring at its finest! 

The auto industry has been driving efficiencies into the manufacturing and supply chains for decades, setting benchmarks for just-in-time, lean processes that are enthusiastically emulated by other manufacturers. However, similar cost and resource efficiencies have eluded the oil and gas industry, which has equipment manufacturing processes that have evolved far more gently. 

There are, of course, glaring differences between engineering equipment to order for a unique project and the assembly-line production of consumer goods—regardless of how highly specified and engineered they are. Nonetheless, there is something to be gained from looking at the auto sector: the use of structured products and a system approach. 

This is an idea that is being adapted to the subsea sector by Baker Hughes and others to help optimize field viability, efficiency and lifetime productivity. It is also an approach that more and more operators are asking for as they move farther offshore and into deeper waters to find exploitable fields while their margins tighten.

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