Engaging with the subsea industry

Pat Oakley, Umbilical Manufacturers Federation

June 1, 2017

Pat Oakley, of the Umbilical Manufacturers Federation, highlights initiatives brought forth from a recent workshop with operators.

Umbilicals are an essential and critical link in subsea production systems. Over the past three decades’ umbilical designs have increased in complexity and functionality, with products being installed around the world, and in depths of up to 3000m.

It is therefore important with the developing trend to deeper waters, higher pressures, longer tieback distances, and with subsea production moving into increasingly hostile environments that the technical aspects of this sophisticated product are well understood by subsea system designers, manufacturers, installers and end users.

To facilitate this knowledge transfer the Umbilical Manufacturers’ Federation (UMF) continually seeks to engage with the industry by means of workshops, JIPs, and the publication of technical guidance notes addressing issues not covered by existing standards

The UMF maintains close dialogue with oil and gas operators in order to explore how the reliability and functionality of umbilical systems can be maintained and improved upon. During a UMF workshop with major international operators including BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips ExxonMobil, Shell and Statoil, their experience in the use of umbilicals and future design trends were explored. Several issues were identified from these discussions giving rise to various UMF initiatives.

UMF guidance notes and annual statistics on control umbilical supply volumes are free, and can be downloaded from the organization’s website: www.umf.as/downloads

The UMF’s current initiatives include generation of a further guidance note on umbilical impact testing in order to address gaps in this topic in international standards. Also a technical note is under preparation on umbilical installation tensioner guidance and pad design. Both documents will be freely available from the UMF website in due course.


  Operator Concern UMF Initiative

Existing umbilical standards may be inadequate

The UMF has closely engaged with API regarding the forthcoming revision of the API 17E subsea umbilical specification. The UMF technical committee has made several submissions to API aimed at improving the range and quality of the standard. The UMF continue to seek opportunities to improve the scope and relevance of umbilical specifications including a new revision of its GN03 guidance note on super duplex tubing.  

UTA electrical termination component reliability and design life

The UMF is currently conducting a review of current industry JIP activity aimed at subsea low voltage terminations and connectors. Consideration is being given to a UMF sponsored JIP on this topic.

Scope for improvement in definition of umbilical installation parameters

Umbilical installation is a technically complex operation and it is important that the key characteristics of the product are communicated between the manufacturer and installer. After considerable dialogue with major installers the UMF generated a standard template to facilitate this information exchange. The template in the form of a guidance note (UMF GN07), identifies key umbilical data to be provided. This includes product data such as dimensions and weight in air and water, plus a wide range of handling characteristics. 

Need for definition of responsibilities during umbilical load-out

The handover of product from the manufacturer to the installer takes place at the load-out stage when the umbilical is transferred from the production facility to the installation vessel. The UMF developed a guidance note (UMF GN05) on the subject which defines the typical respective considerations of both the manufacturer and installer in respect of load-out, development of the installation procedure(s) and manufacturer support to installer during load-out, installation and commissioning of the umbilical system. 

Need for guidance on short- and long-term storage of umbilical products

When there is to be a period between completion of umbilical manufacture and installation the umbilical may be stored on a reel or carousel. It is important that appropriate storage conditions are in place and that the umbilical is tested at the end of the period to ensure it remains in optimal condition for installation. To address this issue UMF issued a guidance note (UMF GN06) recommending conditions and test parameters for both short term (<6months) and long term storage.

Need for guidance on umbilical fluid conduit blockage prevention and remediation

The UMF has previously initiated the launch of an industry JIP on this subject known as BASICS (Blockage Avoidance in Subsea Injection and Control Systems (basics-jip.com). The JIP has resulted in two API publications API 17TR5 and API 17TR6 covering the design of subsea systems to prevent blockages and the specification and handling of chemicals for use in such systems.