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Subsea-Fiber Wet-Mate Connectors Require Careful Design To Balance Cost, Performance

Topics: Subsea systems
Fig. 1—Operating inside a Class 5 clean room.

As the hunger for data grows, long stepouts become more common, and fiber communication becomes standard, the use of fiber in subsea oil and gas fields is set to increase. While optical loss along fiber itself is low and data-collection possibilities are high, these applications will only be fully realized if wet-mate fiber connectors can achieve high optical performance consistently. Excellent results are achieved with compact design, a modular approach, and an emphasis on cleanliness.

Introduction

Wet-mate fiber connectors have been on the market for years and are used increasingly in the subsea oil and gas industry. While they have been moderately successful, the technical challenges should not be underestimated. Industry specifications demand high levels of optical performance and extensive qualification programs. The balance between performance and cost of the finished product has always been difficult to achieve.

Subsea fields are seeing longer stepouts, which are suited to using fiber as the key communication network. Furthermore, the subsea industry is seeing an ongoing drive to use fiber sensors in downhole systems (e.g., distributed temperature sensing), allowing greater amounts of data to be transmitted topside. Other applications such as direct-current and fiber-optic distribution and pipe-in-pipe heating are also emerging. For reasons of flexibility and practicality, the wet-mate fiber connector plays an important role in all of these.

This article, written by Special Publications Editor Adam Wilson, contains highlights of paper OTC 27987, “Subsea-Fiber Wet-Mate Connectors: Achieving the Balance Between Consistent Optical Performance, Product Cost, and Compact Size,” by Elaine Saxton and Helyson Parente, SPE, Siemens Subsea, prepared for the 2017 Offshore Technology Conference Brasil, Rio de Janeiro, 24–26 October. The paper has not been peer reviewed. Copyright 2017 Offshore Technology Conference. Reproduced by permission.
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Subsea-Fiber Wet-Mate Connectors Require Careful Design To Balance Cost, Performance

01 August 2018

Volume: 70 | Issue: 8

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