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Shell’s Switch to Synthetic Lines Reduces Costs & Risks

Samson lines made with Dyneema®

08 April 2015 - Oil and gas major uses Samson's lines made with Dyneema® to tow and moor platform during challenging hurricane season operation.

When Shell needed to tow its newest and largest tension leg platform (TLP), the Olympus, during the U.S. hurricane season, it recognized the significant challenge on its hands.

The giant platform, Shell’s sixth and largest TLP, would first have to be carefully moved 425 miles from its location in Texas out to the Mars field in the Gulf of Mexico. Once there it would have to be quickly and safely moored to the seafloor some 3000 feet (900 meters) below.

Samson lines made with Dyneema® replace steel wire rope

Recognizing the scale and complexity of the operation, and driven by the company’s commitment to safety, Shell decided that unlike in the past, this time it would use Samson lines with Dyneema® throughout the towing process. Lines made with Dyneema® fiber are size-for-size as strong as wire rope and show similar elongation characteristics, yet they weigh 85% less and float. For Shell, the benefit would be faster, more efficient rigging and the reduction of health, safety, security, and environment (HSSE) issues during the design, fabrication, transport, and installation of the platform.

Because the use of synthetics was relatively new to Shell’s engineering team, they relied heavily on the knowledge and experience of SWOS, Samson’s Master Distributor and Fabricator in Houston. Prior successes in providing tow-out systems, such as BP’s Thunder Horse and Atlantis, both utilizing Samson’s products with Dyneema®, along with specialized chafe gear with Dyneema®, led Shell to SWOS and Samson. SWOS worked in collaboration with Samson, applying the technology in the field.

In the end, Samson’s high-performance synthetic lines made with Dyneema® were used for the critical inshore portion of the tow-out, the offshore transport, and during the positioning of the rig for mooring.

Faster rigging with fewer risks

Specific advantages included quick and easy rigging, safer worksites with fewer strain injuries, and a significant reduction of potential pinch-points. Switching to Samson lines made with Dyneema® also eliminated the injuries caused by “fish-hooked” strands that are common when using wire rope. And being much lighter meant there was no need for additional heavy lift equipment, eliminating another potential danger factor.

The result of all this was that switching to Samson lines made with Dyneema® for tow-out and installation helped Shell meet its Goal Zero program, which aims to eliminate fatalities and significant incidents despite often difficult working conditions.

In the case of the Olympus TLP, an offshore project worth more than $1 billion was delivered and positioned for installation with significant time savings and no safety issues for personnel or damage to the rig itself in the process.

Complete case study

Shell Olympus Offshore Drilling Platform TLP


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