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How to manage your subsea umbilicals

The subsea arm of the resource extraction industry has become an important player in the UK's recovery from recession. As well as bringing much needed manufacturing work to different parts of the country, the central activities provide new employment opportunities whilst adding to the new look of the next phase of energy production.

A subsea production arrangement needs to be connected to a remote facility providing control, power, communications and chemical services. The means of that connection are provided through subsea umbilicals.

These critical components allow important applications such as production control, chemical injection, subsea pumping, gas lift and underground gas storage to occur. The whole transference of power for the subsea developments, and the management of the products of the extraction, is maintained by the viability of the umbilicals used.

The umbilical connections can include electrical, hydraulic, chemical injection and fibre optic mediums and their construction must be rigorous enough to withstand extremes of temperature and pressure in a hostile environment.

In fact, any subsea system that requires monitoring or needs remote control, for instance a remotely operated vehicle (ROV), relies on the effectiveness of a subsea umbilical in order to be used at optimum efficiency.

Umbilical Termination Structure

The Umbilical Termination Structure (UTS) allows for various services to be transported to the subsea equipment located in situ at the field. There is no set arrangement as the demands of each subsea project are unique and consequently the number of umbilicals used will vary from project to project.

Umbilicals can also be made up of single or multiple connections in a single line, whereby chemical injection tubes might be paired with telecommunications cables or electrical cables which are all bundled together in one larger single connection.

Savings can be made on installation costs if an umbilical incorporates more than one connection. These multiple applications are known as 'integrated umbilicals'.

Flow lines

Another adaptation that can be included in an umbilical management plan is the use of hybrid applications whereby the electrical, chemical and hydraulic processes can be integrated with flow lines.

In this form, which is a relatively new development brought about by recent advances in umbilical technology, the flow line is surrounded by electrical umbilicals and the entire group is encased within tubing.

Image source: RigZone/JDR Global

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