Increasing investment in offshore reserves by exploration and production companies to meet energy demand has resulted in increasing offshore production activities. There are various methods to produce oil and gas from offshore reserves including FPSO (floating production storage and offloading) vessels and subsea production. The subsea switchgear market is driven by the growth of the subsea installations market. Subsea production units are expected to be more favorable due to its various advantages over other offshore production systems. Subsea systems are capable of operating in harsh environmental conditions such as the Arctic. These systems will eliminate the need of an offshore production facility and will also provide cost benefits when compared with a huge production platform which results in huge operating cost. This also eliminates the need of long power lines ultimately results in less expenditure. The first ever subsea power distribution system to go into operation was the Ormen Lange pilot in Egersund Norway.
Subsea units will use high voltage distribution equipment to operate the subsea systems. The earlier subsea facility was powered from the surface making it reliable but very costly. In order to reduce the operational cost, companies started to place the electricity distribution system on the seabed. This resulted in cost reduction but the reliability was not hampered. Thus the electrical equipment are now located near the electricity generation facility which is a common practice in onshore facilities. Improved and reliable technology is required to overcome the subsea installation constraints such as high pressure and presence of salt water. System aspects plays an important role in selecting the individual devices in order to be sure that the devices are fit for all operating conditions. The switchgear is an important component for subsea power grid.
The subsea switchgear market can be segmented on the basis of voltage into extreme high voltage (EHV), ultra high voltage (UHV), high voltage (HV), medium voltage (MV) and low voltage (LV). Subsea high and low voltage switchgear is a key enabling component for subsea processing units. The majority of connections between different equipments are made by using the low voltage switchgear cubicles. In order to reduce the length of HV busbar and its support system, the HV equipment are placed together. The transformers are installed between HV circuit breakers and LV cubicles making it a symmetrical installation.
Rising oil prices are boosting the confidence of oil companies to invest such amount in deepwater drilling and production facilities. This investment is expected to increase in the near future with the increasing energy demand and depleting onshore oil reserves. Increasing deep and ultra deep water drilling activity is increasing the demand of subsea production facilities which ultimately drive the subsea switchgear market. An enormous opportunity lies with the vast number of unexplored deep and ultra deep reserves across the globe which will require subsea installation. The Golden Triangle constituting of GOM (the gulf of Mexico), Brazil and West Africa is expected to be the most attractive region for offshore oil and gas production during the forecast period.
Some of the key players in subsea switchgear market include ABB Limited, Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems Americas, Inc., Siemens AG, Schneider Electric, Aker Solutions, Pelamis Wave Power Ltd., Cameron International Corporation, General Electric Company and FMC Technologies, Inc. among others.