In the drive for remote operations, reducing operator costs and reducing emissions and CO2, digitalization of sensors and control systems is imperative. To date, valves on wellheads and trees have predominantly been controlled by hydraulic actuators that are not ideally suited for fully remote operations.
A new, innovative, electric actuator has been developed under a Joint Industry Project (JIP) by Equinor, Baker Hughes and TECHNI. This actuator is designed for fail-safe, critical operations offshore and is subject to stringent safety design requirements. The key motivation is reducing CAPEX and OPEX for offshore installations, while increasing availability of wells while providing improved monitoring and condition based, predictive maintenance.
The electric actuator that was developed in the program has a patent pending fail-safe mechanism with extremely fast closing time (less than 1 second) to ensure well containment during critical situations. The actuator is designed to be a drop-in replacement for NoBolt™ CHA actuator solutions and is suitable for most standard wellhead and tree designs, sizes and pressure ratings. In the new all-electric design, a multitude of sensors in combination with an OPC-UA architecture, enables data-driven insights from the systems in operation.
The program was started in 2017 and has resulted in a system at Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 4 (on 0 to 7 scale) with TRL 5 testing planned in 2020 yielding it ready for field installation.