First Subsea Introduces Diverless Bend Stiffener Connectors

With increasing focus on diver safety and ease of installation of flexible risers and umbilicals in deepwater projects, First Subsea Ltd announces the Ballgrab range of self-energising, diverless bend stiffener connectors (DBSC). The connectors can be used either with existing platform's I / J tubes with or without bellmouths using the male connector only or as a complete male / female unit. In both cases they give operators the wherewithal to perform faster and safer installations of risers and umbilicals.

The Ballgrab DBSCs are based on First Subsea's proven ball and taper technology. For connecting a riser to a platform's I / J tubes with bellmouths, a male Ballgrab connector is used such that it fits and grips through the existing bell mouth into the I/J tube of any size without the need for a female element. For new projects, First Subsea has developed a more compact Ballgrab connector where a female receptacle is connected though welding or bolted flanges to the platform's I/J tubes. Fitted to either some or all the platform's I/J tubes at the outset of a project, the compact Ballgrab 2-piece connector allows for a much smaller DBSC connection in often very constrained locations. It also gives greater operational flexibility once the production unit is in the field.

The Ballgrab DBSCs are available for 3-in. to 19-in. diameter umbilicals and flexible risers although the design is scalable for larger diameters. In all cases the connectors offer operators the ability to add umbilicals and flexible risers quickly and easily, and with the confidence that the connection is secure. The Ballgrab DBSCs are fully self latching without the need for diver intervention, hydraulics or any form of external control; and with minimal ROV intervention for visual checks. For each DBSC, the ball and taper connector design is optimised with respect to the bending moments and load path analysis, and fatigue analysis. The DBSC design has been qualified through a series of fatigue tests, specified with third-party Det Norske Veritas (DNV) consultation.

Working with Trelleborg Offshore, a leading bend stiffener supplier for all types of risers and umbilicals, the Ballgrab DBSC has been proven in the field with a number of male connector only Ballgrab DBSCs used on platforms in the Gulf of Mexico.