Oceaneering Launches UFlex – A Joint Industry Project to Gauge the Predictive Performance of Umbilicals
Oceaneering Umbilical Solutions, the Rosyth–based deepwater cable manufacturer arm of Oceaneering Inc., the global oilfield services provider, has established a Joint Industry Project (JIP) with Norwegian company, Marintek, to pioneer a predictive stress analysis tool designed to transform the performance and longevity of deepwater umbilicals.
The tool, called, UFlex (Umbilical Flexibility), is designed to provide data based on the umbilical’s expected deepwater behaviour. Umbilicals carry an array of vital services such as hydraulic power for valves, signals for control systems and electrical power for motors, as well as communication cables. Given the nature of their environment, they umbilical can be exposed to immense stresses from its own weight and from tidal wave and current forces.
Oceaneering Umbilical Solutions will incorporate a number of sensors into the umbilical manufacturing process enabling its technicians to assess specific behaviourial traits. This assessment gives a thorough understanding of the umbilical’s likely operational performance. As each client’s umbilical technical specification varies, UFlex will be used to benchmark and standardise each client’s bespoke configuration, so the data captured by the software tool can be used on future production runs.
The umbilical testing will be carried out in Oceaneering’s state-of-the-art Testing Qualification and Research (TQR) facility in Rosyth and as Dr John White, Global FEA & Dynamic Analysis Manager at Oceaneering Umbilical Solutions explains, using UFlex, will not only give customers peace of mind, but will set a precedent for pinpointing stress and fatigue-related issues which can have potentially damaging consequences.
“We need to have a better understanding of how an umbilical performs lying on the seabed. Umbilicals are exposed to a raft of internal and external pressures, tensions, torsions, bending and external contact loads, which may have an impact on performance. We now have the ability to predict, during the development phase, what scenarios are likely to occur and make some headway in rectifying the causes.
Our Norwegian partner, Marintek came up with the initial concept for UFlex. Knowing the life cycle of an umbilical is crucially important for the oil and gas industry. We want to see UFlex as the industry standard ‘benchmark’ program that offers a novel way of allowing designers to study the use of different materials and various cross sectional geometry– all through a laptop, which then limits the necessity for expensive, full scale tests.”