A undive diver performs subsea repairs.

GE’s $500 million research and development center just opened in Brazil will focus on developing advanced subsea oil and gas technology. The center, GE’s first in Latin America, will develop extreme machines designed to survive the extreme pressures and highly corrosive subsea environment. Already, teams across GE’s global research network have been working on that challenge for more than a decade.

Currently, offshore oil and gas processing occurs on platforms on the surface of the sea. The platforms often are located miles from a wellhead, which limits how much oil and gas can be recovered and makes what can be recovered more costly to process.

Subsea processing places the power and processing equipment next to the wellhead on the sea floor. The floating platforms are bolted to the seabed, and the wellhead technologies that use subsea pumps and compressors will increase recovery and offer more economical oil field development with lower emissions, says GE.

Through its Brazil Technology Center, GE is engaged with several oil and gas customer partners to develop the technologies needed to realize subsea oil and gas processing. For instance, GE is working with Petrobras and BG Group on research projects:

  • Offshore Drilling with BG Group. Offshore drilling increases in complexity and cost as exploration and production activity goes deeper. In Brazil’s thick pre-salt layer, extremely hard rock formations contain hydrocarbons at high pressures and temperatures. These conditions demand drilling equipment that is adaptable to changing conditions. BG Group and GE are exploring ways to make drilling systems smarter, increasing the amount of data they provide and helping operators utilize the data in real time.
  • Separation Solutions with Petrobras. Researchers at the Brazil Technology Solutions Center and Petrobras are discussing ways to more effectively and efficiently separate oil, water and gas on the seabed. GE’s separation solutions offer various configurations such as gas/liquid, oil/water (liquid/liquid) and three-phase (oil, water, gas). The separation systems are designed for supporting increased oil and gas production.

GE's Brazil Technology Center is located on the Ilha do Bom Jesus peninsula in Rio de Janeiro.