An innovative new subsea controls architecture that hugely simplifies how new fields and carbon capture and storage (CCS) sites can be developed and expanded has been announced as the winner of this year’s prestigious Underwater Technology Conference (UTC) Award.

Alcatel Submarine Networks’ (ASN) DC/FO subsea power and communications solution combines subsea controls and power in a single, open-standard and standardised high voltage DC and fibre optic cable, reducing the cost and complexities involved in traditional and often more bespoke umbilical cable solutions.

The same standard cross section can be used to deliver 100 kW of power over distances in excess of 300 km to any subsea production system supplied equipment. It unlocks new capability, such as underwater drones and all-electric trees and thanks to easy to implement standardized joints, field extensions are also simplified and lower cost, enabling phased developments.

The technology, which builds on technologies originally developed for submarine telecommunications, saw its first deployment last year, at Equinor’s Johan Castberg field development in the Barents Sea. Since deployment at Johan Castberg, the technology has also been chosen for several more field developments and projects, including the Breidablikk subsea field development and the Northern Lights CCS project.

It is also helping to supporting ocean science, as part of the IDMAR project in Sicily in a 3,500 m deep deployment. Equinor has patent in subsea well concept solutions applying the DC/FO technology.

The prize, which is designed to recognize, celebrate and showcase the many outstanding achievements within the global subsea industry, was awarded to joint winners ASN and technology co-developer Equinor at tonight’s UTC dinner, held at the Grieghallen in Bergen, Norway.

Receiving the UTC Award were Ronan Michel, DC/FO product line manager at ASN, Marc Genot, VP O&G Business Unit at ASN, and Karl Atle Stenevik - Equinor Specialist, Subsea Umbilicals and Cables.

Marc Genot, ASN VP O&G Business Unit says "DC/FO Technology is the result of a long-term partnership between ASN, a market leader on submarine telecommunication, and Equinor, a major Energy Operator. On behalf of ASN I'd like to thank Equinor for having made the considerable efforts that were necessary to enable a non-O&G company initially unfamiliar with the expectations of the O&G industry to deliver a solution that is relevant to the needs of this industry.
“ASN has long-standing expertise and field proven track record on the design of long distance subsea optical fiber systems and the design, manufacture and deployment of high reliability subsea products operating up to 8000 m water depth. Under Equinor’s guidance and support, ASN has leveraged on this expertise to develop and qualify DC/FO Technology, now adopted on Equinor projects and available to the O&G industry."

Also recognised, from the ASN team, are Florence Palacios, Ghislaine Vareille, Rodolph Audebert, Laurent Boeglin, Romuald Lemaitre, Thierry Verhaege and Jean-François Marcerou. UTC Award jury chair Bjørn Søgård presents this year’s award to Ronan Michel, DC/FO product line manager, and Karl Atle Stenevik – Equinor Specialist, Subsea Umbilicals and Cables.

Karl Atle Stenevik , Equinor Specialist, Subsea Umbilicals and Cables says "The DC/FO Technology was originally developed due to subsea control power and step-out limitations. However, the technology has proven competitive also on fields without such limitations. The main reasons are higher tie-back capacity (number of wells), simplifications towards host facilities and a high level of standardisation. Equinor has been the main funder and co-developer of the DC/FO technology since 2010, where TRL4 was passed in 2015."

Also recognized from Equinor are Trond Bertmand and Nicola Chiesa.

UTC Award jury chair Bjørn Søgård says "This year, we had the strongest list of candidates yet, in the history of the UTC Award. In making the award to ASN, the jury recognises what a great example of technology uptake into the oil and gas upstream industry, building on technology from other industries.
We also recognise that this technology will also be an enabler for quicker industry uptake for other emerging technologies, such as all-electric subsea trees and underwater intervention drones. With applications towards carbon capture and storage, ASN’s entry also reflected well on this year’s UTC theme, Subsea leading the way in the energy transition.
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