Subsea power grids to help oil and gas companies

As the demand for oil and gas rises, resources for on land drilling are depleting. As a result, many oil and gas companies have moved to offshore drilling fields, and with that move comes its own set of problems, including enormous hydrostatic pressure and the costly and dangerous recovering of oil and gas from the bottom of the ocean to land.

Siemens (Munich, Germany), an electrical engineering company, has been working with subsea power grids to enable the commercial viability of these offshore fields that will be brought on stream in the coming years in places such as North American, South America and West Africa.

These subsea power grids can be deployed in water depths of as much as 3,000 meters (1.86 miles) and helps in closing the recovery gap, which opens the way for a more reliable and safe offshore drilling environment, according to Siemens.

In these subsea power grids, power cables, transformers, switchgear and variable speed drives power and control electrical driven pumps, separators and other processing equipment. The necessary power is provided by an industrial onshore or topside combined cycle power plant remote to the subsea facility.

Siemens has two new subsea competence centers in Houston, Texas and Rio de Janeiro in addition to its original center in Trondheim, Norway. The Subsea power grid is set to be deployed in 2012.

Siemens anticipates that the subsea power grid market will see a double digit growth especially in power grid applications, to become a multi billion market in 2020.

This March, Siemens announced that it had entered into an agreement to acquire two subsea specialists, Poseidon Group AS (Stavanger, Norway) and Bennex Group AS (Bergen, Norway), from subsea Technology Group AS, Norway.

Bennex, a supplier of subsea distribution (hydraulic and electrical) systems, fiber optic, electromagnetic and seismic applications, will provide Siemens with the equipment needed to run the Subsea power grids.

Poseidon, a subsea engineering and consulting company, will aim to marinize existing Siemens equipment and technology to subsea environments, such as subsea control systems, transformers, switchgears, electric motors and automation, along with other complementary elements such as cameras and subsea electric valve actuators.

“Subsea processing is a fast growing and technologically challenging part of upstream Oil & Gas,” said Tom Blades, CEO of Siemens Oil & Gas Division. “With the acquisition of Poseidon and Bennex, Siemens has taken a major step to strengthen its in-house capabilities in marinization, subsea engineering and consulting and assert itself as the leading developer of subsea power grid solutions on the back of its traditional electrical engineering core-competence.”

The purchase price was never disclosed. The combined revenue of the two companies was approximately $105 million. Poseidon has a workforce of 140 employees and consultants in Stavanger and Aberdeen, while Bennex has about 160 employees in Norway, Scotland and the U.S.

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