DOE selects projects aimed at reducing ultra-deepwater drilling risks

November 23, 2011 - via Department of Energy

The US Department of Energy’s Office of Fossil Energy (FE) has selected six new natural gas and oil research projects aimed at reducing risks and enhancing the environmental performance of drilling in ultra-deepwater settings.

The projects have been selected for negotiation leading to awards totaling $9.6 million, and will add to the research portfolio for FE’s Ultra-Deepwater and Unconventional Natural Gas and Other Petroleum Resources Program.

Research needs addressed by the projects include the prevention of uncontrolled oil flow through new and better ways to cement well casing, and using coil tubing to intervene and control flow if necessary. Other research includes the development of 3-D laser imaging inspection and monitoring devices deployable via autonomous underwater vehicles, enhanced capability for indirectly measuring multiphase flow rate through a conduit, more effective, all-electric, deepwater safety systems, and improved design for offshore facilities.

Their total value is more than $26.4 million over 3 years, with approximately $16.8 million of cost-share provided by the research partners in addition to the $9.6 million in federal funds. The research contracts will be administered by the Research Partnership to Secure Energy for America (RPSEA), under the management of the Office of Fossil Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory. The projects selected include:

Lockheed Martin (Houston, Texas) — Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) Inspection Using a 3D Laser. Lockheed Martin researchers will demonstrate that an AUV with advanced autonomy and sensors can perform subsea structural inspection tasks up to four times more efficiently than remotely operated vehicles or divers, reduce the surface operational footprint by 75percent, and eliminate the need for large surface support vessels. The proposed AUV-laser detection and ranging system, a marriage of currently existing components, will be taken through an extended offshore test and made ready for commercial use by the end of the project. DOE share: $1,649,868; Recipient share: $412,468; Duration: 2 years


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