Ove Ronny Haraldsen
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Extraction of oil and gas carries the risk of emissions of several types of environmental toxins. In principle, the target is zero emissions. However, in the event of an accident, it is essential to detect any emissions as quickly as possible. Traditionally, the oil companies have travelled out to the platforms by boat and taken samples of fish, shellfish and sediments in order to monitor the impact of any emissions of chemicals or spills from wells and reservoirs.
“Today, oil companies carry out environmental monitoring by boat every three years and it takes nine months to receive the report. The reports provide sufficient documentation of the environmental conditions, but do not allow us as operators to initiate measures at an early stage so we can minimise any negative impact on the environment,” explains Knut Rostad, Communication Leader at Statoil.
Things are now set to change, as Statoil and KONGSBERG, along with several other companies, have joined forces to develop a system which carries out real time monitoring of the environment around a platform. By making use of a number of sensors, oil companies will be able to detect emissions at a very early stage. “We call this Integrated Environmental Monitoring (IEM),” explains Arild Brevik from Kongsberg Maritime Subsea.
By combining real time environmental data and operational data, it is much more simple to detect leaks and to initiate an immediate reaction. The sensors can gauge physical, biological and chemical data. These sensors include cameras, acoustic sensors and equipment with sniffers designed to detect chemical components.
Today, KONGSBERG is already the leading supplier of subsea systems and instrumentation for use of acoustics as a means of wireless transfers. Years of experience of systemsfor fishing research and systems for control and collection of data from sensors using wireless systems qualify KONGSBERG as a strong partner on this project.
“KONGSBERG’s main aim with this project is to develop and make use of existing technology to generate a completely integrated environmental monitoring system which can be made available to otheroperators. The hope is that the authorities will also recognise the importance of this system and make Integrated Environmental Monitoring a standard requirement for operations in vulnerable areas,” continues Mr. Brevik.
The agreement with Statoil assigns responsibility to KONGSBERG for making the system available on a commercial market. “This is a special project in that Statoil and KONGSBERG are to cooperate to launch IEM on the market and sell the system to other parties,” explains Chief Technology Officer, Erik Glende from Kongsberg Oil & Gas Technologies.
Integrated Environmental Monitoring is a system which can be utilised both prior to and after operations in vulnerable areas. The sensors can be positioned on the seabed and provide the oil companies with a status report on environmental conditions before, during and after extraction is completed.
“An individual area will have an environmental profile prior to any developments there. There may have already been substances discharged to the waters before development starts. Reservoirs are knownto leak, without any form of drilling whatsoever. This preliminary survey is only part of the system’s capacity. You can actually install this system prior to any other type of installation,” explains Mr. Glende, going on to add: “This provides you with full control of the entire time cycle.”
An additional target is to develop IEM so that it can handle environmental monitoring before, during and after a seabed operation. Statoil has high expectations for the system. IEM is in fact the world’s very first environmental monitoring project and involves simultaneous testing of a number of components in an online sensor system which are to be integrated as part of daily operations.
“Integrated Environmental Monitoring will be particularly relevant as an increasing share of production takes place subsea and in areas at vast distances from any infrastructure, as in the high north. IEM will allow us to stop production or development for precise periods of time, for example during periods when the environment is extra sensitive,” concludes Knut Rostad, Communications Leader at Statoil.