The days of easy oil are over for everybody. Increasingly, producers are facing the challenges of recovering oil and gas from depleted or dispersed fields. To make things even more challenging, many new offshore reservoirs are more than 3000 meters below the surface.  How do you process this oil when it is so difficult to reach?

Editor's note: John Sealander is an employee of Siemens Energy. Siemens is a sponsor of The Energy Collective.

Surface producers often take the necessity of a power grid for granted.  Of course, you need pumps and compressors and large variable speed drives to transport the oil and gas from the wellhead to a processing facility. Until recently, it hasn’t been possible for producers in deepwater fields to do the same type of large-scale processing using underwater pipeline networks. The technology simply didn’t exist. The oil and gas always needed to be brought to the surface first before it could be transported to a processing facility.

Siemens changed all this last year with the introduction of the world’s first subsea power grid. This revolutionary technology has been a game changer for deepwater producers in Brazil, Nigeria, Malaysia and other locations around the world. Now, utilizing the capabilities provided by an integrated subsea power grid, these producers can build an underwater pipeline with all the pumps, compressors and electric motors needed to transport the oil long distances to an onshore refining facility. You can feel the excitement about the possibility of large-scale subsea processing at this year’s Offshore Technology Conference in Houston. Attendees understand that this technology will open up many valuable oil fields that were impractical or even impossible to operate a few years ago.

Putting a complete, integrated power grid more than half a mile under the ocean is no small feat. A subsea power grid is safer and more reliable than any system they are currently using for subsea processing. Bringing offshore oil to the surface and transferring it to an oil tanker for so it can then be transported to a location on shore has always been difficult. Now there’s a better way. A subsea power grid provides the key to building safe, reliable underwater pipeline networks that connect even the deepest well to processing facilities on land.