Tronic Delivers New Connector for Rhum

Tronic Ltd, a subsidiary of oilfield services provider Expro International Group PLC, has been commissioned by Cooper Cameron UK to create a specially designed high temperature horizontal electrical feedthrough subsea connector, which will enable BP to exploit the gas reservoir on its Rhum Field in the UK North Sea, 240 miles north-east of Aberdeen.

At 1.1 trillion cubic feet (31 billion cubic meters) of gas, with 800 billion cubic feet (23 billion cubic meters) deemed recoverable, Rhum, which was discovered in 1977, is believed to have the largest undeveloped gas field in the UK. However, the gas condensate reservoir is subject to extremely high temperatures and pressures, which had previously made it inaccessible.

A recent product development program at Tronic, which focused on high reliability performance in demanding environments, has resulted in the ElecTRON ™ range of instrumentation connectors. These were upgraded to endure the in-well conditions of 140ƒC temperatures and 15,000 psi pressures found in Rhum¹s gas reservoir. (The previous maximum temperature that a feedthrough connector could withstand was 135ƒC, which was assessed as insufficient for this project). Tronic has previously supplied horizontal systems for West Africa and vertical systems for BP Thunder Horse in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico, which provided the basis for the new design.

On the Rhum project, new thermoplastic materials and sealing techniques had to be identified and deployed in the connector, while field proven sealing techniques were also modified to provide a barrier against the gas.

This type of feedthrough connector is positioned within the Horizontal tree system and enables monitoring and gauging of gas at high temperatures and pressures. As part of the well communication system, it allows data to be relayed from the reservoir to the platform. Without this essential component, optimum production rates could not be calculated.

Tronic business manager Colin MacKenzie said: "Our new feedthrough connector pushes the boundaries of technology in this sector and opens the door to applications in deepwater locations elsewhere in the world. We will be officially launching ElecTRON ™ at Offshore Europe in September."

"Despite the challenging technical nature of the project, we have delivered a fully qualified electrical feedthrough that enables upgrades to existing systems without the need for expensive machining operations, thereby reducing project costs for our client."

BP subsea well engineer Gordon Budge said: "Tronic's new high temperature/high pressure connector will play a key role in enabling us to unlock Rhum's gas reserves. Without it we would be unable to observe well data and thereby achieve optimum production."

Jonathan Hill, Project Manager for Cooper Cameron UK said: "Cameron and Tronic have worked closely to ensure that the Rhum equipment is fully qualified to API standards for the full well service. This has been an exhaustive test program and its success has been a testimony to the teamwork between Tronic, Cameron and BP."