Production of oil & gas from the known, old, and mature fields has started declining. As a result, companies are now seeking newer fields. These fields are located in deeper waters as compared to the mature fields. They are situated in the less explored locations of the world such as Latin America, West Africa, and the North Sea. SURF is primarily employed in these deep offshore fields. SURF helps connect the surface systems and subsea production. In line with this objective, SURF can be divided into two parts: umbilicals, and risers and flowlines.
Umbilical is the connective medium between the surface equipment and subsea equipment. The Umbilical Termination Structure (UTS) facilitates transportation of services such as electric power, chemicals, telecommunications, and instructions to various subsea equipment. These services reach the various subsea equipment through flying leads, which are basically common extension cords. Umbilicals are designed for static as well as dynamic applications; demand for the latter has been rising due to the increase in depth of fields. The raw material or composition of the cable also changes as per project requirement. Cables are available in the form of hoses, steel tubes, power and optical umbilicals, and composite umbilicals. Demand for steel tubes is rising due to their enhanced response times and ability to handle higher pressures.
Flowlines are used to transport unprocessed fluids from the subsea well to the riser pipeline. They are sometimes considered part of a larger pipeline network consisting of flowlines, riser, extension cords, and other pipes. However, flowlines retain distinctive characteristics primarily owing to their function of being the import line or production line for unprocessed fluids. Risers are used to connect flowlines back to the surface facility. These set of pipelines are available in various diameters, ranging from under one inch to more than 10 inches. This partly depends upon the depth of the offshore fields and the consequent pressure the pipes are subjected to.
Another important categorization for the SURF market is the depth of the offshore field. This includes shallow water, deep water, and ultra-deep water, depending upon the location of the offshore field. Demand for deep water and ultra-deep water SURF has been increasing due to the depletion of mature fields. Development of complex oil & gas processing equipment such as Floating Production Storage and Offloading (FPSO) units and Floating Production Units (FPU) has also enabled the development of deep water fields. This has been boosting the deep water and ultra-deep water segment.
Consistent increase in demand for oil & gas across the world is expected to continue driving the demand for SURF. However, demand for gas is likely to rise faster as compared to that for oil in the near future. On the other hand, demand for various other chemicals is anticipated to stay constant in the next few years. The SURF market is estimated to largely follow the trend of demand for oil & gas across the globe. Demand for oil & gas is largely dependent upon the economic growth of countries; thus, the market for SURF is also directly affected by this dynamic.
In terms of region, market share of several new areas such as South America, the Gulf of Mexico, and Africa is projected to rise in the near future. Prominent companies operating in the SURF market include TechnipFMC, Aker Solutions, Saipem SpA, Subsea 7, and ABB.
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