Offshore Technology/Hoses Process Equipment Goes Offshore: Helping Deepwater Oil Exploration

Editor: Dominik Stephan

Eaton has developed a hose that would help the exploration of oil hidden beneath the surface of the water. These hoses undergo various rigorous tests in order to efficiently work in challenging scenarios. Read on to know more about the products that the company provides to work in the high-pressure environments.

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To enable deepwater exploration, equipment and instruments play an important role
To enable deepwater exploration, equipment and instruments play an important role
(Picture: Eaton India)

Though deepwater oil exploration is the need of an hour, it is a challenging task to perform. For example off the coast of Brazil where one of the largest oil reserves in the world is buried in

a ‘pre-salt’ geological layer beneath miles of water and rock. If the oil is successfully explored and brought to the surface, Brazil will meet its aggressive goal of tripling its oil production— from approximately 2 million barrels a day to 6 million barrels a day— before the end of the decade. However, to achieve this, advanced equipment and instruments such as hoses are required.

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Prior to 2010, subsea tree manufacturers typically relied on hose sources outside Brazil to bundle hose and build Hydraulic Flying Leads (HFLs). However, in 2011, when the manufacturers were required to adhere to the Brazilian government’s new local content regulations, Eaton approached few subsea trees manufacturers.

Working Together with Partners from the Offshore Industry

“Eaton got in touch with the tree manufacturers at just the right time,” said Sales Manager, Eaton—South American Headquarters, Pedro Cortonesi. “Since they were looking for a local hose partner to help them meet Brazilian content requirements, we explained that although Synflex hose is made at Eaton’s hose manufacturing facility in Aurora, Ohio, it is shipped to the company’s Guaratinguetá

facility. There, we add local content by cutting individual hoses to precise lengths, attaching corrosion-resistant stainless steel end connectors, wrapping the hoses into bundles and flushing and testing the completed bundles.”

How to make Equipment Offshore–Ready

In order to install the hose in the Brazilian pre-salt conditions, Eaton’s first mission was to emphasize on the solid performance and reliability of the Synflex hose. “Reliability is absolutely monumental for the hose that is installed under as much as 8,200 ft of water. Making it difficult and expensive to repair, in addition to the fact that hose failure can literally shut down a drilling operation, reliability plays very important role. Because of the many challenges and large scale investment involved in deep sea drilling, hydraulic hose must last for a minimum of 20 years. We explained how the company’s Synflex hose is made to endure long-term subsea duty in ultra-deep water, thereby helping to ensure uptime and keep project timelines on track,” stressed Cortonesi.

“Still, we had a lot of work to do in order to obtain the hose business. The customers wanted to be assured that Eaton knows the demands—that each hose must be engineered to order, undergo rigorous testing and be delivered within a four- to six-week time frame with no excuses,” he Source: Eaton India further explained.

To reinforce the company’s strength in providing customized hose solutions, Eaton engineers met with the wet tree manufacturers to present their approach to each project. This included close interaction with the customer and in-depth analysis of tree configurations and hose requirements.

Knowing that proof-testing is mission critical in the supply of subsea hose—so critical that it must be witnessed by a customer-appointed inspector—engineers invited customer personnel to tour Eaton’s in-house testing operations in Guaratinguetá, where the application worthiness of each completed Synflex HCR hose assembly is verified.

Under the Surface: What Christmas Tree Have to Do with Offshore–Oil

The company manufactures Synflex high crush resistant (HCR) high-pressure hose, which was developed in response to increasing demand for oil drilling rig equipment that is almost fail-proof at extreme subsea depths. The company’s hydraulics facility in Guaratinguetá, Brazil, supports local exploration and development of pre-salt wells by providing HCR thermoplastic collapse-proof hose for subsea trees produced by leading oil and gas equipment manufacturers.

The subsea trees, often called Christmas trees because of their rudimentary resemblance to decorated holiday trees, control the flow of oil out of a well. Synflex HCR hose, which is part of HFLs that connect manifold blocks to subsea trees, takes hose construction and functionality to a whole new level. Each HFL is actually a bundle of individual HCR hoses that vary in quantity according to project requirements.

Extreme Environments Demand Extreme Measures

The hose’s flexible 316 stainless steel inner-locking carcass withstands over 5,000 psi differential pressure and up to 7,500 psi working pressure—extreme forces that are commonplace in ultra-deep water exploration. HCR hose is supplied in extremely long continuous lengths to the customers’ requirements, which can be over 10,000 ft.

“In this business in which hose assemblies can be thousands of feet long, there is no such thing as prototypes. So each hose must undergo rigorous testing to API-17 standards and tested way beyond its performance limits to ensure it will function on the job. We demonstrated how each Eaton subsea hose is subjected to pounding vibration, rough abrasion, high operating pressures, and more through vigorous around-the-clock testing,” Cortonesi stated.

Providing the Right Hose to Extract Oil from Difficult Conditions

Thanks to the high-quality hose and strict adherence to industry protocol that the company offered to the subsea tree manufacturers, the company was awarded with various such contracts. “Our customers are pleased with the performance of Synflex hose and that Eaton is helping them achieve their Brazilian content goals. In turn, their business is helping Eaton become a major player in the oil and gas market, particularly here in Brazil, which has the potential to become one of the largest oil producers in the world,” concluded Cortonesi.

* First published in PROCESS India, August 2014

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