Undersea infrastructure is the future of offshore oil extraction, with spending this year projected at $13.9 billion for the valves, cables and pipelines engineered to withstand the enormous pressure and deep cold of such environments. The longer-term goal is to make it possible to exploit new fields in new areas more cost-effectively. "The point now is to stretch the limits so you can put together a tool box the way you need it," said Astrid Sorensen, vice president of U.S. offshore field development at Statoil ASA.

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