Articles | Volume 372
12 Nov 2015
 | 12 Nov 2015

Subsidence monitoring system for offshore applications: technology scouting and feasibility studies

R. Miandro, C. Dacome, A. Mosconi, and G. Roncari

Abstract. Because of concern about possible impacts of hydrocarbon production activities on coastal-area environments and infrastructures, new hydrocarbon offshore development projects in Italy must submit a monitoring plan to Italian authorities to measure and analyse real-time subsidence evolution. The general geological context, where the main offshore Adriatic fields are located, is represented by young unconsolidated terrigenous sediments. In such geological environments, sea floor subsidence, caused by hydrocarbon extraction, is quite probable. Though many tools are available for subsidence monitoring onshore, few are available for offshore monitoring. To fill the gap ENI (Ente Nazionale Idrocarburi) started a research program, principally in collaboration with three companies, to generate a monitoring system tool to measure seafloor subsidence. The tool, according to ENI design technical-specification, would be a robust long pipeline or cable, with a variable or constant outside diameter (less than or equal to 100 mm) and interval spaced measuring points. The design specifications for the first prototype were: to detect 1 mm altitude variation, to work up to 100 m water depth and investigation length of 3 km. Advanced feasibility studies have been carried out with: Fugro Geoservices B.V. (Netherlands), D'Appolonia (Italy), Agisco (Italy).

Five design (using three fundamental measurements concepts and five measurement tools) were explored: cable shape changes measured by cable strain using fiber optics (Fugro); cable inclination measured using tiltmeters (D'Appolonia) and measured using fiber optics (Fugro); and internal cable altitude-dependent pressure changes measured using fiber optics (Fugro) and measured using pressure transducers at discrete intervals along the hydraulic system (Agisco). Each design tool was analysed and a rank ordering of preferences was performed. The third method (measurement of pressure changes), with the solution proposed by Agisco, was deemed most feasible. Agisco is building the first prototype of the tool to be installed in an offshore field in the next few years.

This paper describes design of instruments from the three companies to satisfy the design specification.