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SCADA 2002

The Application of ~ i b r eOptics to Subsea Systems

D Pye, Ocean Deslgn Ezlroye Ltd

The use of opt~calfibre In the teleco~n~nun~catrons ~ndustryhas greatly nnproved co~n~nun~catron
~ t y the per~odslnce ~t was first mtroduced In the offshore 011
qual~ty.capac~tyand r e l ~ a b ~ l over
mdustry, the use of t h ~ stechnology IS stdl at a co~nparat~vely early stage as the first commerc~al
mstallat~on was In '97, but the advantages are rap~dlybeco~n~ng clearer as the number of

Opt~calfibre has Inany advantages over the convent~onalcopper-based solut~ons,such as 1,000-fold

ulcrease 111 bandwdth and reduct1011m error rate and ~nherentelectr~calnolse unmim~ty,but ~t has
also ~ntroduceda number of new challenges, wh~ch~ncludecable constn~ct~on, termmat~on.jomtmg,
test~ngand handl~ng The experience gamed from the use of electr~calsystems In the subsea
env~ron~ne~lt was only of l ~ ~ n ~ use
t e dhere, and the potentla1 suppl~ershad to draw on some of the
solut~onsdeveloped by the t e l e c o ~ n ~ n i ~ n ~ c~ndustry
a t ~ o ~ ~as
s a startlng pon~tIn Inany cases The use
of fibre opt~cshas ~ntroducedsome novel p ~ o b l e ~ n~sn t osystem and co~nponentdes~gn

T h ~ spaper w ~ l outl~ne
l the varlous areas where the use of opt~cshas clear advantages, the deta~lsto
be cons~deredwhen uslng t h ~ stechnology and will also ~ d e n t ~ fspec~fic
y appl~cat~onswl11c11have
proven to be land~narksm the develop~nentprocess The paper w ~ l lalso revlew some of the
proble~nsencountered and the solut~onsused to ach~evea rel~ableand ~nstallablepKdCct

The acceptance of opt~calfibre connectors u ~ t othe Offshore 011Industry has been an ongolng
process w ~ t h~ n ~ tevaluat~on
~al and exper~mentat~on beg~rul~ng
m the ~ n 1990's
~ d Pnor to that, In the
late 1980's, fibre cables had been used for tops~de-to-tops~de
I~nksbetween platfonns

The five years smce the fust c o ~ n ~ n e r copt~cal

~ a l fibre connector ~nstallat~on
has seen the ~natunngof
the technology and ~ t sgradual adoptloll as a technology that supports advances In subsea
arch~tectureIn the Inaln, the problem for component suppl~ershas been to prov~dedeuces wh~ch
are as rel~ableas theu electncal coiulterparts and wh~chcan be handled In the same way As w t h the
early days of electr~calsystems, there has been a step-wse develop~nentthrough qual~ficat~on,
lessons learned dur~ngfirst appl~cat~on and re-des~gi~and re-qual~ficat~onW ~ t hmore than 1400
multi-p~n connectors del~vered on 24+ projects, we are now approach~ng a tune where the
connectors can be regarded as be~nga ~natiireand field-proven tecl~nology

']he good news from the r e l ~ a b ~ l ~standpo~nt

ty IS that once ~nstalled,there has not been a s~ngle
opt~calfibre fa~lureW ~ t ht h ~ sas an deal startlng po~nt,the paper w l l d~scusshow the use of opt~cs
can enhance both Performance and R e l ~ a b ~ land~ t y w ~ l lay
l out the steps taken to ach~evethe present
state of the ~ndustry

Before that, ~t IS relevant to contrast the develop~nentof fibre o p t ~ cconnectors w t h the advances
made In the r e l ~ a b ~ lof
~ t electr~cal
y connector systenls

"In the beguuung" the only ava~lableconnectors were mbber-molded types such as Envuocon, EO
and Brantner, some not even wet-mateable The ~ndustryhas slnce progressed tluough Metal Shells
types (Burton, S o u a u , Jup~teretc ) to the present 011-filled, pressure-balanced products w ~ t ht h e ~ r
mult~plelevels of redundant seal~ng,w h ~ c hare now standard fit to all subsea develop~nents
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For the early connectors, it was sufficient to achieve an itisulation resistance of 5M Ohms for a
system to function. Today, connector FAT'S typically nm at 10G Olms. This increase in IR has
contributed to overall reliability in that there can be a very significant decay before problems are
such that a system sll~itdowiis necessay. The warning given by this gradual reduction will also
allow preparations for a response to be made when the level becomes critical, rather than having it
occur suddenly.

Through failure analysis, it has become clear that it is not often the pintsocket interface on the
connector that fails, but the connector-to-cable junction. At this point, there are numerous variables
- factors such as dimensional accuracy of the wire and cable, surface finish, hardness, plastic flow
and roundness must all be taken into account, and tlie tennitlation designed to handle these
variations in the cable and conductors. In addition, the quality of the installation has been seen to
have a drastic effect on reliability. The development of the connector/cable joint and the training of
a skilled workforce has been as impot.tant to the reliability of the system as has the evolving
mechanics of tlie connector itself.

Photo 1 shows a problem with the incorrect installation of boot seals on a bukhead connector. Here
we have tlie situation where tlie fmal cable attaclment has bee11 carried out by the customer's
technicians. Two of the boot seals have been shortened, three have heat shrink tubing added to make
them fit and others are of different materials. In tlie event of the flooding of the junction box, the
integrity of the boots would have been inimediately comprotnised and the blame for the failure laid
on the connector. Here we can see, that the reliability of a subsea connector is determined not only
by design, but by correct use of the orib%al items supplied by the manufacturer.

In tlie case of a fibre optic system water ingress in this area is not catastrophic thus adding to the
overall system reliability.

As will be shown below, many of these points have been and continue to be relevant in the
development of the fibre optic connector.

Why Use Fibre Optics?

For many subsea applications, fibre optics will never replace electrical systems - obviously power
distribution is one. But for lnany others, the electrical solution will remain the favored option until a
direct cost or reliability benefit can be demonstrated for fibre optics.
The main advantages of optics can be summarized as follows:

(a) EM1 Immunity

Fibre optic comtn~micationis inherently irmnune to electrically generated tioise. This facilitates
control of hi&-power electrical devices such as putnp/motor systems (and tlie "all-electric tree" we
SCADA 2002
keep hearmg about) Tli~s1s part~cularly ~mportantfor fi~turedeepwater and extended t~eback

lmprov~ng EM1 Immun~ty wll s ~ g n ~ f i c a ~ tImprove

ly RELIABILITY on these systems by
elunlnat~ngdata cormpt~onas a cause of c o i m n u ~ ~ ~ c aft ~
a~o nl ~ u e

(b) Increased B a n d w ~ d t h

Advanced control systems, s u c l ~as those used on No~skHyd~os Troll P~lotdevelopment, need
s~gn~ficantly more than the 1,200 or 9,600-baud coni~nun~cat~on available fro111 standard subsea
control systems F ~ b r eopt~csoffer >200M baud over long step-outs wtliout colnpromlslng the
utnb111caldes~gn T h ~ sIncrease 111 baud rate also comes w~tlia decrease 111 b ~ error
t rate Opt~cal
c o ~ n m ~ m ~ c aoffers
t ~ o n BER s of 1 or better (compared w~tlithe 1 10 typ~callyava~lablefrom
electr~calc o m n u n ~ c a t ~ o ~ i )

Tl11s bandw~dth a ~ dBER l~ilprove~nentaffects tlie ach~evable RELIABILITY by offer~ng

contuluocls real-t~mesystem inon~tor~ng as an operat~onalreal~ty,and reduces the r ~ s kof fa~lure
through commun~cat~on error by >1,000 fold, thus llnprovlng co~nmun~cat~on
accuracy and allow~ng
for s~gn~ficantly
~~icreasederror clleck~ngcapab~l~ty

(c) Extended Commun~cahonD~stance

F~breo p t ~ ccomlniinlcat~onis capable of 200 km unrepeated coinmun~cat~on at data rates In the 00's
Mbaud Unl~keelectr~calcominiui~cat~on, the d e s ~ gof
i tlie fibre o p t ~ element
c In the umb~l~cal 1s not
dependent on d~stanceT h ~ ss~gl~ficantly s~mpllfiescontrol system des~gn,as the modem and cable
des~gnno longer need to be tuned to tlie appl~cat~on and tlie modem can effect~velybecome a
standard off the shelf ~ t e mTlie d e s ~ g of
i the fibre element 111 tlie i i ~ n b ~ l ~now
c a l comes dowm to
tluee clio~ces

I Copper or steel for tlie fibre tube (one h ~ b eor two tubes for redundancy)'

2 How many fibres 111 tlie tube (add a spare fibre or two for < $0 05 / m)?

3 What s u e tube jacket to fit tlie ~nterstlces111 tlie ~ u n b ~ l ~dceasl~ g i ?

S w t c h ~ n gto optical fibre can have the knock-on effect of reducmg the i ~ ~ n b ~ l cross ~ c a l sectloll.
wli~chreduces the a n o i n t of annonng for a glven u~stallationrequ~reiiie~~t. mcreaslng the lay le~igtli
w t l ~ o u tmak~ngan offsliore joln between two i ~ ~ n b ~ lsectlons
~ c a l Tlus call s~gn~ficantly Improve the
econolnlcs of u~nb~lical constn~ct~onand ~nstallat~on, and w l l Improve the r e l ~ a b ~ l of
~ t ythe system
by relnovlng or reduclng the number of spl~cesIn the iunb~l~cal

(d) H ~ g hTemperature Res~stance

A small but increas~ngly s~gn~ficant number of developments are b e ~ n gdeslgiated as H ~ g h

PressureMigh Temperature (HP/HT) projects Where the dowd~oletemperature 1s > 120" C, tlie
~ t electrical
r e l ~ a b ~ l of y down-hole gauge systems usmg ~n-wellelectron~csfalls off rapidly By 150"
C, the expectation 1s that an electron~cgauge system will no longer funct~on
Opt~calfibre has two major r e l ~ a b ~ l advantages
~ty In t h ~ sappl~cat~on

1 When appropr~atelycabled, optical fibre can survlve 111 the dow-hole env~romnent,and tlie
fibre 1s not affected by temperahlres out to 300" C

2 When uslng the fibre as either a sensor mediu~nor as a cotnmunicat~on11dto a passlve sensor
head, the s~gnaland detector system can typ~callybe re-located back on tlie platfonn, where
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maultenance can be perfonned wthout the cost and delay ~ncuured111 subsea and part~cularly
well ~ntervent~on

These have the potent~alto s~gn~ficantly

nnprove both R e l ~ a b ~ l(MTBF)
~ty and downt~me(MTTR)

These make fibre o p t ~ csensors v~talfor HPMT well develop~nents

the Change to Optlcs
As w t h the early days of electr~calconnectors, the nutla1 reluctance of the offshore ~ndustryto
conslder opt~calfibre systems 1s glvlng way to an ~~nderstandmg and acceptance of the benefits of
fibre opt~csT h ~ scomes as a result of the techn~callyand co~lunerc~ally successfi~l~nstallat~ons
step-w~sedevelopment program, lead~ngto fibre o p t ~ csystems b e ~ n gdes~gnatedas a mature, proven

Wh~lstthere are many advantages to uslng fibre opt~cs,~t would have been a major factor agalnst
t l ~ e ~use
r ~f the user had to mahe s~gn~ficant ~nod~ficat~onsto exlstnlg equlplnent and to ~ntroduce
new handl~ngteclu~~quesThus, ~thas been a d e s ~ ggoal
l to produce products w h ~ c hwll fit exlstulg
housmgs and w l l fit w t h ~ nthe operat~onalenvelope of current stab-plate and ROV operations, and
wh~chdo not requre leamnlg of new procedures, part~cularlyfor ROV operation In the early days
of the MKI Wet-Mate fibre o p t ~ cconnectors, there were stdl some s~gn~ficant new handl~ng
procedures that had to be adhered to and wh~chcaused a n~unberof FAT and SIT operat~onalIssues
These have now been eh~nnlatedthrough the cont~nuousdevelopnlent process that resulted In the
release of the s~gn~ficantly nnproved MK 2 Wet-Mate connector

As opt~calfibre 1s made of glass, most people assume that opt~calfibre must, therefore, be frag~leIn
fact, opt~calfibre 1s surpr~s~ngly robust It has been used extens~velym ROV control tunb~l~cals
snlce 1982 and these cables have some of the worst handl~ng nnag~nable
It has been shown that ~tIS often the fibre cores that last the longest In these appl~cat~ons
the fibre IS suscept~bleboth to shear loads and to t~glltbend r a d ~ and
~ , product develop~nenthas had
to ensure that both of these are taken mto cons~derat~on

A comparison on the slze of electr~caland fibre o p t ~ cROV mateable colulectors IS shown below
The only d~fferencebenlg around a 20111111 nlcrease 111 the h e ~ g l of
~ t the bulhhead sectlon The ROV
~nterfaceIS ~dent~cal
to the electr~calconnector, and the mode of operatloll 1s sun~lar,w t h a sl~ght
mcrease UI lnatmg and de-~nat~ng force
12.7" ( 323 )

13.6" ( 345

Dia. 3.57 88.4 )

Assessment of Reliability: Quantifying the Improved Reliability of Optical Over

Electrical Systems
In the connector industry. we ale liequently nslctl lo p ~ oide \ all M I HF figure For 0111pl.oducts and
are now gatherillg this data: giveti that reliabilit) is assessed as "failures subsea following apparently
successf~llinstallation". For a ~neaningfulfigure lo be calculated. we need to liave carried out an
investigation and failure analysis to idenlify if the failure slio~lldbe attributed to the connector or to
an exte~nalevent, i.e., did the installation to the cables following the ~nanufactr~rers guidelines and
quality standards, and were the operating hislructions followed in the mating process. Were the
connectors protected with d~unmiesthroughor~tthe period before subsea installation and hook-up,
and was the cathodic protection. where present, to specification and many other items.

The comments below are derived from our esperience with electrical connectors as no installed
optical circuit has yet failed subsea. Is this 100% reliability?
SCADA 2002
Often a fa~ledco~~nector may not be retneved ~fthe system fi~nct~onal~ty
1s not affected by leav~ng~t
m place, such as where a redundant system ex~stsTins affects our ab~lltyto assess r e l ~ a b ~ l ~At y
connector wll generally be rel~able~f~t1s ~nstalledcorrectly and left undrsturbed throi~ghout~ t ls~ f e
so the niunber of makebreak cycles 1s another factor to cons~der Both electncal, and In part~ci~lar
fibre o p t ~ cconnectors, have spec~fied mate cycle I~fetnnesbut accurate mate logs that follow
connectors, and m part~culartest connectors, are not generally hept Gwen the nu~nberof var~ables,
any r e l ~ a b ~ l figures
~ t y should be mewed as an estnnat~onof rellab~l~tyWhat we can po~ntto are the
numbers of cotlnectors 111 servlce and the number of reported fa~lures(very few)

Some of the early OD1 electr~calco~niectorsare now approacln~ig50% of t h e ~ rspec~fied25 year

sub~nergedl~fetnnewthout sliowmg any s ~ gofi fallire a i d some of the earl~ertypes wll be close to
100% The first fibre optic wet-mate connectors have now been subsea for Inore than 5 years of a
specified 25-year servlce l ~ f e

F~breo p t ~ csystems ~nstallat~on offers two major advantages For niost connector components 111 the
system, the assembly ~ n m be t carr~edout at the factory This means that tlie exposed f i b ~ eh a ~ d l m g
and tennl~iat~on work IS carr~edout by the connector suppl~ers'personnel a ~ 111 d a factory settlng
And the del~veredclosed systems ale fi~llyFAT'd before sh~pnlent Secondly, tlns ~ndustryhas not
(so far) Invested In t r a ~ n ~ nthe
y genelal ~nstallat~on worhforce In handlmg opt~calfibre, so the
connector s u p p l ~ e1s~ cune~itlycanylng out tlie on- slte installnt~onof FlTA asse~nbl~es and smnlar
equ~pment 111s wll result 111 a h~glier~ e l ~ a b ~fl o~ ~tthey del~veredsystems, ru~dfor the on-s~te
tenn~nat~on work Also tlie~e1s no opportun~tyfor ' fingel po~nt~ng" ~f a poor ~nstallat~on1s ever
i~ncoveredas a route cause 111 an opt~calconnector fa~lurea~ialys~sRemember, so far no opt~cal
c ~ r c um
~ ta co~npletedconnection system has subsequently faded subsea

Quantifying Electrical Versus F~breOptlc Rellabll~ty

~ tdifficult
Assess~ngr e l ~ a b ~ l 1s y at t h ~ srelat~velyearly stage 111 tlie use of opt~calfibre, but we can
polnt to some theoret~caladvantages

(I) W ~ t helectncal systems, any water Ingress tluough two or Inore levels of seal~ngw l l very
qu~chlyresult 111 a system f a ~ l u ~Opt~cal
e systems are very tolerant to water Ingress and wII
not show iuiy reduct1011111 pe~fonnance A secondary effect h ~ i o w as l hydrogen darken~ng,
where tlie atte~iuat~on of an opt~cals ~ g l a lpasslng throudl a1 affected sectloll of fibre 1s
uicreased, has been largely el~~nlnated through the develop~nelitof hydroge~ihardened fibres,
a i d appropriate fibre cable colistr~ctlon As a very large tract1011of connector fa~luuessubsea
1s tluough seawater Ingress causlng ~uisupportableloss of uisulat~onres~stalceOpt~calfibre
1s an mhe~ently nlore rel~able colnnlunlcatloli ~ n e d ~ u ~than i l copper for tlie subsea

(11) Wli~lsttenn~nat~on appears ~ n ~ t ~ atol l be

y Inore compl~cated,tlie develop~nentof automated
maclnnery for spl~c~ng, pol~sli~ngand testmg has resulted 111 more cons~stentand doctunented
work be~ngdoneby ~nstallat~on teclnnc~ans At the mo~nent,~t 1s necessary for uistallat~onto
be carr~edout by the connector maiufach~rernonnally at the manufacturers fac~llty,as the
end user does not nonnally have the perso~u~el 01 equ~pnlentto cany out tins work Gwen
that factoryco~npletedequ~pmentand 111gIlsystems level FAT wll result In fewer undetected
bu~ldproblems, tli~ssliould result In h~gherr e l ~ a b ~ l ~for
t y opt~calsystems Also tlie use of
trauied field nlstallat~o~~ personnel wtli a cont~nuedf a m ~ l r a ~w~ t~yt tlie
l ~ product should result
m unproved r e l ~ a b ~ lfrom
~ t y any off-s~teor offshore ~nstallnt~on

(111) The fibre 1s more tolerant to h ~ g hte~nperaturesand thirs c a i be used In areas where electr~cal
systems are ~nargnial- down-hole gauges be~ngtlie prllne example here T h ~ wll s result In a
very large ~mprove~nelit ul r e l ~ a b ~ l ~for
t y dowi-hole ~ ~ i s t ~ ~ u n e nfor
t a teluperatuues
t~o~~ above
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120C 150C As wtli all systems, the mstallat~onof opt~calfibre down-hole IS subject to a
learning c t w e , where unforeseen problerns arelw~llbe encountered until tlie uidustry learns
how to rel~ablynistall opt~calfibre In the well The connnerc~aladvantages of mtell~gent
well monitoring will make tins happen

(IV) It IS poss~bletluough tlie use of sopli~st~cated test equlptnent (I e OTDR's and Opt~cal
Ver~fiers)to check a fibre uistallat~onfor excessive strani In tlie fibre along the complete
mstallat~on TIils measurement can be repeated at varlous stages tluough bu~ld and
~nstallat~oil a i d prov~desa very powe~fultool for s~gi-offacceptance of an "as ~nstalled
system Tlirs tecllnology also prov~desa very accurate means for tlie cliaracter~zat~on of
aglng In tlie system, as well as d~agnos~s of system degradat~on or failure Improved
inori~tor~ng tluougli bo~ld,FAT, SIT, ~ristallat~on
and coliinilsslonlng w ~ l result
l 111 ~~nproved
r e l ~ a b ~ l for
~ t ytlie "as-built' system

Early Problems and Solut~ons:Lessons Learned

The early d e c ~ s ~ oton work wtli the evist~ngspace envelope of the electrical connectors and to
d e s ~ g the
i opt~calverslon to fit ~ n t ot h ~ swas very nnportant In easlng tlie trans~t~onfrom electr~cal
systems to opt~cs However, other aspects of the des1g1 d ~ dnitroduce Iiruidling and ~nstallat~on
problems In part~cular,tlie ~natnig~neclian~sm tliat operated the face seals requ~redthat a co~nplete
mate or de~natestroke be made w t l i o ~ ~reversnig
t d~rectlon Operat~ngtlie connector w ~ t l i ~tlie
gu~del~nes suppl~edwtli every co~uiectorproved to be ~ncons~stent, part~cularlywhere locat~on,
access and orlentation (see photo 2) adversely affected operat~on If tlie mate procedure was not
followed, then open seals or ~ntemaldamage could result Qual~ficat~on test~ngand operat~onby
people f a m ~ l ~ wtli
a r the connector resulted In sat~sfactoryoperat~on,but ~t proved ~mposs~ble to
ensure that t h ~ sknowledge was ava~lableevery t ~ m ea connector needed to be mated or demated
-9 :
Here the lesson learned was tliat even thougli tlie product had been fully qualified, perfonnruice IS
defined by how the product works III the field, and the suppl~erneeds to be ready to make d e s ~ g i
~nod~ficat~onsto qualified product to sat~sfyfield ~nstallat~otineeds 111 tli~scase, subsequent re- -
des~gnand re-qual~ficat~on has elnn~natedt h ~ soperat~onaldefect, and co~nbinedwtli other d e s ~ g
enhancements lias resulted in tlie wdely used MK2 wet-mate opt~calconnector

The f i ~ s verslon
t of the wet-mate fibre o p t ~ cconnector also liad a lnn~tedInate cycle spec~ficat~on
20 mates before the connectors needed to be nispected and tlie co~npensat~on 011volume topped off
W h ~ l ethis was suffic~entfor tlie prtmary coiinectors. ~t proved to be too low for tlie test connectors
Havmg tlns lnn~tedInate cycle spec~ficat~on meant tliat an accurate niat~nglog needed to be kept
The connector h~storyshows tliat keep~ngan accurate record like t h ~ sdurmg equlplnent FAT and
SIT, often across more than one site, just doesn't happen Mat~ngtest connectors tliat were outs~de
of tlie~rservlce l ~ f e t ~ ~tonhealthy
e connectors r~skeddepletnlg tlie cotnpensat~ng011 voltune In the
connector due to go subsea

Here the lesson learned was tliat ~t IS unreal~st~c

to expect largely untramed ~nstallat~on
personnel to
keep w t h ~ ntlie operat~onalrequ~re~nents of the product and to keep accurate records that are not
documented 111 thew uistallat~onmanual, wliere no nnnied~ateev~denceof damage IS present

F~eld~nstallationhas also ~mprovedbut t h ~ slias ~ n a ~ n beenl y In tlie t~nietaken for work to be

co~npleted l~nprove~nentsIn equlplnent. such as fi~lly automat~c fus~on spl~cers, have been
mstrtunental In ralslng customer confidence and reduc~ngcosts In rui earher sectlon, 1 referred to
tlie difficulty m quant~fy~ng MTBF due to the many var~ables111 liandlu~gof tlie products Tli~slias
been very ev~dentw t h tlie ~ntroduct~on of tlie opt~calverslons - Inany fa~luresbe~ngattr~butableto
~n~sliandluig or the lack of proper protect~onprlor to ~nstallat~on
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Photo 3 sliows another instance of improper handling that would have a material effect on the
reliability of (in this case) an optical Wet-Mate connector.

Plroto 3: Protective Coverirzg

Plroto 2: Access Linutations

All connectors are sent into the field with protective caps or fully fiuictional subsea rated dummies.
The use of this type of wrapping invalidates tlie warranty, and will not enhance the life expectancy
of the product a1 all - another example of how incorrect handling and maintenance can affect tlie life
of a subsea connector.

Applications for Optical Systenis

As of Jani~ary2002, Ocean Design had produced in excess of 1400 optical products for use in the
subsea environment. The Company is not aware of any post-installation SUBSEA failures of any of
the optical circuits that total (at an average of 4 circuits per connector) over 5600 contacts. These
have seen a number of differing applications, all of which required capabilities that were beyond
those offered by traditional electrical systems.

The development of subsea optical and hybrid connection and termination systems was initiated in
the early 1980's by the ROV mani~facturersas way of improving the control functions of tlieir
vehicles. As mentioned earlier, this was a very demandu~gapplication that achieved much of the
fibre optic in cable design necessary for dynamic applications. Cables for static applications had
been in use for many years prior to this in the Submarine Teleco~nmunicationsindustry and were
thus well proven.

The first application for 38 sets of wet-mate optical connectors was in January of 1997. These first
connectors were for fiscal quality, optical gas flow meters for Phillips on the Little Dotty
development in the southern North Sea. These first diver-mate connectors are still filnctioning
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Norsk Hydro's Troll Pilot development followed on from their experience with wet-mate fiber
optic terminations on some of the Troll i~mbilicalssupplied by Alcatel. As discussed above, Troll
Pilot uses optical fiber coinmunication to support a 1000-fold increase in bandwidth demand. and to
prevent data corruption through EM1 (Electro Magnetic Interference) from the I IKV power supply
to the water injection pump on the system. This system eventually used almost 50 MKI & MKll wet-
mate connectors, and I6 jumper assemblies between the two main contractors, ABB and KOP.

Plroto 4: Q p k l corrrrector /
jumper instnllnliort sltowing
botlt connectors and

BP have used optical fiber-only communication on both the Nile and the Kings Peak (BP's part of
the Canyon Express) development. Here, more than 150 wet-mate fiber optic and hybrid connectors
were delivered. The BP systems were installed at a water depth > 20001n. An added bonus of optic
fiber in this system is data security, where tlvee operators are sharing the s a n e main umbilical.

Petrobras SBMS 500, the 5MW ~nultiphasepump development uses optical commu~iicatior~
to the
control module to prevent EM1 based data co~ruption.

Fibre optic down-hole gauge systems have potential to replace electrical gauges for some
applications, particularly where temperatures get above 150" C. The first commercial application of
this tecllnology was for Shell on ETAP (Eastern Trough Area Project). Here up to 10 wells will be
installed across 3 fields; Skua, Egret and Heron. These were specified as HTHP wells with
temperatures up to 160' C. The three fields are linked back to the BP Mamock platform by a 3-
section umbilical totaling 27 km. Each umbilical sectio~iis linked to the next by wet-mate optical
connectors and penetrators. The umbilical terminations are linked to the x-trees by wet-male
connectors and jumper assemblies. The passive dowi-hole sensor is addressed from the platfonn,
and the modulated optical signal is reflected back to the platform on the same fiber, so the signal
takes a 54 km round trip to the furthest well. lrnportantly for reliability and low MTTR, all of the
electronics and laser sources are accessible on the platfonn. This system comprised 17 wet-mate
connectors, 7 jumpers and 5 FITA's.

A pennanent seabed seismic system for kequent. periodic reservoir monitoring is being developed
for one operator. This system has specified 88 miles of geophone cables to be laid and trenched in
parallel lines across the reservoir. Here, data gathering from the electrical sensor cables is carried
out sobsea, with the formatted data being transmitted to the FPV on optical fibre.

Oceanographic applications for the wet-mate connector have been many and varied, often on the
abyssal plains, in water depths from 10,000 to 20,000 A. These include:
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Earthquahe detection systein and subsea observatory deployed in ultra-deep water, the fust of a
niunber of systeins deployed in up to 6,0001n (20,000 ft) water depth off the coast of Japan for
the JAMSTEC organizat~on Del~verlesbegan 111 1997 a l d have been followed up by two
further ~nstallat~ons wt11 a total of 8 wet-mate connectors, 14 jumpers and 4 field ~nstallable
cable tenn~nationsA novel feature of these systelns 1s that they are t ~ e d~ n t oold NTT telephone
cables i ~ s ~ na gnovel wet-~nate,~mpeda~~ce-n~atcl~ed,
co-axla1 co~ulectordeveloped by Ocean

Hams 1s deployng a umber of sun~larsystems aroimd the world Illese systems co~nmim~cate
w t h a shore base by satell~tefiom a buoy The first system was del~veredat the end of 1998 and
~nstalledat a depth of 3000 m The second system was del~vered111 2000 a ~ has d been ulstalled
In the Med~terranea~

A deep-water Neutron Telescope 1s be~ngdeployed In the Med~terranean The fin~shedsystem

w l l be deployment at approx~mately lOOOln and wll ~nclude upwards of 100 wet-mate
connectors and penetrators ~ n t oa number of large data gather~ngsystenls Many of the fibre
o p t ~junpers
c wll be up to lO01n long

The UK MOD are replac~nge x ~ s t ~ nelectr~cal

g system w t h fibre opt~csfor the~rsubsea nolse
measiuement ranges

Ded~cated-use subsea commun~cat~on system is under development 240 connectors have

already been del~vered,and the fust follow-on order of 100 coimectors 1s In bu~ldT h ~ ssystem 1s
spec~fiedfor water depths to 5000111

A US lnst~tuteof Technology has developed a prototype AUV docku~gstat~onat one end of an

u~nb~l~T c ahl~ AUV
s docks at a depth of 50111 to a palr (one Naut~lusand one Wet-Mate opt~cal)

Wh~lstthe ~nstalledniunbers of fibre o p t ~ cconnectors are not great coinpared to them electncal
equ~valents,the feedback fro111operators 1s encouragmg As I have ~nd~cated earher, most problems
dunng the co~npletedprojects have occiirred prlor to deployment Once the systein has been put Into
operation, there are no reports of pioble~nsw ~ t hthe opt~calfibre 111 the systein Since the first
mstallation m January 1997, there is now a cont~nuoisservlce h~storyapproacl~~ng 5 % years The
"zero" installed fibre failiues also extend to the distr~but~on syste~ns,and in part~cular,the cabl~ng
w111ch has proved as rel~ableas electr~calcable and d ~ s t r ~ b u t ~syste~ns

We have endeavored to Improve system rel~abil~ty tluougll extens~veuse of proven d e s ~ gfeatures ~

common to the range of electncal colulectors These ~ncludefield-proven ROV mterfaces and
operat~onalenvelopes, and standard d~nlens~ons for operat1011w t h exlst~ngstab-plate d e s ~ g l sThis
reduces the changes reqi~~red In the tool~ngand equ~pment~nterfacesneeded to acconl~nodatefibre
o p t ~ cterm~nat~onsto a minimum The supply of "syste~ns"rather than "components" also makes for
s~mplercustoiner operat~onsand enhanced reliab~l~ty as c o ~ u ~ e c t ~systeins
on can be fi~llyassembled
at the vendor f a c ~ l ~and
t y subjected to rlgorous Factory Acceptance Test~ngT h ~ sd~ffersfiom the
nonnal practlce w t h electncal co~mect~on systems where ~t 1s more common to s h ~ pconnectors for
mstallat~onand fulal w n n g at the customer f a c ~ l ~ tEnhanced
y customer acceptance can, therefore,
benefit from Increased ilnderstand~ng of the d~fferences 111 the handlmg and mstallat~on
methodologies between electr~caland fibre o p t ~ csystems T h ~ understanding
s w ~ l lead
l to realization
that just because it's made of glass, opt~calfibre ~ s n ' tnecessarily frag~le
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for potentla1 users

l cheaper to use a convent~onalelectrical system

Is ~tessent~alto use optrcs' 11 general, ~tw ~ l be
but a careful system evaluat~onmay show that overall. an opt~calfibre system 1s more cost-
effectwe Tli~sw ~ l llargely be d ~ ~ v ebyn the bu~ldand ~nstallat~oncost of umb~l~cal So, opt~cs
w l l not only be used where there 1s no techn~calalteniat~ve

Can the vendor prov~dea fi~llyconipleted system' It IS far more des~rablefor the custon~erto
recelve a product where ALL of tile more frag~lecomponents ale already moiu~ted protected
and subjected to a full Factory Acceptance Test

Do we use the vendor s techn~c~ans or l~aveour owl tra~ned' From the vendor s po~ntof v ~ e w ,
the answer here w l l ~ionnallybe "use our techn~c~ans ' W l ~ ~ ltsht ~ smay seem to be a matter of
~ncreasedsales and revenue for the vendor, ~t IS also (as showi eall~er111 tlie text) very much a
matter of repi~tat~on The vendor s techn~c~ans w ~ l be
l corista~~tly worknig on the sanie or s ~ n i ~ l a r
types of product a i d ~nstallat~onT h ~ means
s that not only are they ui nlole recent practlce than a
custo~ner'stechn~c~an, but they w ~ l lalso be able to co~npletetasks far qu~cker- hence 111 some
cases, at lower cost The final factor to cons~derhere IS that i~nlessa s~gi~ficant number of the
customer s techn~c~ans are tra~ned111 the product and warranted by the vendor to cany out the
~nstallat~on,~t 1s very l~kely(confinned by our euper~ence)that the correct people wv~llnot be
ava~lablewhen requ~red

Are we fi~llyaware of what 1s ava~lableIn tenns of not only the tenn~nat~on dev~ces(connectors
and penetrators) b ~ also
~ t of the anc~llaryproducts s11c11as j u n c t ~ oboxes'
~~ As ~nd~cated above, ~t
l ~ f y I can say w ~ t h
IS preferable for the vendor to snpply as much as poss~bleto s ~ ~ ~ l pliandl~ng
some confidence that the veudor w ~ l lbe del~ghtedto prov~deass~stance111 spec~fyn~g a co~nplete
system ~nsteadof just sub-asse~nbl~es

Do we have, or do we 111te11dto acquire, tlie necessary test equipment for opt~calsyste~ns' T h ~ s

equ~p~nent 1s very expensive and does reqwre a degree of expert~se111 ~ t suse There are h ~ r e
colnpanles who prov~dethe dev~cesbut a v a ~ l a b ~ lcan ~ t y be a problem as can a lack of f a ~ n ~ l ~ a r ~ t y
w t h d~ffenngmachuies The tllne taken for an operator to become f a ~ n ~ lw ~ tahr a new plece of
e n t to be factored In to the cost of field servlce a c t ~ v ~ tIn
rental e q i ~ ~ p ~ nneeds y a d d ~ t ~ oone
n , of
the major benefits of fibre o p t ~ c~nstallat~on 1s the deta~ledanalys~sof the system durlng
assembly, SIT, load-out and pre-and post-~nstallat~onIt IS nnperat~vethat t h ~ sserles of
~neasiuelnents be performed i ~ s ~ nthe g sanle equlplnent, and where pract~cable,by the same
teclui~c~an T h ~ s allows for accurate overlay analys~s, w111cl1 as the transocean~c
teleco~n~nim~cat~o~ls ~ndustryhas de~nonstrated,IS a very powerfill tool for system acceptance.
faultfind~ngand ~ n o ~ l ~ t o rof
l n system
g aging character~st~cs

To sum up then we can conclude

The early slgns are that fibre o p t ~ cconnection systems have r e l ~ a b ~ llevels
~ t y equ~valentto those
of electrical connect~onsystems, w ~ t hall the nld~cat~ons be~ngthat uslng opt~calfibre w l l
s ~ g l ~ f i c r u ~enhance
tly systen~~ e l ~ a b ~ l ~ t y

Gwen cons~deratel~andl~ng and operat1011w t l i ~ nthe parameters set ont In the operat~onand
the present dev~cesare suffic~entlyn~ggedfor nonnal operat~on

Protect~ondev~cessuch as caps and diuiim~esare very essent~alto the long-term r e l ~ a b ~ lof

~ t the
products and sl~ouldALWAYS be ~nstalled

W h ~ l efibre o p t ~ cconnector technolog 1s currently seen as "enabl~ng, allow~ngmore of the

c a p a b ~ l ~ t ~ofe ssurface-based fibre o p t ~ csystems to be appl~edto those used In the subsea
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envuoment Eventually subsea fibre opt~csystems w ~ l lbe as colmnon and lnd~spensableIn
theu market as electr~calco~uiect~on
systems have come to be on all but the snnplest d~rect
hydraul~csubsea nistallat~ons