Whether they are lifting oil from deep below the seabed or experimenting with data centers on the ocean floor, anybody getting work done below sea level lives in perpetual fear of subsea equipment failures.
This is especially true as oil-development machinery equipment installed decades ago reaches the end of its projected operating life. What do you do with 20-year-old machinery that was built to last 20 years? Replace it now or wait for it to fail?
Either way, it will not be cheap. How can companies mitigate the risk of subsea equipment failures? A few tactics spring to mind:
Dive deeper into predictive maintenance
With today’s high-powered computers, databases, and networks, it’s getting much easier to collect data that will provide authoritative data on the likely expiration of subsea equipment. Of course this requires sensors that measure the conditions of equipment, and cabling to convey all that data to the surface.
It’s not an easy or a quick fix, but it should be built into any process of replacing or upgrading any new equipment being installed now. Forward-thinking drillers who do this today will reap far more benefits when oil prices inevitably recover.
Invest in more in-depth training
Subsea equipment fails for highly specific reasons that might be invisible to people who make routine checks and are trained to look for only a few data points. The key is to amass the knowledge of your most senior technicians and develop protocols to pass their advanced knowledge onto your junior technical staff.
Again, the oil market downturn can be a boon to advanced training because you can provide more in-depth training to smaller technical staffs. When repair and maintenance crews have to be ramped up in a year or two, you can implement your advanced training regimen to a wider audience.
Broaden your approach to integrity management
Integrity management has three anchors: inspection, maintenance and repair (IMR). You want to address all three holistically so that any change in one anchor is reflected in the others.
Deep-sea inspections can be logistically difficult and repairs can be disastrously expensive. That’s why so many companies are turning to data to help them understand the likelihood of failure so they can get every last minute out of a piece of subsea machinery but replace it before it actually fails and causes massive downtime or, worse yet, an environmental disaster.
There’s no question that all phases of IMR are costly, but the consequences of neglecting IMR are far worse. There will always be a temptation to cut corners on the quality of your subsea equipment, but these short-term savings can get extremely expensive if the equipment fails unexpectedly, endangering investments, ecosystems and people’s lives.
As a leading underwater engineering company, PMI has more than four decades of experience in creating subsea hardware for the oil and gas industry. Our track record of providing world-class cable hardware also can be a huge advantage companies in the emerging fields of offshore wind and tidal energy.
The island nation of Iceland has more renewable energy than it needs. Great Britain wants to use more power from renewable sources. A 1,000-kilometer submarine power cable could conceivably help Iceland export its surplus renewable power and help Great Britain meet its renewables goals.
All this is possible because of the advantages of high-voltage direct current (HVDC), which makes it more practical to transmit power over long distances via submarine power cables. Electrical grids around the world generally use alternating current (AC) because it’s more economical over short distances.
The problem with AC is it becomes less practical the farther the power has to be transmitted. When power has to be transmitted distances in measuring in the hundreds of kilometers or more, it becomes much more sensible to use high-voltage direct current.
Using HVDC to move lots of power over long distances is extremely helpful in developing nations like China that have rapidly emerging energy demands. But another of the great opportunities for HVDC lies deep below the ocean with subsea power cables.
Long-distance subsea power cables have a host of applications:
- Windfarms located far offshore. Wind is more abundant far away from shore, and many near-shore sites have already been developed. Submarine power cables using HVDC make these remote windfarms practical.
- Subsea electrical grids. Electrical grids beneath the ocean are being developed to improve the productivity of off-shore drilling operations. HVDC could allow them to be powered by production facilities on dry land.
- Metro areas where it’s impractical to build new power plants. In the San Francisco Bay Area, for instance, subsea power cables can extend power across the bay and avoid the need to build new power generating capacity.
This potential sounds awesome until you hear the statistics on how long it takes to repair a damaged submarine power cable. It can be days, weeks or months depending on the location and the severity of the damage.
The rugged reality of deep-ocean engineering is that it only takes one fishing trawler or cargo ship anchor to foul up a deep-sea power transmission plan. That’s why subsea cable protection is so important.
Providing that kind of protection has kept PMI in business for more than four decades, engineering rugged, durable ocean hardware for companies and projects around the globe.
Our deep ocean engineering experience helps enable the world-changing potential of renewable power. No matter how breathtaking the advances in technology, if the power has to be sent through subsea cables, those cables need extra protection that our ocean hardware provides.
Construction continues on the Asia-Africa-Europe One (AAE-1) subsea cable system, a collaborative project between 17 global service providers to create a 25,000km subsea cable system to connect Southeast Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
At completion, the project will connect 18 countries including Hong Kong, Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, India, Pakistan, Oman, UAE, Qatar, Yemen, Djibouti, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Greece, Italy and France.
View a map of the proposed AAE-1 Cable.
Read about the Indian leg of the system.
As the world becomes more and more connected, reliable and high quality subsea cable hardware will become a necessity. PMI’s years of experience and knowledge of subsea conditions will be the solution to the many problems that can develop in the unpredictable waters off shore. PMI is ready to continue developing innovative hardware solutions to solve your subsea and engineering issues. Let us help you tackle your offshore project needs.
We have previously discussed the various ways subsea cables can be damaged underwater (Link: https://pmiind.com/damage-to-subsea-cables-a-huge-risk-to-offshore-wind-farms/), but how are these cables fixed? The answer lies on a ship like the Pierre de Fermat, a ship specially designed for undersea cable repairs. Once the break location is identified, the ship launches a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) to retrieve the cable and return it to the ship.
The repairing process of a cable isn’t the simplest process, as we’ve explained in our blog post “When it comes to subsea cable repair, time is of the essence”. As the cable is being repaired, cables and equipment are vulnerable to damage by other vessels and fishing gear. It’s a delicate feat that requires speed and precise navigation in some of the most extreme ocean environments. Because of this, subsea cable hardware should provide secure, fast assembly. Once the cable is repaired, the ROV returns to the sea floor and attaches the newly repaired piece of cable to the existing subsea cable network and uses high pressure water jets to bury the cable.
To read more about the fascinating process of repairing subsea cables, check out the article “This Giant Robot Fixes Undersea Broadband Cables“.
PMI’s proven, high quality subsea hardware is the ideal solution increase subsea cable performance, assist in cable reparation, and in ROV and ship attachments. Call us today to chat about how our solutions can help your subsea cable problems.
Below the surface of the earth’s crust, there is constant movement as tectonic plates slide past one another and bump into each other. These plates have rough edges that sometimes get stuck. When this happens, the rest of the plates keep moving, and when the edges finally unstick, it causes earthquakes. For centuries, scientists have been trying to study these plate shifts to better understand, and maybe predict when and where earthquakes will hit next. The dramatically deep trenches on the ocean floor where oceanic plates converge would be the ideal location to study these shifts, but due to the cost and difficulty of reaching these locations, scientists have only been able to catch quick glimpses of what’s going on under the surface.
The relatively recent advent of fiber optic cables have dramatically changed the way scientists study tectonic plates on the ocean floor. University of Washington oceanographer John Delaney was one of the first scientists to come up with the idea to attach a network of sensors to subsea cables that could transmit data instantly and continuously. His idea of an “underwater observatory” has recently come into fruition off the Northwest coast of the US and Canada. A constant stream of data from this observatory is now capturing events that scientists have previously only been able to examine after the fact, including the first recording of an eruption of an underwater volcano as it happened.
For more information about Delaney’s work on seismic testing with fiber-optic cables, watch this video: UW scientists capture underwater eruption with new fiber-optic array, set up HD web cam
PMI’s cable management and bending strain relief hardware is already integral in marine seismic data acquisition, as we’ve mentioned in our article “Cable Hardware Adds Productivity to PGS’ 3D Seismic Acquisition Vessels”. As seismic technology and marine exploration continues to evolve, PMI is ready to provide quality hardware to solve the next generation of issues. Contact us today to schedule an appointment to talk to our experts.
We’ve gone in depth before on how cable terminations are used , now we’re going to explain what sets our terminations apart from the competition.
Many current terminations require an epoxy/polish method of installation. There are many disadvantages to using epoxy. If you’re using heat-cured epoxy, it takes a ½ to cure, but you need an oven to cure it. Room temperature epoxy doesn’t need a special oven, but the cure time can be 2-3 hours or more. When researchers are spending days or weeks out on the ocean gathering information, time is of the essence.
Other terminations on the market don’t use epoxy, but require specialized equipment to install or require extensive cable preparation before installation. In addition, many epoxy-less terminations have a higher connector cost.
PMI provides quality epoxy-less terminations for your ROV needs. Here are 5 that the EVERGRIP Helical Gripping Termination is your ideal solution:
- Faster Installation
The EVERGRIP termination is field installable and easily applied – usually in 30 minutes or less.
- No Special Tools Needed
Our product requires no additional tools or cable preparation to install
- Less Down Time
With the EVERGRIP, there is no need to wait for a termination/retermination to cure.
- Strain Relief for Cables
The special helical rod design relieves strain from the cable. We also have BSR solutions for additional strain relief to prolong cable integrity.
The housing of EVERGRIP can be used – a Retermination Kit comes at a much lower cost than purchasing a new termination
As new challenges are placed on the ROV industry, PMI continues to provide new solutions to meet those challenges. Whether it’s greater strain capabilities, faster installation or higher cost savings, PMI has the capability to develop and supply the highest quality and reliability solutions.
To read more advice on choosing the best subsea terminations for your project, download our checklist:
Any young, new industry will have growing pains, and the offshore wind farm industry is no different. Among other issues with offshore wind farms, one of the biggest problems to affect the industry are issues with subsea cables. Failures and issues during installation and maintenance of subsea cables have cost companies millions of dollars and have caused many delays in this new and quickly rising industry.
While much information on cable issues is closely guarded, there have been some high profile cases as well as some studies done regarding damage to offshore wind farms. One of these studies, conducted by the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), partially delves into issues specific to subsea cables. Failure statistics have shown that third party mechanical damage to cables is three to five times more likely that the risk of internal cable failures. A few examples of third-party subsea cable damage include:
- Jackup “Jacked Up” On a Cable:
One issue is the risk of Jackups “Jacking Up” on a cable. A Jackup is a floating barge fitted with long support legs that can be raised or lowered to service oil and gas platforms or wind turbines. According to the study by the BSEE, there have been issues with cables getting caught in the jackup and being damaged in the equipment.
- Anchors Damage To Cable:
Another common issue is damage from third party anchors. Often times, anchors of laying vessels will tangle with the cable being laid and cause damage to the cable.
- Cable Kinked
Perhaps one of the most common issues with subsea cables is their tendency to kink or bend. It is very easy to get a kink into the line when preparing to install cables and unkinking is a major exercise requiring special skills.
In addition to these issues, other common problems to cable installation can include: damage to cable during installation, weather or soil-related damage, cable or joint failure, or sediment movement that can lead to cable exposure.
Subsea cables are complicated pieces of equipment and need to be handled with care and should only be used with only the best cable hardware to promote longevity and fortification. PMI is ready to equip your cables with the highest quality cable hardware.
For more information regarding subsea cable vulnerability, read our blog: Why the growing renewable energy market should be concerned about subsea cable vulnerability or call us today to schedule a meeting.
The shift towards sustainable and renewable energy sources has made a real change in the energy industry. As we previously reported on our blog, Europe and Asia lead in wind energy production globally – Denmark itself uses wind power for almost 40% of Danish domestic electricity. The United States continues to grow in the market as well, with the U.S. Department of Energy reporting that by 2030, wind power could supply 20% of all U.S. electricity. However, as more wind turbines are being created, the more people are beginning to speak up about them being an eyesore. The solution? Offshore wind farms.
Offshore wind farming has proven to be a successful solution, not just for eyesore issues, but for productivity. Outside of populated areas and buildings, wind blows more steadily over the water, thus creating more energy for consumption. Moreover, studies are being done to use wind farms to temper violent hurricanes and other large scale weather incidents that can cause devastation.
For more information, watch this great video on Why the Future of Wind Energy Lies Offshore
Despite all these solid moves in the right direction, offshore wind is still a new and growing industry. Carrying power to and from wind turbines miles out in the ocean requires proven subsea hardware and cables. PMI’s years of experience and knowledge of subsea conditions and high quality equipment is the solution to many problems that can develop in the harsh waters off shore. PMI is ready to help your company solve your subsea cable and engineering issues. Contact us today to schedule an appointment to talk to our experts.
Offshore wind and solar energy have been getting all the attention in the quickly growing renewable energy industry, but there’s another player that is beginning to grow strength in the energy market – ocean waves and tidal currents, or “marine energy”. There are vast amounts of energy that are produced within the moving waters of oceans and rivers, and companies working to harness this energy are quickly gaining speed.
While not nearly as large as the main competitors in renewables, marine energy has strong advocates and is quickly gaining steam in the renewable market. About 30 tidal and 45 wave energy companies are at an advanced stage of technological development. One of the biggest issues these companies are facing that has impeded forward movement in the market is the harsh ocean environments – the same thing that makes the industry work in the first place.
The intensity of sea waves is greatly unpredictable and can cause damage throughout the process. Installation of the equipment is often difficult – the areas that are best suited to harness wave and tidal energy are often very hazardous and can be difficult to navigate. As we mentioned in our article on subsea cable vulnerability, subsea cables and hardware have to withstand 14.5 psi per every 10.05 meters they are lowered into the ocean. That coupled with the harsh environment that marine energy succeeds in, makes for a harsh environment for equipment.
PMI has many years of experience engineering proven subsea hardware for companies around the globe. We are excited to be part of the quickly growing marine energy market and are ready to create custom and quality solutions that will withstand harsh and hazardous environments.
Read more about the potential of wave and tidal energy.
The outcome of your project will rely on the quality of your subsea terminations. Make sure to download our guide – 7 Questions You Should Be Asking About Your Subsea Terminations – for a through breakdown of what you should be looking for in your subsea terminations.
We’re excited for the coming year, and to share the enthusiasm and high expectations among industry leaders for steady growth in 2016. RenewableUK, a trade association for wind and marine energy, predicts a busy year ahead for the wind industry. We couldn’t agree more, with over 50 onshore wind projects, and an additional six offshore projects, scheduled to become fully operational in 2016 in the UK alone! That’s more than three times the capacity installed in the UK during 2015. And construction on another five offshore wind projects will begin there during 2016.
These projects will surely bring billions of pounds of investment to British companies across the supply chain and will support nearly 35,000 jobs.
As the wind industry grows, so do the risks. With rapid growth, the need for dependable offshore engineering solutions is imperative. Why? Because one small setback, like damaging a cable during installation, could put an entire wind farm out of service for months and lead to damage to turbine equipment, too. A study done by the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement on Offshore Electrical Cable Burial for Wind Farms estimates that 70% of insurance claims for offshore wind farms come from some kind of damage or breakage to the subsea cables.
And a subsea cable isn’t a quick fix either. A typical subsea cable repair equals several days for the ship to reach fault position. It’s 3-5 days once the ship is on site, and even longer if bad weather is involved.
PMI has years of experience in the offshore industries and continues to develop innovative hardware solutions for subsea cables.
To find out more about our subsea cable hardware equipment, schedule an appointment to talk to our experts today.