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Green Technology from UK Revolutionises Clean Sea Standards


A Surrey-based company with research and development facilities in Orkney, has made a breakthrough in green oilfield technology which has revolutionised international clean sea standards.

Specialist firm Opus, which has its headquarters in Guildford, has solved a problem of purifying ‘produced water’ – pumped in high volumes through pipelines with heavy crude oil to enable extraction – to advanced levels.

The purification process perfected by Opus for this ‘produced water’ has achieved results significantly above industry norms and massively under-cut progressive international regulations.

The company’s purpose-built separation plant, processing thousands of cubic metres of produced water daily, has achieved output levels of less than eight parts of oil per million – several times better than the contracted target of 28 parts per million.

The Compact Flotation Unit is installed on the FPSO Maersk Peregrino, (floating production, storage and off-take vessel) serving the two platforms on the Peregrino field, commissioned last year off Rio de Janeiro, and has a production capacity of 100,000 barrels a day.

With estimated recoverable oil of up to 600 million barrels, the Peregrino field is the biggest operated by Statoil outside Norway.

Opus – whose motto is ‘Results Delivered’ – had the device built, installed, tested and commissioned against a tight timescale and then optimised the process to achieve the ‘above-spec’ quality of water being discharged back to the sea.

The company’s Director of Strategic Operations, Glen McLellan, said: “At Maersk Peregrino, we were told by the client that our installation and services were the smoothest part of the production vessel’s topsides (above-surface components) development.

“Between that and the superb performance of our equipment, we are making sure we live up to our aim to not only deliver results but to continuously develop our technologies and services to stay ahead of the field.”

The CFU is the fourth such unit to be deployed internationally by Opus, whose specialist design and project management activity is run from the Guildford base, working closely with their research and development facility on the Orkney ‘oil-hub’ island of Flotta in Scotland.

Anne Milton, MP for Guildford, said: “This is a great local business story for Guildford. I understand Opus have developed groundbreaking technology in this important field.

“I gather Opus are now leading the world in finding solutions to complex technological challenges and setting new standards in an very challenging environment.”

Noting that Opus has created their technology in Surrey and Orkney, the Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said: "This technology developed by Opus is an example of the sort of innovative thinking Scotland excels in, and I wish them every success."

Particularly suited to production vessels as well as rigs, being unusually robust and unaffected by motion in the sea, the CFU uses three separation techniques, combining gas flotation (in which oil droplets attach to tiny bubbles), droplet coalescence (pulling tiny droplets together into removable accumulations), and cyclonic separation (use of a vortex to force oil and gas components into a stream for ejection).

The high-performance technology is further improved when coupled with another Opus innovation, the ‘Mare’s Tail’® which uses fibre to catch and combine oil droplets.

Opus separation technologies have been installed on fixed and floating installations by companies including BP, Hess, Total, Statoil and Maersk.

In addition to the ’coalescer’ technology, Opus provides solutions to a range of process and environmental needs for oil and gas producers, including fluids analysis, process upgrades and marine ecotoxicity testing.

Green Technology from UK Revolutionises Clean Sea Standards