Joint Industry Project Successfully Tests Subsea Variable Speed Drive


The Joint Industry Project team has successfully attained variable speed drive (VSD) in a subsea processing facility pushing boundaries of traditional project development. The test is the latest in a series of joint efforts made by Total, Statoil, ABB, and Chevron under the Joint Industry Project (JIP) initiated in 2013.

Success of Variable Speed Drive to Boost Development of Novel Systems

The test carried out in Vaasa, Finland successfully tested the first full size prototype of a subsea variable speed drive. A VSD is required to improve the productivity of processes, boost energy efficiency, and slash maintenance costs of electric gear. The JIP plans to develop transmission, power conversion, and distribution systems for subsea gas compressors and pumps, which operate at 3,000 meters deep water and over great distances. The system that furnishes large power closer to the reservoir, helps improve production due to increased flow and pressure of the stream.

Designed for subsea gas compression, the subsea variable speed drive was carried out in a back-to-back configuration over a period of three weeks in November 2017. Denoted as ‘power-in-the loop’ test, the system involves supplying only some hundred kilowatts of losses from the grid. The water test was conducted successfully and all the set targets were achieved. The operation has been demonstrated to be successful in several high stress conditions, which underlines the ability of the developer to push technology to its limits.

Included in the subsea VSD is a pressure compensated design, wherein all power components are cooled by submerging in oil. The success of water test proved that electronic and power components can satisfy thermal performance as required.

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