First Subsea Drives Deepwater Connector Innovation

The UK's leading supplier of subsea connection systems, BSW Ltd, is now called First Subsea Ltd, reflecting the company's growing role as an innovator in subsea connection and mooring systems for deepwater platforms, FPSOs, subsea field buoy, pipeline and turret architectures and marine energy.

The first company to develop and deploy ball and taper-based mooring technology, First Subsea's Ballgrab connector has been used in over 200 subsea mooring installations worldwide. As demand for flexible connection and tethering devices has increased, the company has led the field with the development of innovative solutions. Ballgrabs were used on the first polymer rope mooring system to tether a drilling platform in 6,000 feet water depth, the BP Ocean Confidence program.

The first Ballgrab with an integrated camera has been developed for use in FPSO and STP buoy production operations, providing easy retrieval of the buoys without ROVs. The first ball and taper, diverless bend stiffener connector, was developed in collaboration with Trelleborg Offshore, using a Ballgrab male connector to support umbilicals and cabling in existing risers. Recently a Ballgrab connector allowed the first use of a disconnect-able driven pile subsea mooring system for a mid-water arch, creating more flexible deepwater production facilities and subsea architectures.

General Manager Brian Green points to the increasing sophistication of the subsea connector market as a key factor behind the announcement of 'First Subsea.' "Connector and mooring systems are evolving. Getting the fundamentals right of delivering a reliable and easy to install connector and mooring system is just the starting point. Now it's how the connector can take a more active role in production operations. First Subsea marks the coming-of-age of the Ballgrab connector. Our aim is to continue to lead the subsea connector and mooring markets through innovation underpinned by a commitment to quality management at every level from design to commissioning," he said.

First Subsea connection systems are currently used for buoy moorings to FPSOs and deep water SPAR buoys diver-less bend stiffener connectors, pipeline recovery tools, and production risers including SCRs. New markets include marine energy moorings and handling solutions for wind, wave and tidal devices.

Designed and tested in accordance with certifying authority standards, Ballgrabs are available in a range of sizes up to 2,500mT MBL. Recent projects include BP's Mad Dog SPAR, Ocean Confidence Drilling Program and Thunder Horse PLET Tie-back systems, ExxonMobil's Erha and Kizomba Drilling programs, Kerr McGee's Constitution, Gunnison and Red Hawk SPARs, Murphy's Kikeh and Thunder Hawk projects, Total's Dalia and Akpo projects, Nexen U.K.'s Ettrick and Shell's Perdido development.

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