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High Angle EDP
Any floating vessel connected by a riser pipe to a wellhead on the seabed must be able to disconnect rapidly from the wellhead in the event of a position-keeping emergency. If it can't, there is a high risk of severe damage to the vessel, potentially causing injuries and fatalities, catastrophic failure of the riser pipe, severe damage to the wellhead, and possibly loss of well containment.
Before the development of the XR Connector™, all connectors used across the oil industry as emergency release connectors were limited by the maximum bending force which can be applied across them before they would not disconnect – i.e. if you go beyond that level of force the connector becomes stuck and will not separate. The bending force across the connector is determined by the amount of bend in the riser (generally as a result of the rig or ship at surface moving off well centre) and so the bending limit before the connector gets stuck is called the Maximum Riser Angle. The Maximum Riser Angle has nothing to do with the maximum strength of the connector, it is a limit caused by the internal geometry of the existing design of standard industry connectors.
This means that a drilling rig or ship struggling to maintain position at surface due to a storm could be allowed to move a considerable distance away from well centre without risk of the riser failing, but if it was to go as far as that, it would not be able to disconnect in an emergency – or so it was before the development of the XR Connector™.
The XR Connector™ differs fundamentally from all other subsea connectors because it is based on a face-to-face technology rather than a conventional male-into-female engagement. This key differentiator enables the XR Connector™ to release safely, reliably and repeatedly with up to 100% of maximum bending rated bending load applied. Existing connectors - even those that claim to be capable of ‘high angle release' - cannot separate with high bending loads applied, so the maximum disconnect angle (and therefore the maximum applied bending load) has to be limited to prevent lock-up.
Because the XR Connector™ has no maximum disconnect angle there is no risk of it locking up when released under load. This means that vessels can move much further away from well centre before disconnecting from the subsea wellhead, and when they do release, the vessel crew can be confident that there is no risk of finding the riser stuck. This reduces the need for pre-emptive disconnects when a vessel is working in marginal conditions, it gives the rig crew time to be certain that there is a problem before triggering a disconnect without risk of getting stuck, it allows a vessel to work to the physical strength limitations of the riser, not just the geometry limitations, it ensures that a rig can safely and confidently move away from location if an iceberg approaches and it ensures that after a disconnect, there is a competent, undamaged interface to reconnect with.
Even beyond normal operations, the XR Connector™ continues to shine. Because it doesn’t get stuck, ever, a rig with a failed BOP control system which has become anchored to the seabed by its riser, can safely and easily be released by triggering the XR™ by ROV. Even if the worst happens, and the riser fails, still the XR Connector™ offers hope - an ROV can release the XR™, the remains of the riser may naturally fall away or may need to be pulled away by a vessel with a tugger line and then a new riser or a capping stack can be installed.
The XR Connector™ provides radically improved vessel safety, significantly reduced environmental risk and reduced costs through greatly increased vessel operability.
It is rated to 10,000psi hydraulic bore pressure and 5,000psi hydraulic function pressure.
Every subsea rigid riser system should be fitted with an XR Connector™.
2019 Subsea Technologies (UK) Ltd.