Adaptive Control of Subsea Processes (PhD)

Adaptive Control of Subsea Processes (PhD)

Most processes in the oil and gas industry, whether subsea or topside, are in need of some sort of control. Many variables like liquid level, pressure and flow rate are influencing the quality of the product and the operators need to be able to manipulate these variables. While some of this manipulation can be performed manually, some require, or can be significantly improved by automatic control. Operators can choose a set point for operation and the control system ensures that the variable converges to, or at least stays close to, this set point, including taking into account safety margins and hardware constraints.

Design of the automatic control systems is challenging, both scientifically and practically, due to the complex behaviour frequently seen in subsea processes. Designing these advanced automatic control algorithms is the goal of this subproject.

In this subproject, we will investigate control of several hydrocyclone separators in series to improve the quality of produced water, dampen slugs in risers to prevent overloading topside equipment, control compact flotation units (CFUs) for separation of oil and water, and other related  topics.

A traditional control system would need continuous, expensive and time-consuming re-tuning by specially trained personnel to cope with the complexities and uncertain behaviour. Control may even be impossible. The advanced control algorithms we will design as a part of this project will be able to handle the complexities and uncertainties in a truly autonomous manner and obviate the need for re-tuning.

We believe advanced control methods, like non-linear and adaptive control, provide the most suited approach for subsea processes. To validate the developed methods and improve the quality of research, we are building a small-scale subsea process control laboratory that will include hydrocyclones, bulk separation, coalescing pumps and other compact separation systems.