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Frontier Subsea Technologies

Alain Poincheval, Technip
Philippe Gleize, Subsea 7
Copyright 2012, Offshore Technology Conference
This paper was prepared for presentation at the Offshore Technology Conference held in Houston, Texas, USA, 30 April3 May 2012.
This paper was selected for presentation by an OTC program committee following review of information contained in an abstract submitted by the author(s). Contents of the paper have not been
reviewed by the Offshore Technology Conference and are subject to correction by the author(s). The material does not necessarily reflect any position of the Offshore Technology Conference, its
officers, or members. Electronic reproduction, distribution, or storage of any part of this paper without the written consent of the Offshore Technology Conference is prohibited. Permission to
reproduce in print is restricted to an abstract of not more than 300 words; illustrations may not be copied. The abstract must contain conspicuous acknowledgment of OTC copyright.

Technip and Subsea 7 Consortium, acting as a contractor to Total, operator of the Pazflor project, made a
challenging oil field development a reality and demonstrated their ability to deliver a complex SURF project,
maintaining a world class HSE performance and pushing the frontier of subsea technologies with focused
innovation. Among the several key challenges, the necessity to handle two different oil characteristics led to two
distinct subsea architectures. First, the Oligocene with a high constraint on thermal efficiency for such a large field
footprint made Pipe-In-Pipe (PIP) flowline and Integrated Production Bundle (IPB) flexible riser essential.
Developed by Technip from design to installation, the reeled, rigid Pipe-In-Pipe and flexible pipe IPB are ideally
adapted for these flow assurance challenges. Second, the Miocene with heavy and viscous oil characteristics led
to the development of a Subsea Separator Unit (SSU) where Subsea 7 demonstrated its ability to install safely
heavy modules in 1000m depth with high positioning accuracy. Finally, with the first implementation of the patented
diverless risers automatic hook-up system to FPSO, Technip and the Consortium's leading edge technology was
further demonstrated on Pazflor, successfully enabling safer and faster handover for first oil.
Pazflors demanding flow assurance and associated thermal performance of the subsea production transport
system of light paraffinic oil (Oligocene) required the use of challenging technologies among which Pipe-In-Pipe
associated with an Integrated Production Bundle flexible riser has proven itself to be the optimum solution and is
further detailed in the following sections.
Furthermore, maintaining a world class HSE performance and pushing the frontier of subsea technologies with
focused innovation led to the development and the use of a diverless riser automatic hook-up system to the FPSO,
avoiding diver intervention and hence disconnecting weather conditions from riser pull-in (HU) operations.
In addition, with the Miocene field, Total achieved a number of world firsts for the Subsea Separation system with
first vertical separation system, first hybrid pump technology and first separation system to be implemented on field
start-up in 800m water depth. This section aims to give an overview of the installation of the Subsea Separator
system, from preliminary testing in Norway to final pre-commissioning at offshore site.
Finally, the integrated Consortium between Technip and Subsea 7 showed its full efficiency during the
management of simultaneous complex installation operations involving a large number of vessels together with a
comprehensive drilling campaign.
To connect the highly insulated Oligocene PIP loop from the seabed floor to the FPSO, the use of the Technip IPB
flexible pipe riser was the optimum technical choice. The IPB was first implemented on the nearby TOTAL Dalia

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field, combining within the same riser a high level of passive insulation, a bundle made of Super Duplex gas lift
tubes, heat tracing cables and monitoring optic fibres wrapped around a standard flexible pipe core structure.
While the Pazflor IPBs have no heat tracing cable or optic fiber but only Super Duplex gas lift tubes, the design and
operating temperatures, 105 and 95 deg C respectively, were much more challenging than on Dalia (60 deg C).
While such temperatures are common for "standard" flexible production pipes, the high level of passive insulation
of the IPB results in an elevated operating temperature of the bundle and intermediate layers of the flexible
structure. Material selection was therefore key to ensuring that each layer remains within an allowable operating
temperature condition. Specific material testing was performed to qualify:
- the bundle fillers, which separate the gas lift tubes
- the 3 Layer Polypropylene (3LPP) coating, which protects the Super Duplex tubes from corrosion
- the anti-wear tapes between the steel armour layers
- specific qualification testing was performed to demonstrate the leakproofness of the intermediate
sheath crimping arrangement under these high temperatures.
Finally, a full-scale vertical thermal OHTC and cooldown test was performed on a 12m IPB sample to demonstrate
that the thermal performance fulfills the Pazflor Oligocene field requirements.
To prevent cold spots at the interface between the PIP and the IPB, specifically designed insulation covers were
developed, using state-of-the-art CFD modelling, to ensure that the minimum cool down time criteria were
respected at these connections. Again, this was successfully validated by a full-scale thermal cool down test
performed on the overall assembly. Also, given the high temperature under the insulation cover, standard cathodic
protection via sacrificial anodes could not be used to protect the flange connection from corrosion. Instead, an
innovative arrangement with sacrificial steel mesh was implemented to consume the limited oxygen renewal within
the confined environment under the insulation cover.
The lessons learned from the Dalia IPBs were also closely reviewed at the start of the project and mitigation
measures were implemented where required. For example, the Super Duplex tube thickness was increased and
the filler dimensions optimised to minimise the risk of damage to the tube during the bundle laying operation. The
design of the end fitting, and in particular, the anchoring of the Super Duplex gas lift tubes, was also improved
ensuring that the overall size of the end fitting remained within acceptable dimensions when considering the
installation constraints.

IPB transpooling on Technip Deep Blue

IPB Cross section

IPB manufacturing

The thermal performance of the overall Oligocene loop (35km of PIP, 2 km of flexible Flextail and 2.4 km of IPB
riser) was eventually successfully validated by TOTAL post installation (full scale check) through a "thermal
performance guarantee test", consisting of circulating hot dead oil from one IPB and monitoring the temperature of
the returning dead oil at the exit of the second IPB.
Regarding the IPB technology, flexible flextails linking the PIP (via dry connection) to the IPB and the manifolds
(via subsea disconnectable connection) have resulted in considerable schedule optimization (no metrology and
subsequent large spool installation on critical path) and cost saving since the requirement for large FlowLine End
Terminations (FLET) is that each PIP extremity was no longer required, also gaining a significant number of
subsea connectors.
Pazflor further demonstrates the benefit of the IPB flexible riser in terms of addressing the challenges of deep
water production fluid recovery. Gas lift integration with the riser, together with the combined thermal overall
performance (riser fluid and gas lift fluid) gave a definitive advantage to the IPB solution.

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A flexible pipe riser requires bend stiffener at the connection with the floating unit in order to control and limit the
curvature taken by the flexible pipe at this critical transition point. The Bend Stiffener Fixation (BSF) is the system
which fixes and maintains the bend stiffener to the floating unit. As this interface is generally under the water
surface, its installation typically requires diver intervention.
Such intervention is always a critical operation, especially with regards to weather criteria limitation. During the
BSF operation, divers, working close to flexible risers under high tensions of up to several hundred tonnes, are
very weather sensitive. This is a key aspect in ensuring that the planned first oil date is not jeopardized.
For the TOTAL Pazflor project a fully diverless BSF for the flexible and umbilical risers to be connected to the
FPSO has been selected. The main challenge of such decision was to manage the design and qualification
program while meeting the construction date milestones imposed by the FPSO.

a. BSF Description
The main purpose of the equipment is to fix the bend stiffener and maintain a temporary mechanical connection to
the bottom of FPSO I-tube to preserve the flexible riser integrity. This is achieved by anchoring the bend stiffener to
a steel part, which itself is locked tight in a circular clamp made of three jaws. The permanent tightening of the
clamp jaws is obtained via a pre-stressing stud bolt. The tightening is done with a hydraulic motor controlled from
the FPSO topside after riser pull-in operations.
The BSF, as shown in Figure 1, is composed of two main parts:
- The inboard part (BSHD), which is the equipment - including the clamp system bolted on a bellmouth specifically designed for each riser slot. This device had to be welded to the FPSO bottom I-tube at FPSO
contractors yard.
- The outboard part, which is composed of all the equipments installed on the flexible riser, i.e. the bend
stiffener, the clamping disk interface, the vertebrae, the guiding system and the disconnection device.
The main functions of these different parts of the system are as follows:

Guide the riser end-fitting into the bellmouth and I-tube. This function is insured by plastic guides installed
both on the inboard and outboard parts.
Limit and control the riser bending radius during installation and in place. This was achieved by steel
vertebrae positioned between the end-fitting and the bend stiffener. The vertebrae had to accommodate
the built-in-angle and the riser radius. Once installed, the vertebrae remain locked to the nominal radius.
Align during pulling the outboard part (on the riser) to the outboard part (on the I-tube) to take any angular
misalignment before initiating the clamping.
Hang the bend stiffener to the I-tube and keep it in place over the field life. A clamp with three jaws enables
the Bend Stiffener to remain secured to the bottom bellmouth.
Keep a permanent tightening of the device during field life to prevent any fatigue issues. The jaws are
tightened by a screw under pre-stressing, which ensures no tightening variation. Indeed, the initial prestressing load was defined to cover all external loads applied to the jaws.
Allow the disconnection of the end-fitting from the outboard device to complete the riser pull-in to the I-tube
top up to the riser hang-off deck. This function is achieved with a mechanical device designed to separate
the end-fitting from the vertebrae by a simple controlled up and down motion of the riser. No hydraulic or
external power is necessary to operate it.

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Figure 1

BSHD integration on FPSO I Tubes

Bend Stiffener connector

The system was stantardized for all the risers. Indeed the clamping device is exactly the same whatever the type of
riser. The only change is the size of the bellmouth transition piece to suit the I-tube size. The system is designed
for umbilical risers with a relatively small OD and limited tension as well as production and injection flexible risers,
with various tensions and diameters, up to an OD of 584 mm and 260 Te of tension.
b. Qualification Program
A full scale qualification program has been executed to test the worst case installation scenario in term of loads and
size, i.e. the IPB flexible BSF which generated installation tension around 300 tonnes for the Riser Pull-in System
(riser tension added to over pull force). Due to past lessons learned, only the final approach of the outboard part in
the inboard system, the clamp closing, and the disconnection were investigated and tested as sub-equipment.

BSHD during Qualification and testing

c. Installation Operation Management

In order to accommodate possible malfunctioning of sub-elements such the hydraulic motor, a clamp damaged
during towing or possible jamming during disconnection, appropriate monitoring of the critical phases of the
operation has been implemented to secure and validate each step:
- clamp closing operation can be initiated after the correct positioning of the two flanges has been
- The clamp is closed and the bend stiffener safely installed, the riser pull-in to the top of the I-tube can
be done
Specific monitoring devices were developed to provide this crucial information. Some were incorporated into the
BSF design and others were deployed separately during the riser hook-up campaign, such a remote camera
system that could be clamped to the BSF casing.

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Clamp close position

Riser securing on balcony

d. Conclusion
A new, fully diverless generation of BSF has been successfully designed, qualified and installed within the
framework and timescale of the Pazflor project. The design comprehensively addresses installation and operating
load cases in a robust manner, including the fatigue life of all components throughout their service life.
The 17 risers have been connected to the FPSO without weather stand-by and within the estimated connection
cycle duration (12h per riser from sea bed recovery to the riser securely hang-off on FPSO balcony).



Statement of Theory and Definitions

Installation of Subsea Separation Units (SSUs) can be described in three distinct phases:

Site Integration Tests (SITs) and Shallow Water Tests (SWT) in Norway and in Angola: These were organised
by FMC at their Horten premises for SSU top packages and at Sonamet Lobito yard for SSU foundations.


Transoceanic transport, preparation and installation:

Transport to Angola presented a challenge as all three SSUs had to be shipped to Angola in one single trip
and during winter season; upon arrival at Luanda harbour and after offloading from the Heavy lift Vessel
(HLV), a 3 weeks program of pre-installation tests and preparation was implemented jointly with FMC, to
approve readiness for installation. Afterward, SSUs were transported by cargo barge(s) to the site and
installed by Polaris, the Subsea 7 main construction vessel on the Pazflor project. Foundations, fabricated at
Sonamet yard in Lobito, had been installed by Polaris some three months prior to allow adequate soil
Tie-ins and precommissioning at offshore site:
Toward the very end of the offshore operation program in August 2011, subsea tie-ins between the various
packages of SSUs for the three Miocene Systems, were performed by Eagle, the Subsea 7 flexlay and
subsea construction vessel on the Pazflor project. This was a first at this water depth and went faster than
planned, thanks to extensive SITs/SWTs conducted jointly with FMC.
Pre-commissioning was then performed from the FPSO via SSU umbilicals and completed as per the nominal
program; in particular, the Miocene System 10 subsea pumps were both commissioned without any problem.


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Description and Application of Equipment and Processes


Description of equipment to be deployed

Each Subsea Separation unit (SSU) is composed of four main parts deployed separately

3 main modules (SM, IMF, FBS)

Subsea Separator Unit

2 Pumps Module (PM) 46Te

One Foundation Base Structure (FBS), a cluster of 4 suction piles (6 m dia x 13.15 m high piles resulting in a 15 x 15 m wide
structure 200Te in air, 174Te submerged).
One Intermediate Frame (IMF) including one Manifold Module (MM) and one Inlet Module (IM) both integrated into IMF, for a total
weight of 295Te in air, 228Te submerged, overall envelope: 20 x20 x8m high.
One Separator Module (SM) weighing 485Te in air, 263Te submerged-water filled. It is landed on the IMF via soft landing cylinders
and guided by long guide posts during installation. The whole structure is able to slide on the IMF to permit the connection with the
manifold and with inlet module. The dimensions of the SM are 6 x 6 x 25 m high
Two Pumps Modules (PM) each weighing 46Te in air, 43Te submerged

The Separator Unit is powered and controlled from FPSO via a specific umbilical (4kms long, 192mm dia, MV
power umbilical with a lazy wave catenary.)
A topside assembly made of an 8 m bend restrictor in a fixed position at 21 m from a 5 m long rigid head, thus
ending with a 34 m long almost rigid assembly made the installation very specific. This topside assembly was to be
laid on seabed in a first step, prior to be recovered and transferred to the FPSO at later stage.
A very large subsea umbilical termination head (4.5 x 3.5 x 3.5 x 12.2t) was to be pre-installed on a temporary
structure, prior to be finally docked on the IMF.

Operation Preparation

During the Shallow Water Tests (SWT) performed by FMC, Subsea 7 has been deeply involved in assessing
installation feasibility, optimise procedures, and train offshore personnel on this very specific operation.
SS7 also transported the structures from Norway to Angola. One of the main transport issue (transoceanic on HLV
and local via cargo barge) was the sensitivity of the separator structure to fatigue and extreme motions, which
necessitated extensive and specific studies.
Upon arrival in Luanda Bay, FMC had to conduct an extensive check/test program, for which Subsea 7 performed
the offloading of the IMF and SM onto cargo barges (seafastening) while Pump Modules were taken to shore as
they would be installed at a later stage at time of final tie-in of the SSUs.

Offshore Installation

Foundation Base Structure (FBS) Installation

For the September 2010 installation of the three FBSs by Seven Polaris (SS7 construction vessel) a lowering
analysis, using ORCAFLEX software [4], was performed for the FBS modules to define the maximum allowable
seastates for the operation within the limiting landing speed and dynamic amplification criteria (DAF) criteria.

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The deployment of the FBS was analysed for the deepest of the three FBS locations 780m WD. The final analysis
was performed with accurate lowering cable stiffness values based on testing by CETIM in France in May 2010.
The main data, assumptions and criteria in the lowering analysis were:

FBS piles 13.15 m length x 6 m diameter (cluster of 4)

FBS weight 200 Te in air, 174 tonnes submerged
Trapped water weight for all 4 piles (1428 Tonnes) hatches open
Axial added mass (514 tonnes)
Max pile heave velocity at landing 1.5 m/s
DAF 2 (to avoid slack in the lowering cable resulting in snatching)
Polaris is facing in to the swell with swell hitting bow with an angle of +/-22.5 deg
The crane cable is mounted in 12 lowerings
Lowering performed with the crane hook near midship in order to lessen the heave and pitch motions

Presentation and Data Results:

The relatively low stiffness of the FBS cable lowering system in 780m WD near the seabed combined with the
large added mass resulted in a natural period of 8s close to the swell period thus amplifying the motion. Table 1
gives a summary of the results for the near seabed landing step, in a single wave train. It can be seen that the
allowable Hs is much lower for the lower wave periods and is governed by the DAF to avoid slack in the lowering

Table 1 FBS Lowering Analysis Results

In order to provide to vessel management with clear engineering advice to proceed (Go No go criteria) and
minimize standby it was decided:

To monitor actual Polaris crane tip heave, using the output of a calibrated accelerometer. The crane tip heave
was recorded and used to re-compute the motion of the FBS and then to be used as an input in the decision
making process.


To have two independently sourced weather forecasts and a wave measuring datawell in the field to have on
site significant wave height Hs to compare and confirm with the weather reports received. The recorded Hs
values and the weather forecasts received were used to confirm a 12-hour window for installation of the FBS.
To have a real-time monitoring of the FBS during deployment to validate actual DAF. Heave and heave
velocity were calculated from the ROV docked on its platform during the lowering.


To mutually agree a clear Go / No Go decision flowchart consolidating the input and output of the above
monitoring tools.

The above methodology allows removing the conservatism of the calculations step by step. When onsidering the
weather criteria, shown in Table 1, and the traditional decision process, the actual weather conditions encountered
onsite would have resulted in a vessel weather stand-by of a minimum of eight days, whereas this more refined
methodology eliminated all vessel stand-by, thus minimising cost and a domino effect on the overall schedule.

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The graph below shows the actual vertical velocities of the structure (pink curve) and crane tip (blue curve) during
the operation. The relative motion between structure and crane tip is showing virtually no amplifications.
Therefore, it clearly appears that the actual DAF (ratio between structure and crane tip loads, directly related to
velocity) is significantly lower than calculated with Orcaflex up to landing phase (440 s). And also the landing
criteria were met.
Actual installation at site:

FBS installation took place three months prior to IMF and SM installation (required to allow secondary
settlement). During the descent, motion and load monitoring resulted in a dynamic amplification factor
(DAF) of 1.35 maximum and the actual landing speed was 0.15m/s.

V e lo c ity ( m / s )


Measured Velocity of Structure(m/s)

Velocity at Offset(m/s)


Time(s) 0





The shortest installation time was a total of 1.3 days

IMF and SM Installation

The lowering analysis for the IMF and separator was less critical than the FBS and was performed with the same
Considering the more compact shape of these structures, the lowering analysis for the IMF and separator was less
critical than the FBS. Nevertheless, the installation was performed with the same monitoring philosophy to
guarantee that the allowable landing speed (0.5m/s) was not exceeded.
The shortest installation time was a total of 1.3 days for SSU30 (IMF and SM)

Umbilicals Installation

The SSU includes an umbilical to provide power to the subsea pumps and to control the manifold. Essentially, it is
a 4 km long, 192 dd dia, MV power umbilical with a lazy wave catenary. The main difficulties were linked to the
specific design of the umbilical extremities.

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SSU Tie-in and Pre-commissioning

The heavy weight of the three main components installed (FBS, IMF and SM), as well as future maintenance
constraints, dictated separate installation. In August 2011 the Eagle (Subsea 7 construction vessel) was tasked
with the combination of deployment of the remaining lightweight modules and tie-ins of the SSU Modules.
- Tie-in of the Separator (SM) to the manifold module (MM). This involved sliding or skidding the SM 800 mm
towards the MM on low friction pads. The movement resulted in the three sets of inboard (SM) and outboard (MM)
monobore hubs being mated together. The SM weighs 283 Te submerged and was pushed by two high pressure
cylinders. This work involved multiple dual ROV use, i.e. ROV to ROV tool sharing, etc. The quickest SM tie-in was
performed on SSU 30 at 1.28 days.
- Tie-in of Pump module (PM) to manifold module (MM). Both sets of pumps on SSU 10 were installed by the
Acergy Eagle and then tie-in which involved connecting various flying leads and sliding each PM towards the MM
by 800 mm to mate 2 sets of inboard and outboard hubs (one monobore and one multibore). The quickest PM tiein was 0.6 days. It should be noted that only the pumps on SSU 10 were installed by Subsea 7.
- Tie-in of inlet Module (IM) Tie-in of the inlet module connects IMF piping to the SM. The inlet module skids itself
600 mm toward the IMF and SM inboard hubs ready for a double CAT (Connector Actuation Tool) tie-in. The
quickest IM tie-in was 0.9 days on SSU20.
- Final pre-commissioning
The pre-commissioning was split into several phases to allow a staged delivery of the components and test each
one at the proper pressure:
- The first step was done subsea, prior the FPSO arrival to validate the integrity of the production line on
its own.
- Then, the next steps were all performed from the FPSO:
- Integrity of the two gas risers after tie-in to the SSU and hook-up onto the FPSO
- Integrity test of the liquid riser, after hook-up and prior to being connected to the SSU
- After tie-in of the liquid riser to validate the CAT connection
- After completion of the SM and IM tie-in to validate the five connections
- Simultaneously, pre-commissioning of the SSU umbilical, prior tie-in to the pump.


The three SSUs have been transported, installed and delivered in a timely manner, without incident nor stand-by at


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Integrated Consortium

Technip and Subsea 7 had formed a Consortium during the tender phase to offer to Total, through an optimum and
complementary combination of resources (vessels, manufacturing plants, and fabrication yards) and expertise
(flexible products, subsea construction, survey, logistics), an assurance in terms of delivery and risk mitigation.
Despite complex intra-Consortium interfaces, both Partners have delivered on time and as specified, thanks to an
integrated type organisation.

Simultaneous Offshore Operations

The SURF construction fleet included up to six vessels providing a large spectrum of capability and
- 2 main construction vessels for rigid pipeline installation, subsea structures installation, installation of
FPSO mooring system, i.e. Polaris (S7) and Deep Blue (Technip)
- 2 flexlay vessels for laying of umbilicals and flexibles lines, installation/tie-in of well jumpers and
deployment of minor subsea packages, i.e. Deep Pioneer (Technip) and Eagle (S7)
- 1 multi-purpose light construction vessel for surveys, subsea pre-commissioning, umbilical tie-ins,
support to main vessels, i.e. Legend (S7)
- 1 specialised construction vessel for recovery and hook-up of FPSO mooring lines and risers (IPBs,
flexible and umbilicals) chartered from SBM Offshore i.e. Norman Installer

These vessels, with the exception of the Norman Installer, were all mobilized onsite in the three-month period from
early August 2010 to early November 2010; although some of these vessels had to mobilise from remote locations
(North Sea, GOM) it was key that they start on time as the entire offshore operation program was driven by the
necessity to complete all works within the FPSO area as the FPSO arrival (mid-April 2011).

The Figure below illustrates the timing and presence onsite of construction vessel and drilling rigs:

Phase 2 represented the most critical period as eight vessels were onsite, each being, at some point in
time, on the critical path of the project; additionaly, as progress was being made, the site was becoming
increasingly congested. Consortium partners therefore had to develop certain tools and implement solid
control and coordination processes, both within the Consortium and with Total operations management.

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The authors acknowledge TOTAL EXPLORATION PRODUCTION ANGOLA (TEPA) for allowing them to prepare
this paper.
The contribution of Laurent Decoret and Laurent Bastard from Technip, and the contribution of F Bost, J Horan and
X Bougro from Subsea7, for obtaining high quality data are gratefully acknowledged and appreciated.
This paper reflects the opinion of its authors and does not imply endorsement by TEPA to which
acknowledgements are made.


: Bend Stiffenner Connector
: Bend Stiffener Fixation
BSHD : Bend Stiffenner Hanging device
: Dynamic Amplification factor
FBS : Foundation Base Structure (of the SSU)
FLET : Flow Line End Termination
HLV : Heavy Lift Vessel
: Significant Wave Height (metres)
HU : Hook Up
IPB : Integrated Production Bundle
Hs : wave Significant Height
IM : Inlet Module (SSU)
: Intermediate frame (of the SSU)
LPP: Layer Poly propylene
MM : Manifold Module (of the SSU)
OHTC: Over head Temperature Coef.
:Pipe in Pipe
PM : Pump Module (of the SSU)
ROV : Remote Operated Vehicle
: Site Integration Tests (in air)
SM : Separation Module (of the SSU)
SSU : Subsea Separation Unit
SWT : Shallow Water tests
: Peak spectral wave period (seconds)