Innovation and collaboration: Norway’s tools to stay on top of the oil and gas industry

SUBPRO exemplifies how the Norwegian model bridges the divides between industry and academia—with governmental support from the Research Council of Norway.

A government agency backing academic research isn’t out of the ordinary. SUBPRO, though, has quite a unique makeup: The research center resides at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) and is supported by not one, but several major international companies.

“This is a very good opportunity for the involved departments at NTNU to work closely with the industry, but also for our PhD students. They can discuss their research directly with industry representatives with extensive expertise from the subsea field, and also get real data from that can be used in their research,” says Gro Mogseth, Technical Coordinator at SUBPRO.

Short for Subsea Production and Processing, SUBPRO was established in 2015 and is scheduled to run for eight years, until 2023. It is a Center for Research-based Innovation, a program promoted by the Research Council of Norway to strengthen research groups that collaborate with partners from industry and public enterprises.

The SUBPRO Program will have two sessions during the 2018 Tekna Separation Technology conference, and many of the industry’s leading players will be in attendance. The annual event takes place in Stavanger on 16-17 October.

Sign up for Tekna’s Separation Technology 2018 conference!

Seeing the big picture

“Even though the industry has been working with subsea production and processing for several decades, there is still an opportunity for an academic institution like NTNU to contribute in creating new solutions,” says Mogseth.

Among SUBPRO’s industry partners, we find companies such as Equinor, Aker BP, DNV GL, Neptune Energy Norge AS, VNG Norge and Lundin Norway. The Norwegian industry has been leading in the field of subsea oil and gas production since the middle of the 1980’s, but according to Mogseth, the needs for innovation are ever present.

“Industrial companies often have their resources tied to specific projects with strict timelines. but in a center like SUBPRO we have the opportunity to look at the industry challenges in ways they cannot,” she says.

In other words, the researchers in SUBPRO both have the opportunity to see the big picture in the field of subsea production and processing, while also having the possibility to go into details on for instance separation.

SUBPRO utilizes both new and existing laboratory facilities at the NTNU Department of Chemical Engineering in their research, and they’re currently building two new test rigs at the Department of Geoscience and Petroleum Engineering and the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering. At the moment, there’s 25 PhD and postdoctoral researchers tied to the research center working full-time with subsea related projects, supervised by 18 professors.

Add to this the world-class subsea competence and experience provided by the industry partners, and you have a quite unique combination of expertise.

“The collaboration with the industry partners is very good, and we’re working closely with them on several projects. Hopefully, our results will lead to real-life applications,” says Mogseth.

A common understanding

And that’s the main goal of SUBPRO—to further innovate within the field of subsea production and processing.

“We are already on track to becoming an internationally leading research center within this area. Our goal is to perform research that will lead to several new innovations and in addition educate highly competent master and PhD students that will benefit the industry,” says Mogseth.

Since 2015, the SUBPRO Program has produced a long list of results and publications, targeting numerous challenges related to subsea field development, reliability and safety, process control and separation of oil, gas, and water.

A couple of their separation projects will be presented at the Tekna Separation Technology 2018 conference in October. One of them deals with the impact of turbulence on oil droplet breakage, while the other will present details on an experimental facility where they perform research on compact bulk oil-water separation.

“I believe that collaboration between industry and academia, supported by the Research Council of Norway, leads to better solutions than if we keep our work to ourselves. I think that everyone has something to gain from working together,” says Mogseth.

The Tekna Separation Technology 2018 conference takes place in Stavanger on 16-17 October.

Sign up for the Tekna Separation Technology 2018 conference!

Learn more about SUBPRO’s research by checking out their website.

Publisert: 6. september 2018