A media conference at the 2017 Australasian Oil & Gas Exhibition & Conference (AOG) has been told that an Australian Joint Industry Project JIP) is aiming to find answers to a unique local problem that is costing local subsea equipment operators millions of dollars a year.

Subsea Equipment Australian Reliability Joint Industry Project (SEAR JIP) is a collaboration between operators and subsea equipment vendors looking into how to deal with environmental aspects that is dramatically reducing the life of specialized subsea equipment located on the bottom of the ocean off the north west coast of Australia.
Leading subsea equipment supplier Wood Group announced at the media conference at  AOG 2017 that it has commenced the next phase of a collaborative industry effort to develop a better understanding of the reliability of subsea equipment for use in offshore Australia.

The SEAR JIP is an initiative led by Wood Group and supported by a group of operators including, Shell, Woodside, INPEX and PTTEP.  Now entering into Phase IV, the project is focused on collaboration and knowledge sharing in order to improve subsea equipment design and reduce the requirement for costly and time consuming interventions in Australia’s challenging offshore warm water environment.

This latest phase of the SEAR JIP will:

  • Facilitate a ‘lessons learned’ forum, where operators will share experience about equipment performance.
  • Deliver a cloud-based reliability database which will permit the assessment of operators’ equipment performance and comparison of vendors’ performance for equipment installed in Australian waters.
  • Deliver a testing programme with two streams; which will benchmark the ability of different subsea electrical cable designs to block gas permeation and migration, and test new technologies to identify its effectiveness to prevent marine fouling.


Bob MacDonald, CEO of Wood Group’s Specialist Technical Solutions business said the project is delivering a tangible step-change through strong industry collaboration, bringing together the broad expertise and experience of subsea operators, vendors and Australian research institutions to stimulate new solutions for the sector’s reliability challenges.

“In addition, our subsea business is using our data analytics capabilities to help improve reliability, and we hope to be able to combine these learnings with the SEAR programme.”

Adriana Botto, Wood Group’s project manager for the SEAR JIP, said the focus is on generating significant cost savings by improving subsea equipment reliability through collaboration and knowledge sharing.

“The initial phase of the SEAR JIP underlined how important the issue of subsea reliability is and that significant cost savings could be made by mitigating issues with subsea equipment and reducing the requirement for intervention campaigns.

“This latest phase of the project will deepen our understanding of how we can enhance the design of subsea equipment to avoid time consuming and costly interventions. Harnessing the lessons learned from the SEAR JIP will position us to identify the root cause of equipment performance issues so that they can be designed out by vendors in the future.”

Harvey Smith, Subsea Control TA, at Woodside, told a media conference at AOG that the significantly higher ambient water temperatures off the north-west coast of Australia have created a unique issue for local operators, with some subsea modules failing significanty quicker than in other parts of the world.


He told the conference that Woodside had installed specialised subsea equipment in its newest offshore WA project which it is hoped will have a significantly increased operating life.

Woodside, is a major supporter of the SEAR JIP and Ms Botto said their vast experience of operating subsea developments has been invaluable.

Christopher Merrick, a senior subsea engineer with PTTEP-AA, said the higher temperatures also lead to an increased impact from marine growth, which can not only effect the life of the equipment, but potentially impact field production.

The replacement of a subsea module off the local coast can cost between $1 million and $2.5 million at a time, and with the field life of the equipment there often close to two thirds less than other parts of the world, it can be a major additional cost for local operating companies.

The SEAR JIP is looking to produce a “white paper” on the local issues and the answers to them within the next few years.