Experience matters when it comes to ensuring subsea cable systems survive variable ocean conditions. After all, if any part of the cable system assembly fails at sea, repairing or replacing it is expensive and arduous. PMI’s cable testing and analysis is an excellent way for customers and third parties to feel confident about their cable system components and the integrity of the complete system.
“Few labs offer the tests or use the equipment we do to find vulnerabilities and confirm satisfactory performance before the cable is deployed,” says Jay Marino, P.E., PMI Manager, Engineering, Government Services & Test Lab. “We’ve worked with many customers over four decades to simulate at-sea conditions and provide quality inspection and assurance services. PMI’s insight into a product’s durability is a value-added service that customers seek out. They like the fact that our tests can be uniquely tailored to meet their needs.”
As deep ocean exploration has grown over the years, the heavy-duty cables used in subsea projects are expected to last for decades. Unfortunately, 80% of unexpected challenges and delays in marine projects are caused by cable failure.
Equipment provides extensive measurement capabilities
Determining the service life of a cable system and/or its components is a specialty of PMI’s. Besides the tests PMI does on its own products, organizations come to PMI for certification and testing services, particularly ones designed to assess electrical, optical, and mechanical applications.
Customers with new cables may want to do tension cycling on them. PMI’s long span tension setup machine is capable of testing cables up to 457m (1,500 ft.) over multiple sheaves, with tension up to 53.4 kN (12,000 lbf.).
“A manufacturer that makes a cable assembly will send a sample to us to test,” says Marino, who has been involved with PMI’s cable testing facility for over three decades. “Important testing we frequently do for customers checks the cable’s subsea mechanical responses. When someone develops a new cable and wants to run it through its paces, we’ll do tension cycling on it. We’ll also measure the torque and rotation to verify its torque balance characteristics.
“Cables typically are ‘torque balanced,’ but that doesn’t mean they’re perfectly torque balanced,” he continues. “What it means is that the cable is typically designed to minimize torque. Some torque remains, sometimes a little or a lot.
“We can measure the torque that’s generated when it’s loaded. We can also measure its rotation,” he says. “For example, if we fix one end of a cable sample and pull on the other end while allowing it to rotate, we can measure that rotation. Or, we can fix both ends and measure the torque generated in the cable. We can also rotate one end to intentionally generate torque in the sample to see how it reacts. Of course, hydrostatic pressure testing is usually part of the picture. These are tests we typically run. There aren’t many test labs which have this type of equipment.”
The equipment PMI uses to test and measure for performance and reliability include:
- Long span tension setup
- Hydrostatic pressure chambers
- CBOS (cyclic bend over sheave) machine
- 100-kip straight tension machine
The equipment can test:
- Raw cable (steel armored or synthetic strength member)
- Rope and hose assemblies
- Cable assemblies
- Cable hardware
- Other equipment used in subsea projects
Customer-driven laboratory testing
Each test is based on the customer’s unique set of parameters. Additionally, the time involved varies based on the customer’s application, interface, and materials requirements.
“We test the cable or component at the conditions that the customer expects during operations in the ocean,” says Thom Bosch, PMI lab technician who has been involved with the company’s laboratory testing for 14 years. “For example, if they’re towing a cable or component through the water, they can calculate the drag force on the towed object, which is related to the tension in the cable. We’ll test to that tension value plus a safety factor for dynamics, usually doing many cycles over hours or days. Our customers typically have an idea of how much variability they can tolerate and still operate their cable system or device.”
These kinds of customer-focused interactions are one reason PMI has been a leader of in-house dynamic cable testing and analysis for nearly 40 years.
“We offer independent testing services to any company in the industries we serve,” Marino says. “We can test the performance, and sometimes the limits, of a customer’s cable or equipment beforehand so that there aren’t any expensive surprises in the field.”
To set up a free consultation or get technical support, contact Jay Marino at firstname.lastname@example.org or any member of our leadership or sales team. Their contact information is found on the Contact Us page on our website.
The Oceanology International conference covers such a wide range of industries, all with the common mission of measuring, developing, protecting, or operating in the world’s oceans, providing lots of room for potential collaborations and idea sharing among market leaders.
Being a conference with numerous offshore/subsea market leaders in attendance, it provides an opportunity for attendees to become inspired by new advancements within the industry and develop new customer relationships. Of particular interest to our team were new equipment and companies that acquire, transfer, and store data and analytics technologies.
We also noticed many oil spill company leaders were in attendance, which was interesting to see the continuing developing partnerships and collaborations between the marine technology companies and the oil and gas sector.
Through the bustling exhibit halls and between sessions, we had the opportunity to talk with multiple attendees about the economic status of some of these new markets. One thing most sector leaders agree on is that the market will eventually bounce back—but the one unanswered question is still a matter of when.
Much of the conference buzz also surrounded themes around autonomous unmanned vehicles (AUVs,) oil spill equipment, remote operated vehicles (ROVs), and various new software opportunities pertaining to data management.
The ever-growing capabilities of unmanned vehicles, along with industry applications, communications, and data are driving further advances in the ways that we collect information and work within the oceans.
With nearly 500 exhibitors from dozens of countries around the world, Oceanology International gives PMI a unique opportunity to meet with companies and discover their innovative solutions to today’s marine technology challenges. It also provides a great opportunity to share about our innovative subsea cable technologies and to create new partnerships and collaborations.
PMI is positioned well within this field given the application of various cable solutions such as our no tool or prep required cable strain relief systems (BSRs), synthetic cable terminations, and 3rd party cable testing capabilities which provide much needed services to the a wide range of markets who are associated with ocean work. Our custom cable subsea systems and deep subsea cable expertise explain why companies around the world count on PMI. When you’ve got a lot of ocean in front of you, you need PMI behind you.
See you back in London for Oceanology International 2020!
PMI certainly enjoyed the always educational environment at Subsea Expo 2018 in Aberdeen! It was a pleasure to meet with so many energetic and skilled specialists working within the industry.
The innovative solutions our industry develops continue to amaze and inspire us within the promising direction of the offshore energy market.
From the Awards Dinner, State of Sector/Industry Overview Keynote Session presented by Subsea UK Chief Executive Neil Gordon, to the breakout sessions, panel talks, and networking events, Subsea 2018 was surely an event not to be soon forgotten.
Breeding Ground for Innovation
The conference offers a unique environment attended by Subsea operators, supply chain engineers, CEOs, sales marketers, developers, IRM companies, cable suppliers, and more. The expo is a breeding ground for innovative solutions and partnerships to further evolve today’s subsea industry.
New Cable-free ROV Solutions
Much of the current market buzz seems to revolve around the possibilities surrounding AUV & ROVs. The implementation of remote subsea junction charging boxes for AUVs would eliminate the costly need for traditional subsea cables. Instead, the vehicle would plug into a charging station on the sea floor. This opens up a multitude of new opportunities surrounding sea floor connections, potential cost benefits, and the need for specialized remote subsea junction box cables.
Mentoring Future Leaders
In addition, reiterated throughout the event was a strong emphasis of the need to educate and train the next generation of subsea market leaders for an exciting, yet challenging industry.
This was also evident throughout the exhibit hall with opportunities for pupils to experience various facets of the subsea industry, from operating machinery with virtual reality, to Subsea UK and OPITO’s “Energise Your Future” campaign.
It was not uncommon to run into multiple local high school pupils attending the expo and looking to absorb all the knowledge and information they could.
While these young, future leaders may currently not hold the answers for commonly shared frustrations around market conditions, lead times, costs, and CAPEX restrictions, it was a friendly reminder that within years, a fresh pair of eyes may be able to revolutionize the markets we’ve all taken part in growing to the high level which it is at today.
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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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.
Drawing energy from river currents represents a massive untapped source of electricity development. This is especially true in countries like Canada, where rivers and coastal waters provide an enormous range of development options that can provide growth and economic benefits.
Indeed, Canada is emerging as a leader in the global marine renewable energy industry, thanks to supportive government policies, shared infrastructure and strategic research initiatives. These facts provided the backdrop for last week’s Marine Renewables Canada 2015 Annual Conference, where PMI was among the vendors showcasing products and services in the fast-growing renewables market.
At PMI, we’re already reaching out to companies in the offshore-wind sector, and we’re seeing the potential of freshwater rivers to provide clean, renewable energy.
River energy initiatives provide a new twist on age-old technology: the water wheel. New ventures in this sector are exploring placing turbines — much like you’d see on a jet aircraft — deep in the waters of a river. Water turns the blades, generating kinetic energy that can be converted into electricity.
This creates the potential to fix the one major drawback of hydroelectric projects: massive dams that devastate the local environment. Rivers also can provide power around the clock, unlike solar panels.
Canadian businesses and researchers are unlocking the potential of marine renewable energy through innovations and new approaches to key challenges in the lifecycle of wave, tidal and river projects. Solving problems here definitely opens opportunities in the global market.
PMI is proud to be on the cutting edge of this opportunity, supplying contractors with our proven subsea hardware equipment for river energy exploration. At Marine Renewables Canada 2015, we gobbled up knowledge on topics including:
- Technical acceptability — an international effort to reduce technical risk
- Building scale — an international project pipeline
- Supplying the industry — device development
We see a great future in the power coursing through our rivers. And, of course, we will be providing cable equipment for these projects as they evolve. If you want to know more about our custom engineered cable hardware equipment, schedule to talk to our experts today.
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. And this doesn’t include projects that involve mobilization, delays and operational difficulties.
One splice alone can be 12-24 hours to repair and requires the ship to remain stationary with the cable suspended in water. All the while, cables and equipment are vulnerable to damage by other vessels and fishing gear. It’s a delicate feat that requires speed, precise navigation and station keeping in some of the most extreme ocean environments.
Cable handling requires specialized equipment for measuring, deployment and tension. The last thing anyone needs during this process is to be dealing with difficult equipment. Subsea cable hardware should provide secure, fast assembly and have the ability to be installed on cables with unlimited attachment possibilities.
If your subsea cable hardware is not working to increase performance, your operational costs are definitely on the rise.
Watch how your cable hardware should work for you:
Discover our innovative, tool-free hardware with common-sense solutions to anticipate your needs.
Subsea umbilical cables are subject to corrosion, hydrostatic pressure, high internal pressures and near-freezing temperatures. Stresses from movement in a riser, a floating rig, and the ocean currents themselves are common. Because of these conditions, testing your ocean cable hardware is necessary and should be mandatory. Understanding failure mechanisms is the best way to anticipate problems before they occur.
Everyone and everything, from oil and gas operators to offshore personnel and the environment, benefits from avoiding subsea equipment failures. That’s why the industry spends huge sums every year on inspection, maintenance and repair (IMR) programs. Taking a more intelligent approach to IMR planning can also deliver lower risks and lower costs.
Rather than sticking to rigid service and inspection intervals, operators can use equipment condition, process and other field data, along with historic performance information on shared industry databases, to predict deterioration and intervene only when necessary. This optimized way of managing IMR is part of today’s holistic, risk-based approach to integrity management for subsea and many other types of assets, on and offshore.
Read more from growthmarkets-oil.com and how effective risk assessment can be the difference between triumph and disaster.