In 1985, a brilliant Norwegian engineer drew a quick sketch of his vision for how subsea compression might work in the future. Now, over 25 years later, that vision has been transformed into reality - by the middle of this decade the offshore industry should see its first full-scale subsea compression station in operation.
To achieve this success has required an unyielding corporate commitment to the subsea compression concept.
That Norwegian engineer is Kjell Olav Stinessen, now First Chief Engineer in Aker Solutions' subsea power and process business.
"We could clearly see the potential for subsea compression," recalls Stinessen, who at the time worked for Kvaerner, which subsequently became part of Aker Solutions. "But to create the market pull for subsea compression we had to demonstrate that it would work, and to do that there were many technology gaps to be closed first."
The 'technology push' he refers to led to the development of the Kvaerner Booster Station (KBS) in the early 1990s, patented in 1991, which was tested at pilot scale and proved that subsea compression could be achieved in practice. The compact station was based on a sealed vertical motor and compressor. Indeed, the fundamental design of the KBS had many similarities with the current Ormen Lange pilot.
Moving steadily on from those early days, the technology gaps have been filled through a series of qualification processes undertaken by Aker Solutions and its heritage companies.
"To achieve this success has required an unyielding corporate commitment to the subsea compression concept, and in addition the ability to transfer the enthusiasm for it from one generation of engineers to the next, engineers with the right attitude to development work," observes Stinessen.
But the story does not end there, for now Stinessen and the Aker Solutions team are already working on the next generation of compact subsea compression plants that will handle wet gas.
"We are all very proud to be playing our part in bringing this game-changing technology to the industry," he concludes.