Subsea Valve Control
As hydrocarbon prices rise and reserves decline, low pressure deep sea wells
becomes increasingly economic. KSC's client produces advanced hardware to
successfully exploit such wells: world leading hydrocarbon-recovery systems
designed to operate at depths of many hundreds of meters.
Traditionally such machinery has been hydraulically driven, requiring a
series of valves to be manually controlled in sequence according to written
procedures. KSC's client developed one of the first such systems controlled
KSC was requested to deliver the control software in the form of a windows
application. Physically, the control system resides in a boat, integrated n the
control room with video feeds and ROV control systems and communicating with the
subsea electromechanical systems via an umbilical from the surface to the ocean
Key benefits of the control software came from the automation of complex,
sequential valve-control operations. Also, safety was enhanced by robust
interlock logic that avoids inadvertent harm to personnel, environment or
The user is presented with a mimic of the actual device that allows them to control the
various parts with the mouse. Once initiated, the mimic animates the control to
reflect what is happening on the actual hardware in real-time.
Whilst in operation the application continuously displays real-time readings
of all pressure, temperature and voltage sensors. Alarms are clearly displayed
on an alarm panel and logged, along with the sensor readings and a list of all
actions performed in the system. An audit trail can be easily generated.
Due to the harsh and remote nature of the hydrocarbon recovery operations,
the software was required to be extremely reliable and able to handle all
failure scenarios. For example, communications with the subsea hardware is
continually monitored and any loss of communication causes the machinery to
close down. A key driver behind the success of this project was an extensive
commitment to testing: on KSC's part via a large and comprehensive automatic
regression testing system, and on the client's part via a purpose-built hardware
simulator and deployment of expert personnel.