DeepGulf, Inc. is a Pensacola-based company that created a technology called "J-Flex" which claims to enable ultra deep offshore oil and gas pipeline operation beyond the ability of traditional methods.
There are only two options for transporting oil from offshore wells to shore: tankers and pipelines. The floating production and storage facilities associated with shuttle tankers are very costly, with well-known, potentially disastrous environmental impact. Pipelines require much less infrastructure, present far less risk, and have substantially less potential environmental impact. DeepGulf projects do not involve traditional surface “rigs”, and are more than 100 nautical miles offshore, ensuring the safety and beauty of the Gulf Coast’s environmental resources.
Pipelines are thus the preferred solution and are the only means of transportation used from the Gulf of Mexico’s operational deepwater fields to the US mainland, for the time being. Until now, pipelines are limited by the industry’s capability to lay large pipelines in waters deeper than 8,000 feet of water.
DeepGulf claims its technology makes it economical and safe to develop even the deepest parts of the Gulf of Mexico and around the world.
DeepGulf’s inventors have laid some of the deepest pipelines in the world, designing and building 3 of the 7 existing J-Lay systems in the world. This experience contributed to the development of the J-Flex system. J-Flex capabilities offer critical technical and financial advantages.
“Deep Gulf's ability to lay very large pipelines in ultra-deep water will reignite interest in the untapped ultra-deep leased blocks in the deepest part of the Gulf. Not only will the J-Flex system lay much bigger pipe in deeper water than our competitors, it will also lay it faster, completing projects with more economic efficiency. J-Flex innovations will spur many emerging efficiencies in the construction of ultra-deep offshore oil and gas pipelines. Deep Gulf will be at the center of that development", said Chairman Rus Howard, referring to the J-Flex ability to lay a 36" pipe in 12,000 feet of water. “DeepGulf is already fielding inquiries from major oil companies and ultra-deep field contractors in the Gulf of Mexico and other locations around the world. It is clear that ultra-deep is where the action is in offshore construction, and DeepGulf’s J-Flex technology will play an important role in the world’s energy supply.”
This pipelay concept departs from existing common practices that were based on and evolved from onshore systems. J-Flex takes into account the very maritime nature of offshore pipelaying. The main principles of the concept involve suspending the weight of the pipeline below deck. The system will weigh around 650 metric tons and will cost less than $50 million US for a modular 9 joint system, due to the standardization of the design and redundancy of the mechanical equipment. The system will allow the laying of pipelines up to 36" in diameter with tensions exceeding 3,000 metric tons, despite its relatively light weight. Pipeline lay rates will be very similar to those attained with S-Lay systems in much shallower water.