Take A Look Inside ABB’s INSUBSEA Industrial Automation Operation

Offshore natural gas production continue to increase each year, and ABB is working hard to innovate the automation process involved in subsea industrial systems.






ABB Undersea Controls System (Image Credit: ABB)

The company recently tested its latest power system over a period of 3,000 hours, marking a significant development in industrial technologies for offshore drilling. The new power system is a new addition to the company’s INSUBSEA systems, a set of underwater control solutions designed for submerged systems - particularly those in oil and gas.

Subsea Systems

Underwater systems necessitate specialized technologies due to the unique need for submersible equipment that maintains a minimal downtime.  Longevity in the undersea environment, the system’s ability to handle pressure and function at various depths, as well as the question of maintenance procedures are all important considerations for subsea systems.

To address these concerns, ABB has created the INSUBSEA program, through which the company is designing reliable controls for underwater industrial systems. The program allows for the integration of products from different vendors into unitary systems that work together in tandem on the sea floor.

ABB is continually revolutionizing it’s control systems to meet the needs of subsea industrial operations. Prior to the INSUBSEA project, master and distributed control systems (DCS) were often separate from systems specifically designed for underwater applications. Today, ABB has begun to integrate systems for a wider variety of applications, an advancement that allows for increased efficiency and simplicity in automation.

As the concept of “interoperability” continues to gain popularity in IT and the automation sector, ABB is keeping pace by designing controls that are suitable for harsh underwater environments. ABB is aiming to make the subsea systems resulting from the INSUBSEA project available later this year.

Powering Undersea Systems

A significant obstacle in subsea production is the difficulty in providing power to offshore gas and oil rigs. Diesel and gas powered generators are a common solution being employed in the industry, with undersea cables as the only viable alternative currently in existence, which connect the rigs to on shore power systems.

Power transmission and generation are a key component of ABB’s new systems development. The company has created true subsea power systems that can transmit power over great distances at sea, as well as to seabed industrial systems.

In Vaasa, Finland, the company unveiled its newest power system, which is capable  of supplying up to 100mw at sea over a distance of 600 KM. Once deployed, the company says the system requires little to no maintenance for up to 30 years. This innovative tech solves a longstanding logistical issue for the oil and gas industry. 

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