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SPECIAL REPORT

Next Generation Plugs and Receptacles for Offshore Electric Equipment Applications

The Next Generation of Power Plugs/ Receptacles Maximizes Safety and Productivity in Offshore Environments A New and More Demanding Environment Into the Deep: Connectors for Deepwater and Hazardous Environments How Oil and Gas Companies Can Ensure a Safe, Long Lasting Power Supply The Future of Electrical Power Connectors in Offshore Environments Sponsored by A company of MARECHAL ELECTRIC GROUP

Published by Global Business Media


Plugs & Receptacles

Major Product Lines

Engineered for Safety

Switch-Rated

& Reliability Hazardous Location

Multipin

Featuring next generation butt-style contacts for superior performance

High Amp/Single Pole

Meltric Corporation manufactures plugs and receptacles featuring a unique, butt-style contact technology that is ideally suited for the hazardous and non-hazardous locations found in an offshore environment. This next generation contact system is based on decades of experience in severe applications and enables both operational and safety benefits that cannot be offered by traditional plugs and receptacles.

Common Applications Motor/Pump Plugs

Welding Receptacles

meltric.com • 800.433.7642

Shore Power

Power + Control

A company of MARECHAL ELECTRIC GROUP


NEXT GENERATION PLUGS AND RECEPTACLES FOR OFFSHORE ELECTRIC EQUIPMENT APPLICATIONS

SPECIAL REPORT

Next Generation Plugs and Receptacles for Offshore Electric Equipment Applications

Contents Foreword 2 Tom Cropper, Editor

The Next Generation of Power Plugs/ Receptacles Maximizes Safety and Productivity in Offshore Environments A New and More Demanding Environment Into the Deep: Connectors for Deepwater and Hazardous Environments How Oil and Gas Companies Can Ensure a Safe, Long Lasting Power Supply The Future of Electrical Power Connectors in Offshore Environments Sponsored by

The Next Generation of Power Plugs/Receptacles 3 Maximizes Safety and Productivity in Offshore Environments Meltric Corporation

A company of MARECHAL ELECTRIC GROUP

Published by Global Business Media

Published by Global Business Media

Introduction Advanced Contact Technology Operational Benefits

Global Business Media Limited 62 The Street Ashtead Surrey KT21 1AT United Kingdom

Enhanced Features Maximize Safety, Functionality, and Durability

Switchboard: +44 (0)1737 850 939 Fax: +44 (0)1737 851 952 Email: info@globalbusinessmedia.org Website: www.globalbusinessmedia.org

A New and More Demanding Environment

Publisher Kevin Bell Editor Tom Cropper Business Development Director Marie-Anne Brooks Senior Project Manager Steve Banks Advertising Executives Michael McCarthy Abigail Coombes Production Manager Paul Davies For further information visit: www.globalbusinessmedia.org The opinions and views expressed in the editorial content in this publication are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily represent the views of any organization with which they may be associated. Material in advertisements and promotional features may be considered to represent the views of the advertisers and promoters. The views and opinions expressed in this publication do not necessarily express the views of the Publishers or the Editor. While every care has been taken in the preparation of this publication, neither the Publishers nor the Editor are responsible for such opinions and views or for any inaccuracies in the articles.

Š 2015. The entire contents of this publication are protected by copyright. Full details are available from the Publishers. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the copyright owner.

Conclusion

7

Tom Cropper, Editor

A Difficult Market Deep Water Drilling Will Continue

Into the Deep: Connectors for 9 Deepwater and Hazardous Environments

James Butler, Staff Writer

The Rise of Deep Water Evolution of Materials Everyday Use

How Oil and Gas Companies Can Ensure a Safe, Long Lasting Power Supply

11

Jo Roth, Staff Writer

Safety Robust Products Experience of Providers

The Future of Electrical Power 13 Connectors in Offshore Environments Tom Cropper, Editor

At the Crossroads Moving to the Future

References 15

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NEXT GENERATION PLUGS AND RECEPTACLES FOR OFFSHORE ELECTRIC EQUIPMENT APPLICATIONS

Foreword O

FFSHORE OIL and gas platforms operate

out to tap deeper oil reserves located farther from the

a delicate balancing act. The risks are so

shore. However, a combination of increased regulatory

high and the profit margins so slim that every

requirements and a tight economic environment

single component must perform to the maximum.

mean the challenge is considerable. Tight profit

While a great deal of attention is given to dramatic

margins mean that these small devices must produce

technological advances which push forward the

improved electrical performance and safety while also

boundaries of what drilling companies can do,

reducing the overall operating cost.

none of them are possible without one thing –

It is no easy task and elsewhere in this Report, we

electricity. How that is delivered depends greatly on

look at the major benefits the latest products can bring

small details such as power plugs and receptacles.

to an operation and where the technology is going.

In the opening article in this Special Report, we hear

We look at recent developments such as power plugs

from one of the leading players in this market. Meltric

for ultra-deep water environments, and new contact

Corporation specializes in producing high quality

technologies which promise to enable the next

advanced plugs for hazardous environments. As

generation of receptacles to operate within even the

well as showcasing their own range of receptacles

harshest of environments.

for the offshore industry, they also talk about some of

As with so many aspects of offshore oil and gas,

the more advanced developmental trends, including

the market is in an interesting phase – one in which

sophisticated contact technology which reduces wear,

considerable challenges are being met by innovation

improves electrical performance and enables easier

and invention.

switch off. We will then examine the wider environment. There is a large market opportunity for developers of plugs as aging infrastructure is replaced and new rigs set

Tom Cropper Editor

Tom Cropper has produced articles and reports on various aspects of global business over the past 15 years. He has also worked as a copywriter for some of the largest corporations in the world, including ING, KPMG and the World Wildlife Fund.

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NEXT GENERATION PLUGS AND RECEPTACLES FOR OFFSHORE ELECTRIC EQUIPMENT APPLICATIONS

The Next Generation of Power Plugs/Receptacles Maximizes Safety and Productivity in Offshore Environments

Switch-Rated Plugs & Receptacles DECONTACTOR™ Series

Meltric Corporation

“OFF” Button THE BUTT-STYLE CONTACT TECHNOLOGY UTILIZED IN MELTRIC CORPORATION’S PLUGS AND RECEPTACLES ENABLES OPERATIONAL AND SAFETY BENEFITS THAT CANNOT BE OFFERED BY TRADITIONAL PLUGS AND RECEPTACLES.

Introduction Today’s new generation of plugs and receptacles improve the operational effectiveness of offshore oil rigs. Whether used to connect power to welders, motors, pumps, lighting, portable equipment, umbilical reels or drilling controls, an offshore rig’s functioning can ride upon the ability of a plug and receptacle to safely and reliably connect or disconnect power and control signals to the equipment that drives the rig’s production capabilities and overall productivity. An offshore drilling rig needs an electrical connector system – consisting of hundreds of power plugs and receptacles across the rig -- that performs with a high level of reliability, durability and operator safety. But not all electrical connectors are created equal. Not all electrical plugs and receptacles can provide the durability, performance and operator safety necessary in offshore environments, and not all can withstand the severe weather, presence of seawater, chemical agents, combustible dusts, hydrocarbon clouds and flammable gases frequently found on offshore rigs. Meltric Corporation, a leading manufacturer of industrial plugs and receptacles, produces rugged, high performance, and safety-engineered plugs and receptacles featuring a unique contact

technology that is ideally suited for the hazardous and non-hazardous locations found in an offshore environment. This next generation contact system is based on decades of experience in severe applications and enables both operational and safety benefits that cannot be offered by traditional plugs and receptacles. This article discusses how this unique contact technology can enable power plugs and receptacles as well as multipin connectors, single pole connectors, and high amperage plugs and receptacles to enhance workplace safety while also providing operational excellence and maintenance efficiencies.

UL & CSA Switch-Rated t

Up to 75hp & 200A

t

Type 4X

t

Poly or Metal

Advanced Contact Technology The next generation contact technology utilized in Meltric and other manufacturer’s plugs and receptacles was developed to overcome the safety shortcomings of conventional pin and sleeve connectors. The advantages of this contact technology in ensuring a highly safe, reliable and durable power connection depend upon three essential factors: contact design, contact isolation, and contact material. Contact Design: Since conventional plugs and receptacles employ a sliding pin and sleeve

for non-hazardous environments

A company of MARECHAL ELECTRIC GROUP

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NEXT GENERATION PLUGS AND RECEPTACLES FOR OFFSHORE ELECTRIC EQUIPMENT APPLICATIONS

The advantages of this contact technology in ensuring a highly safe, reliable and durable power connection depend upon three essential factors: contact design, contact isolation, and contact material

MELTRIC’S SWITCH-RATED PLUGS AND RECEPTACLES FACILITATE PLUG AND PLAY MOTOR CHANGEOUTS IN NON-HAZARDOUS AREAS.

contact arrangement, the force of frictional pressure hold the contacts together. But as pin and sleeve contacts wear over time, the contact pressure changes so the connection can become either loose or difficult to operate. To overcome the effects of wear as well as the difficulties in the operation of the device, this new generation of plugs and receptacles employ a spring-loaded, butt-contact technology, similar to that used in contactors, which ensures proper and consistent contact force and facilitates quick breaking of the contacts to minimize arcing. The contact pressure is generated by a helical spring in the receptacle contact which is compressed as the plug is inserted. This spring loading of the contacts provides the consistent force needed for a good, low resistance connection that adapts to wear and manufacturing tolerances. It also helps to make these plugs and receptacles easier to operate; insertion forces are reasonable and their pushbutton disconnection automatically ejects the plug to the ‘off’ position. Contact Material: Conventional pin and sleeve connectors are typically manufactured with brass (copper and zinc alloy) because it is plentiful and easy to machine. However, brass has a number of limitations that affect its performance as a contact material. Brass oxidizes at ambient temperature and in the presence of moisture. This increases its contact resistance, increasing heat build-up and thereby decreasing the quality and reliability of the electrical connection. Brass also wears rapidly and pits quickly under arcing. These issues deteriorate the connection and may cause the plug and receptacle contacts to weld or arc during disconnection. To overcome the durability problems of brass contacts, some plugs and receptacles, like 4 | WWW.OFFSHORETECHNOLOGYREPORTS.COM

Meltric’s DECONTACTOR™ series use solid silver-nickel contact surfaces to take advantage of the beneficial physical properties of nickel and the excellent electrical characteristics of silver. Silver-nickel maintains a low contact resistance and superior electrical properties after oxidation, helping to avoid the overheating problems seen on brass contacts. Silver-nickel has excellent wear resistance, withstands arcing very well, and only welds at extremely high pressure and temperature. Silver-nickel also performs well in wet and corrosive environments, and it resists deterioration over time even in a seawater environment. Contact Isolation: Drawing an arc during plug removal is an inherent hazard with pin and sleeve devices. Since their live parts may be accessible to the operator, the potential for dangerous arc flash accidents exist. Power plugs and receptacles that utilize spring loaded buttstyle contacts eliminate this hazard by isolating the making and breaking of the live contacts in enclosed arc chambers, and shielding the live parts behind a safety shutter that completes a dead front design and ensures that the plug contacts are de-energized before a worker can remove the plug from its receptacle.

Operational Benefits An offshore drilling rig has hundreds of pieces of equipment that need to operate reliably in order to achieve efficient and profitable production rates. Given the difficulties of working offshore, efficient installation and maintenance can affect the financial viability of rigs. This new generation of plugs and receptacles with spring-loaded, buttstyle contacts provide significant benefits over hard wiring or other plugs and receptacles in non-


NEXT GENERATION PLUGS AND RECEPTACLES FOR OFFSHORE ELECTRIC EQUIPMENT APPLICATIONS

hazardous as well as hazardous environments and in all phases of a rig operating life – installation, operation, maintenance and even temporary decommissioning for relocation. Construction and commissioning costs can be reduced by using switch-rated plugs & receptacles to provide convenient and cost effective line-of sight disconnects wherever they are needed. They can replace non-fused disconnect switches in many applications. These devices can also be used to significantly reduce offshore construction time by allowing equipment or modular sections of a rig to be connected with plug and play simplicity. Similarly, decommissioning and relocation costs are minimized because these connectors greatly reduce the amount of electrical work that needs to be performed offshore. The use of these devices for connection of critical equipment enables efficient maintenance in hard to access areas and in inclement conditions, reducing lost production time. Operating and maintenance costs are lowered through the improved durability of these devices. Furthermore, their unparalleled safety allows equipment connections to be made and broken by qualified workers without the need for cumbersome personal protective equipment. Some examples of this new generation of plugs and receptacles from Meltric Corporation are described below: Power Plugs & Receptacles (Non-Hazardous Locations) Meltric DECONTACTOR Series switch-rated plugs and receptacles maximize the productivity of offshore maintenance. Its integral switching mechanism with pushbutton disconnection allows a variety of electrical loads common to the offshore environment -- motors, pumps, welders, etc. -- to be disconnected, changed out for maintenance, re-connected and placed back on line often with plug and play simplicity. Since they are an approved line-of-sight disconnect, they are preferred in crowded environments where mounting external disconnects is not available. DECONTACTOR receptacles eliminate arc flash hazards by incorporating an enclosed arc chamber and a dead front safety shutter. Making and breaking connections with DECONTACTOR plugs and receptacles is a NFPA 70E defined “Normal Operation,” therefore, the donning of cumbersome PPE is not required and NFPA 70E compliance is greatly simplified. Power Plugs & Receptacles (Hazardous Locations) Meltric DXN Series plugs and receptacles are ideal for connecting power to motors, welders and other portable equipment located in hazardous

THIS NEW GENERATION OF PLUGS AND RECEPTACLES WITH SPRING-LOADED, BUTT-STYLE CONTACTS PROVIDE SIGNIFICANT BENEFITS OVER HARD WIRING OR OTHER PLUGS AND RECEPTACLES IN NON-HAZARDOUS AS WELL

Hazardous Location Plugs & Receptacles

AS HAZARDOUS ENVIRONMENTS AND IN ALL PHASES OF A RIG OPERATING LIFE – INSTALLATION, OPERATION, MAINTENANCE.

DXN Series

areas. DXNs are particularly suitable for motor applications because they are horsepower rated. Furthermore, they can be configured for use in wall-mounted or in-line (cord to cord) applications. DXN Series Hazardous Location plugs and receptacles employ flame-proof arc chambers that contain any ignitions of gas or dust due to arcing while its flame-proof pathways dissipate the pressure. When the plugs and receptacle are disconnected, the receptacle maintains a flameproof pathway between the safety shutter and the main interior component. This design ensures that no arc, flame or other ignition source can be transmitted to the external environment. Multipin Plugs & Receptacles (Hazardous or Non-Hazardous Locations) Multipin plugs and receptacles are designed for low amperage control applications. Models are available with 7 to 37 butt-style contacts. Hazardous location multipin devices feature rugged, copper-free aluminum housings for maximum durability and protection. SPeX Single Pole Plugs & Receptacles (Hazardous or Non-Hazardous Locations) Single pole plugs and connectors are suitable for high amperage applications up to 680A and 1000V. The SPeX Series feature a mechanical/ electrical interlock that prevents connection or disconnection under load.

Enhanced Features Maximize Safety, Functionality, and Durability An offshore drilling rig poses considerable challenges for an electrical connection system; it’s as extreme an operating environment as exists in the world. It also means traditional electrical connectors are often not the answer.

t

20 to 60 Amps

t

Horsepower rated

t

CSA Listed

t

Zones 1 and 2

t

Class 1 Div 2

A company of MARECHAL ELECTRIC GROUP

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NEXT GENERATION PLUGS AND RECEPTACLES FOR OFFSHORE ELECTRIC EQUIPMENT APPLICATIONS

Meltric is strategically aligned to serve the needs of offshore oil and gas operators that desire to ensure electrical safety and improve maintenance productivity

MELTRIC PLUGS AND RECEPTACLES ARE SAFE TO MAKE AND BREAK EVEN IN OVERLOAD CONDITIONS. ONCE THE PAWL ON THE RECEPTACLE IS PRESSED THE PLUG IS SAFELY EJECTED TO THE OFF POSITION.

Engineers should consider the need for the following features before specifying a particular plug and receptacle: Dead Front Safety Shutter: A safety shutter that closes over the receptacle contacts before the plug can be removed. As a result workers have no exposure to arcing, or access to live parts, at any time during or after the removal of the plug. The safety shutter can only be opened by the insertion and rotation of an electrically compatible plug. Switch-Ratings: Switch-rated plugs and receptacles are UL and CSA approved for ‘motor circuit’ and ‘branch circuit’ disconnect switching in non-hazardous environments. As a result, technicians safely connect to motors, welders or other electrical equipment with plug and play simplicity. Auxiliary/Pilot Contacts: Optional auxiliary/ pilot contacts that allow users the convenience and flexibility of controlling auxiliary equipment, monitoring process parameters, motor temperature, and/or communicating alarms without the need for secondary connectors back to the control center. Automatic Watertightness: Plugs and receptacles that achieve rated watertightness simply by mating the plug with the receptacle offer a major advantage over those that require an additional ring to be tightened to attain watertightness -- users frequently fail to fully twist the ring, resulting in a leaky connection.

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Conclusion The butt-style contacts utilized in Meltric plugs and receptacles give drilling rigs a next generation connection technology that offers safety and operational advantages over hard wiring or pin and sleeve plugs and receptacles. This article discussed specific benefits that are enabled by the unique contact technology provided in Meltric plugs and receptacles. As a result, Meltric is strategically aligned to serve the needs of offshore oil and gas operators that desire to ensure electrical safety and improve maintenance productivity.


NEXT GENERATION PLUGS AND RECEPTACLES FOR OFFSHORE ELECTRIC EQUIPMENT APPLICATIONS

A New and More Demanding Environment

Multipin Plugs & Receptacles

Tom Cropper, Editor The next generation of receptacles will have to cope with an increasingly demanding offshore environment.

T

HE OFFSHORE market is an area of continual innovation with every component, no matter how small, having to play its part. Although little is written about developments in connector technology, this is still an area of immense importance. With thousands of connections in place all around an oil rig, this small and often neglected area, is one which has a critical role to play in making sure the wider operation runs smoothly. As with any component, though, the direction of development is dependent on the wider environment. Already products must be compatible with the highest hazardous environment ratings such as ATEX, IECEx & CSA. However, with exploration moving into uncharted territory, it is likely that future years will see the strains grow to an unprecedented level. In assessing the state of the market and its future direction, therefore, it is important to examine developments in the wider offshore environment.

A Difficult Market It is fair to say that the last couple of years have been challenging for the offshore oil and gas industry as a series of shocks have had a traumatic impact. From a position in the early part of 2014 in which oil prices hovered around the $100 per barrel, they have entered into a nose-dive. The catalyst was a perfect storm of three or four changes hitting the market all at the same time. The first was the global economy. Early in 2014, demand forecasts had been based on prospects for a healthy recovery fueled by demand in the US, China, Brazil and other rapidly developing nations. However, this did not fully materialize. As recovery remained more sluggish than expected, growth forecasts were progressively slashed throughout the year. At the same time, the US began ramping up production with the arrival of shale gas.

The result was a rapid increase in oil supply. Production increased by 1.2million barrels per day to 8.7million – the largest rise for 100 years1. As supply rose, pressure grew on OPEC to cut its own production in order to support prices. However, to the surprise of the market, it declined. A high price, the cartel reasoned, benefitted its competitors more than the cartel itself. While oil in the Middle East can be extracted relatively cheaply, they hoped that US producers would struggle to survive in the current conditions. However, while there have been some challenging times for US shale producers, they have managed to continue production. Although there is little consensus on just how long the new US oil boom will last, there are few signs that it will end within the next few years. For offshore oil producers, however, the problems were stark. Extracting oil from offshore reserves is extremely expensive. As oil prices plummeted to $40 per barrel this became unsustainable for many companies. Major players such as Shell and BP reacted by slashing their offshore budgets2. There has been a bounce of sorts, with prices reaching between $60 and $70 at times, but they suffered a renewed crisis in August with the Chinese Stock Market collapse. Even now, global demand looks sluggish as OPEC has once more slashed its forecasts for oil production growth3. In this new, tighter operating environment, the pressure is on offshore producers to reduce operating costs. This means that every component of the oil rig must operate to maximize efficiency and connections play an important role in this. Reliability is crucial and strong connections prevent interruptions to power which, in turn, results in reduced productivity and increased running costs.

PXN12c, DXN25c, DXN37c Series

t

12 - 37 Spring-loaded, Butt-style Contacts

t

Rugged Construction

t

IP66+IP67 Watertightness

Deep Water Drilling Will Continue For all these challenges, though, deep water exploration will expand and continue. Rigs are becoming bigger, more sophisticated and

A company of MARECHAL ELECTRIC GROUP

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NEXT GENERATION PLUGS AND RECEPTACLES FOR OFFSHORE ELECTRIC EQUIPMENT APPLICATIONS

For all these challenges, though, deep water exploration will expand and continue. Rigs are becoming bigger, more sophisticated and expensive, with massive infrastructure demands

expensive, with massive infrastructure demands. For example, at the end of 2014, in the midst of one of the biggest traumas to hit the market in the last century, Chevron christened its gargantuan $8bn drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico. This 160,000 ton behemoth is operating off the coast of New Orleans drilling at depths of 26,500 feet below sea level. Once fully up and running it is hoped this rig will produce 94,000 barrels of oil per day and 21 million cubic feet of natural gas4. As the press has suggested, It might be ‘bad timing’, but it represents an acknowledgement that, for all its challenges, the world still needs oil from deep water. Existing resources are drying up which means new sources must be discovered. This is pushing drilling companies out into ever more hazardous environments. In the summer of 2015, the US Government gave the go ahead for Shell to restart oil exploration in the Arctic. Such prospects sum up the conundrum facing the oil companies. The Arctic Ocean is possibly a goldmine for oil with geological surveys suggesting that billions of barrels of oil and vast reserves of natural gas may be waiting to be discovered. However, all this comes at a price. The Arctic represents the extreme of conditions which oil operators are facing. It is the kind of area which, until now, would have been considered

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off limits. Elsewhere in the world, oil companies are tapping wells in areas which, until now, have always been considered unreachable. This creates multiple challenges from hazardous chemicals, rough sea, clouds of hydrocarbons, fire, heat and extreme weather conditions placing an enormous strain on infrastructure. The remote conditions create their own challenges. While the risk of running into difficulties increases, the consequences if something should go wrong are also that much greater. Equipment must attain new heights of reliability and extended life with repair increasingly costly and difficult. In addition to new exploration, existing wells are seeing their life extended far beyond their original design. New oil recovery techniques are extracting increased amounts of oil from the seabed. Equipment and infrastructure is aging and needs to be replaced. An example is the Valhall oil field off the coast of Norway which recently completed a major refit to extend its life a further 40 years into the future5. There is then a continued market for electrical connectors and a need to innovate as oil producers overhaul existing systems and fit out new ones for deep water exploration. However, for all this opportunity, the demands are exacting and this next generation of technologies will have to make giant strides in development.


NEXT GENERATION PLUGS AND RECEPTACLES FOR OFFSHORE ELECTRIC EQUIPMENT APPLICATIONS

Into the Deep: Connectors for Deepwater and Hazardous Environments

High Amp Plugs & Receptacles

James Butler, Staff Writer Deepwater exploration is on the increase, but can oil producers safely and successfully find a way of tapping these reserves?

SPeX Series D

ESPITE OIL prices hovering at the low range of $40-$60, the future of the oil and gas industry is still in deep water. Although some of the world’s biggest oil companies have scaled back their offshore budgets in recent years, regions such as the Gulf of Mexico, Brazil and the Arctic continue to represent tempting propositions with billions of barrels of undiscovered oil just waiting to be tapped. Doing so, however, presents challenges to which electrical supply systems will have to be able to rise. As a result, we are now seeing the emergence of a new generation of highly advanced connectors capable of surviving in the incredibly harsh environment of deep water offshore installations.

The Rise of Deep Water The offshore oil industry has an interesting problem. Billions of barrels of oil remain locked away deep within the Earth’s crust in regions which have always been beyond our reach. However, for the first time, the technology exists to reach it. Doing so, though, is a challenge. Deep water exploration is expensive and hazardous. With oil prices at their lowest levels for years, tapping these reserves in a commercially sustainable way is a challenge. Moreover, in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the industry is maintaining a closer focus on safety than ever before. Tapping deep oil reserves safely is a major challenge. The potential is there for all to see. For instance, experts believe that there is currently between 25 and 24 billion BOE of oil waiting to be discovered beneath the North Sea compared with a total 42 billion BOE which has already been produced. In the Gulf of Mexico, an estimated 27 billion barrels lie untapped in deep water, or a quarter of the total reserves6. Shell’s latest Arctic venture, meanwhile, rests on geological surveys

which suggests that 13% of the world’s remaining oil reserves and 30% of remaining natural gas lies locked beneath the ice7. In the run-up to the oil price crash of 2014, companies were planning to invest more than £40 billion in spending over the following five years8. Such optimistic predictions were made possible because of a high crude oil price at the time. Today, with prices less than half what they were, the proposition is very different. Shell is among the big names to have announced significant cuts in its offshore budget in the last 12 months. That doesn’t mean deep water exploration is dead – far from it. The challenge has simply become somewhat more complicated. A lower price means every piece of infrastructure needs to be as efficient as possible, while the added demands of exploration means platforms are becoming more sophisticated than ever before. The scope of technologies and machinery on board a rig is growing. So too are the environments in which power will need to be supplied. Across a rig, power plugs will be needed in hazardous and non hazardous environments. They will need to be able to cope with wet connection, withstand salt water corrosion, severe impact, wide temperature fluctuations and provide a lengthy service life. On top of that they will be asked to push the envelope further and further in terms of their electrical performance. Devices are becoming lighter and more compact; they are being constructed from materials which aid conductivity and increase the efficiency of energy conversion. Every incremental improvement they manage in this regard leads to far wider efficiency savings across the entire operation of the oil rig.

t

Up to 680A, 1000V

t

Mechanical/Electrical Interlock

Evolution of Materials The materials with which conventional plugs have been constructed often make them inadequate for extreme environments. Brass

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NEXT GENERATION PLUGS AND RECEPTACLES FOR OFFSHORE ELECTRIC EQUIPMENT APPLICATIONS

Although more expensive to manufacture, silver/ nickel alloys recoup expense by offering higher corrosion resistance, reduced wear and a longer life expectancy than the conventional plugs they are replacing pins are vulnerable to wear from salt water and other corrosive environments, while they will not necessarily be able to withstand the most extreme temperatures and pressures commonly found in ultra-deep water environments. Conventional brass (copper and zinc) alloys may be easy to manufacture and cheap to produce, but they oxidize at ambient temperature and with even just a little moisture in the air. Add in the salt within seawater and other corrosive elements, and you have a material which is not built to last in hazardous, offshore environments. The alternative technology is to make use of silver/nickel alloys. Although more expensive to manufacture, silver/nickel alloys recoup expense by offering higher corrosion resistance, reduced wear and a longer life expectancy than the conventional plugs they are replacing. This reduces the amount of time spent replacing components which brings operational costs down. Not only is the necessity for spare parts reduced, but also the time and productivity loss incurred through replacing plugs and connectors. Nickel exhibits a number of critical operational benefits over and above brass. It will only weld in the highest of temperatures and pressures, it is extremely resistant to corrosive elements and it will not wear as rapidly as previous products. As a technology, therefore, it is highly suitable for the demanding environment of an offshore drilling rig. It is more durable, cheaper to run and will last for much longer than earlier components.

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Everyday Use Few environments are as tough and demanding as deep water offshore platforms. All products will need to factor in a consideration for how they will be used in the day to day environment. The ability for both trained and untrained personnel to safely disconnect the system is important in ensuring safety and timely maintenance. Products are being made which are simpler and easier use. Those which require a complicated process in order to be safe will be vulnerable to poor practices and mistakes by operating crew. These can mean their true life operational effectiveness is somewhat lower than their official rating. Flexibility is also crucial with multiple operations presenting different requirements. Plugs and receptacles which can be used for a range of applications have a considerable competitive advantage. To survive the rough and tumble of daily life on board rigs, components need to be housed within robust casings offering protection to impact damage, heat, corrosion and other elements. They will need to be explosion proof with the ability to maintain function when needed during emergencies and to be safely disconnected. The challenges of deep water go far beyond the capabilities of many traditional power plugs. Today’s latest generation featuring spring loaded butt-style contacts, easy-use plug and play options and other advanced features produce benefits across the entire scope of a rig’s operation.


NEXT GENERATION PLUGS AND RECEPTACLES FOR OFFSHORE ELECTRIC EQUIPMENT APPLICATIONS

How Oil and Gas Companies Can Ensure a Safe, Long Lasting Power Supply

Switch-Rated Plugs & Receptacles

Jo Roth, Staff Writer How an understanding of the available market and the unique challenges

DECONTACTOR™ Series

of an installation can help oil and gas companies secure the right solution for their requirements.

A

LL OFFSHORE oil and gas installations need a safe and reliable source of power. The trouble is, few environments present as many hazards. The presence of flammable hydrocarbons, corrosive substances, bad weather, rough seas, high pressure and extreme fluctuations in temperatures make this one of the most challenging environments for infrastructure. Connectors are increasingly important in maintaining the integrity of the power supply. Although they may be small in size, their role is incredibly important. Developers are producing a new range of high quality and innovative products to address the challenges of modern day oil exploration. The trouble is there is no one-size fits all application. With multiple suppliers, producing innovations making different claims the big question is how can operators give themselves the best chance of finding the best solution for their needs? In this article, we’ll show you some of the prime considerations you should be taking into account and how the technology is evolving to suit your needs.

Safety The number one priority for all installations is safety. Electrical systems will need to offer safe and quick disconnect if and when needed. Equally, they will have to be able to maintain continual supply even in the bumps and strains of daily conditions on board an oil rig. Buyers should look for devices which offer a safety shutter at the front. This closes over the receptacle contacts before it can be removed, reducing the threat of issues such as arcing. Workers will have no access to any of the live parts of a plug until it is safely replaced.

The Deep Water Horizon disaster prompted a reassessment of safety across the offshore operation. Electrical connectors are not immune and are required to adhere to a new and growing range of certifications and regulatory requirements. These include products which have IECEx standards certification and conform to EU Directive ATEX 137, relating to components used in explosive environments. Products will also need to be rated to withstand all conditions to which they will be subjected, such as high or low temperatures and offer impact resistance. Measures are also needed to ensure safe disconnect in the event of emergency. Products need to offer line of sight disconnection – in other words that the point of disconnect is always in line of sight of an engineer or operator. This removes the threat of a plug being disconnected by mistake while work is being carried out.

Robust Products The next generation of connectors must be robust enough to withstand the tough environments in which they are working. They will have to be able to withstand movement, impact, corrosive substances and wide temperature ranges to ensure a continued secure power supply around the rig in all situations. Connectors will need to be working in a range of different conditions and temperatures. The latest products are being rated to cope with conditions as wide apart as -40°C and +60°C. As oil drilling extends further and further from the shore into more remote environments, it is becoming increasingly important for all devices to offer a longer working life. They will need to be able to function with minimal need for replacement

“OFF” Button

UL & CSA Switch-Rated t

Up to 75hp & 200A

t

Type 4X

t

Poly or Metal

for non-hazardous environments

A company of MARECHAL ELECTRIC GROUP

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NEXT GENERATION PLUGS AND RECEPTACLES FOR OFFSHORE ELECTRIC EQUIPMENT APPLICATIONS

Developers are producing a new range of high quality and innovative products to address the challenges of modern day oil exploration

and maintenance. Some of the latest products include silver-nickel spring loaded contacts which ensure excellent conductivity over many years. Life expectancy can also be increased by switching to contactless plug systems. These remove friction as a factor which, in turn, can reduce wear and tear.

Experience of Providers Conditions on board rigs are highly changeable, with each platform presenting its own unique range of challenges and difficulties. While a rig operating off the shore of Africa might have to deal with extreme temperatures and rough seas, a platform in the Gulf of Mexico might have to cope with the annual terrors of the hurricane season. Rigs planned in the Artic, meanwhile, will have to maintain operation to the lowest temperatures. All will have to be explosion-proof and impactresistant maintaining a steady supply of power no matter what problems get thrown at them. Because of these individual challenges, an effective two-way conversation between supplier and end-user will be vital. The leading operators have engineers who work closely in the design and installation of connectors to ensure that they are suitable for the multiple functions of the rig. Experience is crucial. The offshore environment is a world of constant evolution and development. Throughout its history the offshore drilling industry has encountered numerous problems and challenges – and evolved its own technology to meet them. For example, as oil became

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rarer, technologies were developed to tap new regions and improve productivity of existing areas. As this, in turn, created problems in terms of increased depths and extreme environments, the technology evolved to suit. Because of this, the industry has benefited from decades of lessons learned. Every problem and mistake adds to the experience. The more comprehensive a supplier’s experience and the closer their relationship with the oil and gas market, the more probable it is that they will be able to produce devices to address the challenges an offshore environment is likely to face. Deciding between the available products is therefore a challenging balancing act for oil and gas companies. It requires a needsassessment in which they can look at the different environments on board a rig, the different tasks they will need to complete and the challenges posed by the environment. Switches will need to be used in many different areas of the rig including generators, mud systems, pumps, corridors and elsewhere. Each of these will offer a range of associated challenges which must be anticipated and planned for. In addition to this, new devices will, in theory, offer an improvement on existing infrastructure in place. Before making a buying decision, operators need to find ways of quantitatively assessing that improvement and deciding whether or not it represents value for money – whether that’s in terms of safety, maintenance reduction or improved endurance.


NEXT GENERATION PLUGS AND RECEPTACLES FOR OFFSHORE ELECTRIC EQUIPMENT APPLICATIONS

The Future of Electrical Power Connectors in Offshore Environments

Hazardous Location Plugs & Receptacles

Tom Cropper, Editor How the challenge of delivering power to oil platforms could be changing over the next few decades.

E

VER SINCE offshore oil wells first appeared at the beginning of the last century the industry has been in a constant state of evolution. The changing nature of offshore drilling and new challenges have seen a steady increase in the adoption of the new technologies. Each and every accident has also led to learnings and improvements in technology across the rig. Power plug technology is no dif ferent and today manufacturers are looking back to see how existing technology can be improved, and forward to see what the challenges might look like in the future. Wider developments within the oil and gas market will shape the way power will be supplied to offshore oil and gas installations.

At the Crossroads The offshore market stands at a crossroads. The ocean contains billions of barrels of unclaimed oil but accessing it is more difficult than ever before. The age of easy-oil is coming to an end as existing oil fields become depleted. The challenge now is to extend the life of existing fields through enhanced oil recovery techniques, while also finding ways to tap reserves far out in the uncharted depths in regions which have hitherto been considered inaccessible. This, in its turn, creates challenges and opportunities for manufacturers of power plugs and connectors. First the opportunities; as existing rigs push on far beyond their existing life expectancy infrastructure is becoming worn and in need of replacement. Out of date connectors feature excessive wear rates when compared to the latest advanced products, while changes in the regulatory framework mean many are no longer rated to survive in the environments in which they work. The result is that, all over the world

there is the potential for new contracts to appear overhauling existing out of date systems. An example of the work being done can be seen in Oklahoma where Saber Industries has been busy incorporating new systems for its rigs. Although these are on land, they do represent the challenges facing the oil industry and the capabilities of new technology. The company often moves its rigs from one site to another. Doing this necessitates the complete disconnection and reconnection of equipment such as heaters, washers, lights and motors among others. With rigs moving every few weeks, finding ways to expedite the process has become an important operational consideration. The existing systems are also increasingly showing themselves to be not fit for service. Numerous rigs use conventional metal pin and sleeve connectors. Due to the frequency of movement, rigs are being washed down frequently. Hot water, at pressure has a corrosive impact on the pins with the result that they become an increasing health hazard. The solution showcases two of the most dominant current trends in the market at present. The product, supplied by Meltric Corporation, which specializes in hazardous environment connectors, utilizes a springloaded silver-nickel butt contact which has the dual effect of producing superior electrical performance and significant improvements in wear. The silver nickel plating of the contact butts is increasingly becoming a replacement for traditional brass pins. They offer more wear and are less likely to corrode in the presence of water. In this instance, it is crucial in an environment featuring frequent wash-downs and it can also prove important in offshore environments where salt spray from the sea and other corrosive elements can lead to premature failure of components.

DXN Series

t

20 to 60 Amps

t

Horsepower rated

t

CSA Listed

t

Zones 1 and 2

t

Class 1 Div 2

A company of MARECHAL ELECTRIC GROUP

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NEXT GENERATION PLUGS AND RECEPTACLES FOR OFFSHORE ELECTRIC EQUIPMENT APPLICATIONS

Wider developments within the oil and gas market will shape the way power will be supplied to offshore oil and gas installations

Additionally, the device also comes in a solid casing which highlights the robust nature of today’s most advanced technologies. The casing proved its worth when the device was lost between two trucks as Assistant Drilling Supervisor, Joe Morgan explains. “The plug was caught between them,” he says. “When the truck pulled away, the housing flexed back to its original shape, and we were able to continue using it until we got a replacement.”

Moving to the Future As for the future, the direction of technologies depends very much on the challenges presented by the offshore environment and the shape of other innovations. For example, as oil companies seek to reduce their carbon footprint and energy consumption costs, they are finding new ways to increase their use of renewable energies. Wind turbines and solar panels on board rigs can be used to deliver clean electrical energy free of charge. Another interesting innovation comes in the shape of a power buoy deployed by Ocean Power Technologies9. This, says the company, is targeted to be ready later in 2015 and aims to derive power from the movement of the waves and connect with floating offshore oil platforms. This provides an alternative power supply to batteries or diesel generators on board the rig. Reducing the reliance on generators not only saves costs, but if space can be saved, offers further cost-efficiency improvements. Contacting with such systems will require products of the highest water resistance, able to function despite submersion in the ocean.

14 | WWW.OFFSHORETECHNOLOGYREPORTS.COM

The direction of the market will also shape the size and nature of offshore rigs in the future. A combination of reduced oil price and the fact that oil increasingly exists in small pockets considered uneconomical by the largest oil giants, could potentially lead to an increase in unmanned platforms. According to Offshoreprice.com the average wage for oil workers is $50,000 per annum. The personnel costs for an oil rig currently amount to $5-$10 million a year10. In an environment in which the global oil price has more than halved over the last 12 months, reducing that figure is becoming more important. As a result, ideas which would have previously been considered beyond consideration such as using small unmanned oil platforms are beginning to gain traction. If, as the article suggests, the future of offshore oil is unmanned, this implies a number of associated developments. For power plugs and connectors, the need to deliver useful long term service will be even higher than it is now, as maintenance requires dispatching a crew to the rig. All these possible developments can weigh on the mind of developers as they plan the direction of products for the future. For now, though, the focus is on developing products which conform to the latest certification requirements and do their job better. This means further developments in contact technology to increase durability and electrical efficiency. Every incremental gain can be important in delivering a reliable and profitable offshore drilling project.


NEXT GENERATION PLUGS AND RECEPTACLES FOR OFFSHORE ELECTRIC EQUIPMENT APPLICATIONS

References: 1

US Oil Production Growth in 2014 was Largest in 100 Years: http://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.cfm?id=20572 Shell Cuts Jobs in North Sea:

2

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/energy/oilandgas/11496273/Shell-cuts-jobs-in-North-Sea-as-low-oil-price-hits-Aberdeen.html 3

Oil Extends Losses: http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/business/oil-extends-losses-as/2126870.html

4

Bad timing? Chevron Christens new $8bn Platform:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/christopherhelman/2014/12/02/bad-timing-chevron-christens-new-8b-deepwater-oil-platform/ 5

BP commences Oil Production from Valhall: http://www.offshore-technology.com/news/newsbp-oil-production-valhall-field-offshore-norway-north-sea

6

New Frontiers: http://blogs.platts.com/2014/12/01/mexico-gulf-opening/

7

Arctic Oil Exploration: Potential Riches and Problems: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-14728856

8

Is North Sea Oil Finished? https://wealth.barclays.com/en_gb/smartinvestor/investing-ideas/is-north-sea-oil-finished-.html

9

10

Ocean Power Technologies Successfully Deploys Power Buoy: http://www.marketwatch.com/story/ocean-power-technologies-successfully-deploys-apb350-powerbuoy-off-the-coast-of-atlantic-city-new-jersey-2015-09-08 The Future of Offshore Drilling Could be Unmanned:

http://oilprice.com/Energy/Energy-General/The-Future-Of-Offshore-Drilling-Could-Be-Unmanned.html

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Offshore Technology Report – Next Generation Plugs & Receptacles – Offshore Electric Equipment Apps  

Defence Industry – Special Report on Next Generation Plugs and Receptacles for Offshore Electric Equipment Applications

Offshore Technology Report – Next Generation Plugs & Receptacles – Offshore Electric Equipment Apps  

Defence Industry – Special Report on Next Generation Plugs and Receptacles for Offshore Electric Equipment Applications