SEACON » Blog » ‘The Shell Stones Development’ – Custom-Engineered Electrical and Fiber Optic Connectors from TE Connectivity

‘The Shell Stones Development’ – Custom-Engineered Electrical and Fiber Optic Connectors from TE Connectivity



Royal Dutch Shell’s innovative concept for the Stones FPSO includes a detach­able buoy turret mooring (BTM) that can release production risers and umbili­cals in advance of extreme weather con­ditions and reconnect afterwards. This capability required custom-designed electrical and fiber optic connectors on the umbilicals and turret stab plates that could disengage and reconnect reliably, safely and repeatedly. TE Connectivi­ty’s (TE) SEACON and DEUTSCH com­bined portfolios were able to meet this unique challenge.

TE offers one of the widest range of dry- and wet- mate connectivity solu­tions available in the market and has developed innovative technologies to support FPSO applications such as this since the early 2000’s. For the Stones project, Royal Dutch Shell relied on TE to provide the low voltage and high volt­age electrical connectors and fiber optic connectors for the stab plate inter­section between the FPSO and BTP and used similar low voltage and fiber optic connectors for the BTB moni­toring system.

Demanding Application

The dry-mate EX-Mate LV electrical con­nectors and wet-mate HydraLight fiber optic connectors had to be certified as explosion proof because they would be installed in a Class I, Zone I hazardous location on the vessel. Connectors had to be designed to mate correctly under all possible stab plate misalignment con­ditions. The robust design ensures that the connectors function and maintain their integrity under high load condi­tions while connected to the 180-ton, 3,000m-long umbilical cables. When dis­connected from the FPSO, the BTM will be submerged.

Both the EX-Mate and EX-HydraLight connectors were supplied in super duplex material. Within the HydraLight connector, engineers used a new com­pensation fluid with no flash-point and changed the pressure compensator to withstand higher thermal expansion. A portable oil fill station was developed for connector maintenance, and test connec­tors were designed to verify fiber optic channel performance.

Extensive Testing and Certification

TE worked closely with Royal Dutch Shell and ExVeritas Limited to create a comprehensive connector qualification test program to certify the fiber optic and electrical connectors for use in a Class I hazardous area. TE also qualified two separate Royal Dutch Shell-pro­vided cables and their integration with connector assemblies through extensive physical testing.

TE also supplied SEACON connec­tor/cable assemblies for the top stab plate for installation at the turret suppli­er’s location. TE’s DEUTSCH technicians worked at the umbilical supplier’s facili­ty to install the connectors to the cables using a proprietary moulding process.

Collaboration and Support

At the outset of the project, TE worked with Royal Dutch Shell to create a com­prehensive functional design specifica­tion to capture all engineering require­ments. TE’s SEACON Engineering, R&D, production and supply chain groups sup­ported the project from initiation to final installation. Amidst the technical com­plexities and pioneering requirements, the project was expertly administered. TE’s broad experience across all connec­tivity mediums and technologies serving Marine Oil & Gas applications – includ­ing seven previous FPSO projects — served as a critical asset toward the proj­ect’s success.

TE Connectivity, TE, SEACON, DEUTSCH are trademarks of the TE Connectivity family of companies.
Royal Dutch Shell and ExVeritas are trademarks.