‘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.
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.