OTC 11868 Design, Testing and Installation of the Gemini Umbilical

PE Norris/Texaco Inc.

Copyright 2000, Offshore Technology Conference This paper was prepared for presentation at the 2000 Offshore Technology Conference held in Houston, Texas, 1–4 May 2000. This paper was selected for presentation by the OTC Program Committee following review of information contained in an abstract submitted by the author(s). Contents of the paper, as presented, have not been reviewed by the Offshore Technology Conference and are subject to correction by the author(s). The material, as presented, does not necessarily reflect any position of the Offshore Technology Conference or its officers. Electronic reproduction, distribution, or storage of any part of this paper for commercial purposes without the written consent of the Offshore Technology Conference is prohibited. Permission to reproduce in print is restricted to an abstract of not more than 300 words; illustrations may not be copied. The abstract must contain conspicuous acknowledgment of where and by whom the paper was presented.

inadequately covered by existing specifications, namely: (1) Installation loads and their effect on wall thickness for deepwater installations (2) ASTM G48A testing on super duplex welds A description of the method adopted for the guidelineless deep to shallow installation of the umbilical with an attendant drilling rig is also described. Deepwater installation design The general method adopted to determine wall thickness for umbilical tubes is based on ASME B31.3 chapter IX and ASME A789. Umbilical tube stresses should then be checked for installation loads when the construction will be subjected to: (1) Tensile stress from umbilical tension (2) Hoop stress from internal pressure (3) Bending stress from the squeeze effect of a tensioned helix (4) Bending stress from umbilical bending over the deployment structure (e.g. wheel) The bending forces induced over a laying wheel and from caterpillar clamping force are very difficult to determine analytically. No satisfactory design methodology exists. The approach taken on Gemini was to perform a verification test on the completed umbilical. Although this establishes confidence, the test occurs at very late stage in the project and a failure at this stage would have resulted in delayed production. It is essential in the early design phase to develop conservative methodology to confirm that installation forces are not the determining factor for wall thickness. As water depth increases, tensile stresses increase proportionally. These stresses need to be combined with the stresses outlined above and compared against the yield stress of the tube material. For the Gemini design, it was determined that lay force over the wheel was the determining factor governing wall thickness for certain tube elements in the umbilical. The analytical method will be briefly described primarily to illustrate the approximations involved and to suggest that a more sophisticated approach is warranted. The conclusions are:

Abstract At the time of installation, the Gemini umbilical at 28.1 miles was the longest umbilical containing both electrical and hydraulic elements. A super duplex tube construction was selected. The importance of adequate and comprehensive quality control of the tube strings and the installation stresses in deepwater are emphasized. Introduction The reliability of thermoplastic umbilical has been under scrutiny for a least a decade. In 1990 a report was issued in the UK entitled Umbilical Performance and Reliability following an initiative two years earlier by number of major operators in the North Sea. The development of steel tube umbilicals provided an alternative construction. As installed water depths increased, the attraction of steel tubes increased due to their superior collapse resistance. In addition, the methanol “permeability” problem (the transport mechanism involves permeability and diffusion) is eliminated. Steel tube construction presents a new and different set of challenges to ensure a reliable product. At the time of the Gemini project initiation in January of 1998, industry standards in the form of API 17E and API 17I were predominantly concerned with thermoplastic construction. Super duplex steel tube construction was experiencing major problems by a number of different operators. However the excellent mechanical and corrosion resistant properties of super duplex led the Gemini project team to specify this type of construction. In April of 1999 the Gemini umbilical installation was successfully completed in water depths ranging from 3400 to 300 feet. This paper focuses on two aspects associated with the design, testing and installation of the project, which for the purposes of umbilical tube manufacture are currently



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(1) Installation forces must be considered and can govern wall thicknesses for deepwater installations. (2) The Gemini tubes had an extrusion of polyethylene. This coating is beneficial in providing compliance so that the loads are more evenly distributed than is assumed analytically. The distribution of the tensile load between the tubes and armoring is assumed to be distributed according to axial stiffness. The lay wheel force distribution F is given by

20X magnification and weight loss not to exceed 4.0g/m. Unfortunately the further test samples also failed the first criteria despite the successful WPQ. Extensive variational tests were performed for the following attributes of the welding procedure to determine if the cause of the failure could be ascertained: (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) Downslope length (time) Downslope speed Post purge delay time Filler wire Temperature at which corrosion takes place Not cleaning (wire abrasion of the welds)


2P D

Where: F = Lay wheel force distribution (Newtons/meter) P = Installation Tension ( Newtons) D = Lay wheel diameter (meters) The force per tube is given by

f =


It had been the experience of the primary contractor that cleaning the welds was not necessary to pass the G48A test. However for the weld procedure adopted it was clearly demonstrated that abrasive cleaning of the welds was beneficial in avoiding pitting corrosion caused by the G48A test. During the course of production in excess of 300 G48A tests were performed, With the following conclusions: (1) G48A pass criteria with abrasive cleaning was 98% (2) The failure rate as evidenced by pitting corrosion appeared to be dependent on the surface quality. This is consistent with other work where a brushed and pickled finish was shown superior to the as-welded condition From an operators perspective this failure rate was unacceptable. It also demonstrates that although a successful WPQ was achieved, the required quality in the umbilical could not be met. It should be noted that pitting corrosion of this nature could lead to a rapid failure of the weld because rapid pit growth is possible. The relevance of the G48A test to actual seawater conditions is often questioned. The similarities are that both the ferric chloride solution and seawater are chloride solutions. Also the redox potential is approximately the same. The redox potential in seawater is controlled by the oxygen content and temperature and might be 350 to 450 mV for a high alloy stainless steel. For the test, the redox potential is 600-700 mV. Major differences are the pH, the presence of ferric ions and the chloride ion content. In the opinion of the author, the test is conservative and passing the test provides the assurance of satisfactory performance in seawater. A temperature of 40°C was used for the G48A test. This temperature, although approaching the critical value for welds in this material, is still at a level where it is reasonable to expect all welds to pass without pitting, especially when reduced test duration is considered. Fundamentally the confidence level that is desired cannot be realized because of the statistical nature of the failure. The solution to this problem, which Gemini adopted, was to sheathe the tubes in a polyethylene extrusion to provide a complete seawater block. Even if this extrusion is damaged in the vicinity of a weld, crevice corrosion of the base material

Where: f = force per load bearing element per meter N = number of load bearing elements per meter


0.318 fr 1/ 6t b

Where: σ = wall stress (M Pa) B = tube virtual contact length (mm) T = tube wall thickness (mm) Many of the assumptions implicit in this derivation are common to beam theory and the final formula contains the unsatisfactory inclusion of the virtual contact length. Nevertheless this is believed to be the best derivation from an analytical standpoint and appropriate “safety factors” can be included in the comparison with material yield strength

ASTM G48A testing In a 28.1 mile umbilical with 14 tubes, there are in excess of 50,000 butt welds. A rigorous quality control procedure is essential, as even one weld failure is unacceptable. Welds are produced using TIG root runs with suitable fillers and arc energies. Corrosion tests are performed throughout as part of the weld qualification (WPQ) and subsequently during the manufacturing runs. All pre-production weld samples passed corrosion and micro examination tests. Production testing began on a relatively infrequent basis. According to the procedure which is generally adopted, if a weld fails a G48A test another weld is taken (which was produced at the same time) and if this one were to successfully pass, production would continue. The criteria for passing a G48A test is not specified by ASTM. The pass criteria in this case was no visible pitting at

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was considered extremely unlikely due to the rate of oxygen diffusion. The use of a polyethylene extrusion is typical in dynamic umbilical applications. As noted previously the sheathing also has benefit in distributing installation stresses. Gemini Installation The design of the umbilical termination assembly (UTA) incorporates a skirted template member (mudskirt) and is connected to the subsea trees via flying leads. The flying leads are contained in baskets attached to the UTA. The design facilitates a guidelineless installation. The positioning of the UTA is critical and dictated a deep to shallow installation sequence. The umbilical was installed with the drilling rig on location. Figures 1-6 depict the installation sequence: • Drill rig lowering wire is keeled hauled underneath the pontoon and secured on rig deck ready for transfer to C/S Skagerrak. Transfer the drilling rig lowering wire to the C/S Skagerrak for attachment to the UTA. See Fig. 1. • • Lift UTA from vessel deck with the vessel winch wire through the A frame and tilt A frame. See Fig. 2. Commence coordinated lowering of the UTA by paying out on the umbilical and the center winch wire until UTA is in seawater. See Fig. 3. Continue coordinated lowering of the UTA by paying out the umbilical., center winch wire and rig winch until UTA is at approx. 500 feet water depth and stop rig winch wire. Resume coordinated lowering of the UTA and transfer all the weight of the UTA to the lowering winch wire Disengage center winch wire from the UTA by ROV cutting the wire. See Fig. 4. • • Lower UTA to 50 feet above seabed. See Fig. 5. Confirm coordinates and land UTA on Commence normal umbilical lying. See Fig. 6. seabed.

Conclusions (1) Installation stresses can dictate umbilical tube wall thickness. (2) ASTM 48A corrosion test results can be dependent on the surface finish of the weld. References
1. Formulas for Stress and Strain Roark and Young McGraw Hill (1975)



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