The rebound in crude oil prices brought a measure of optimism to Subsea Expo 17 in Aberdeen, Scotland.
With WTI crude trading in the low $50s per barrel — up from the low $30s a year ago — folks at the trade show and conference seemed hopeful that the worst is over in the oil markets, where crude prices plunged more than 70 percent from the summer of 2014 through February of last year.
Subsea Expo 17, which ran February 1-3, brought together companies building some of the most innovative subsea technologies. This year it attracted more than 4,500 people and more than a hundred exhibitors. While companies showed off their latest product lines at the trade show, conference sessions gave people a deep dive into the subsea industry — which includes oil exploration, underwater pipelines, subsea data and power transmission, offshore wind projects, and experimental ocean-energy technologies.
Skipping Subsea Expo is not an option for us at PMI. After all, nearly all these technologies require subsea cables and accessories, so a lot of our customers were strolling the aisles, checking out the booths, and sitting in on panel discussions.
The conference also is a great place to apprise the mood of the subsea industry. Since much of the subsea industry involves searching for oil and extracting it, the current price of crude is rarely far from attendees’ minds.
We heard time and again the hope that oil prices were finding their footing again, especially since Saudi Arabia has agreed to rein in production and help create a floor in the global market for oil.
We did hear some jitters about Great Britain’s looming exit from the Eurozone. And, it was impossible to avoid the subject of President Trump and the potential impact on global trade.
But overall, attendees had business on their minds: becoming more cost-efficient, getting better technologies to market, and attracting more customers.
Some Presentation topics like “Effects of Elastic Shakedown and Bulk Corrosion Thinning at a Lateral Buckle” and “Deepwater Pipeline NDT Inspection and Repair via Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) Intervention” would not make the evening news, of course, but they are kinds of things engineers need to know about to carry the industry into the future.
PMI is a strong proponent of the potential of marine energy to supply clean-energy needs in the years ahead. We’ll be looking for more presentations and companies bringing innovations to the ocean-energy sector in future Subsea Expo gatherings.
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PMI Industries, Inc. is proud to announce that as of January 16, 2017, it has been ISO 9001: 2015 with Design certified with regard to the design, manufacture and distribution of offshore, subsea cable hardware assemblies and testing services.
PMI is delighted to serve our customers even better through the well-defined and documented processes this certification requires. While PMI has always been committed to quality in its products and services, this certification ensures a more productive environment through faster identification and resolution of quality issues, among many other benefits.
“This certification is a reflection of our longstanding commitment to quality, continuous improvement and our customers,” said Bob Schauer, President of PMI Industries, Inc. “We’re very proud of the dedication put forth by the PMI team.”
PMI partnered with Smithers Quality Assessments, an accredited quality and environmental management systems certification body, to achieve certification.
For more information about PMI Industries’ products and services for offshore oil and gas, please visit pmiind.com, and for more information about PMI Industries’ products and services in offshore renewable energy, please visit powerofpmi.com.
Steel cables have unmatched strength and stability, which is why they’re so common in dry-land uses like elevators, construction cranes, and suspension bridges. But steel cables have troubles in marine environments: they rust, they sink, and they’re just hard to handle easily.
Synthetic cables are showing up these days in a lot of marine engineering projects, from seismic operations to cutting-edge marine-energy projects. They’re lighter, stronger, more flexible, and they float, making them a great choice for towing, lifting, and a host of static and dynamic applications.
Marine energy project managers often find that steel’s weight and susceptibility to corrosion limits their options. To keep things simple, let’s think about a basic floating platform. The weight and buoyancy balance requirements mean that every kilogram of steel cable weight subtracts a similar weight of equipment on the platform.
That means subtracting cable weight adds a lot more options in a wide array of marine applications, including ocean-energy initiatives. A meter of synthetic cable weighs about one-fifth of a similar length of steel cable. Similarly, a kilogram of synthetic cable has about five times the strength-to-weight ratio of a similar weight of steel.
Synthetic Cable Basics: Aramid vs. LCP
Synthetic fibers use advanced polymers that can be engineered to perform specific duties under precise conditions. They all have pros and cons that can make them optimum for some applications and less than ideal for others.
Marine applications typically use two kinds of synthetic fibers:
- Aramid, including the well-known Kevlar® brand. These fibers work great in transmission cables because they have low elongation, which keeps the conductor (fiber optics or copper) from stretching and breaking. They also have high tensile strength and high modulus.
- LCPs (liquid crystal polymers), including the Vectran® brand. Though similar to aramids, they have a different chemical structure. LCP has comparable elongation characteristics to aramids but provides superior abrasion resistance.
There are two potential issues with synthetics that do not affect steel: they’re more vulnerable to abrasion and breakdown from exposure to ultraviolet light. That might not be a problem with a cable that rests at the bottom of the ocean, but it can be a challenge for cables that sit outside and get reeled in and out frequently.
The chemical structure of synthetic cables can be tweaked to suit specific applications. Ropes can be designed to stretch a lot or remain static, depending on how they will be used.
Attachment points for synthetic cables
There’s a lot to like about synthetic cables and ropes in marine energy applications, but there’s one area where steel has an advantage: the method of attachment or termination.
Steel cable terminations can use helical rods to get a firm, trustworthy grip on the end of a length of steel.
Furthermore, the termination has to be designed specifically for the way it will be used—especially in applications like optical and/or electrical transmission. Since all marine energy projects transmit electricity to the mainland grid, this is a key concern.
The incredible strength of synthetic cables can be undermined if you choose the wrong kind of termination. We’ll discuss the fundamentals of synthetic strength member termination in an upcoming blog post.
At PMI, our synthetic strength member terminations have been carefully designed and tested to preserve the strength of the cables they’re attached to. We’ve been building rugged premium accessories for the deep-sea cable industry for decades, so we know what it takes to get the best performance from synthetic cables and their attachment points in marine energy projects.