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Marine-Certified Cables Improve Safety and Reduce Time to First Oil

In the marine industries the high profile DeepWater Horizon disaster (also known as the Macondo blowout) and increasing government regulation have led to a new "culture of safety". Part of this new outlook is a demand for products that are people and environmentally friendly, especially when things go wrong.

In response, last fall we announced the availability of our new MarineTuff line of HaloarrestXLink LSZH-jacketed instrumentation, control and VFD cables. These cables have been certified by the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) to their highest standards for marine use.

Besides high safety characteristics, marine-certified cables provide other benefits, including faster "time to first oil", a metric that is used for new oil production projects. Let's consider what makes a cable safe and how such a cable can speed up large complicated oil system projects.

Making Marine Cable Safe

There are two primary safety concerns when it comes to cables. The first is to make sure that the cables perform reliably when exposed to extreme heat or hot oil. Think about it…the signal that controls critical operations needs to get through in order to safely operate, or in the event of any emergency, safely shut down the process. The second concern is to make sure that if a fire consumes the cable, they do not emit any toxic fumes that would harm people in the area.

To address the first concern of reliable performance, Belden MarineTuff cables have thermoset jackets that do not melt at any level of heat and that can be exposed to hot oil. There are two jacket options:
  •     A jacket that can be exposed to oil at temperatures not in excess of 60?C.
  •     A jacket that can be exposed to oil at temperatures not in excess of 75?C.
These features result in marine-certified cables that can withstand the harshest offshore environments. Furthermore, if a fire occurs in the confined spaces of offshore rigs, or any kind of marine vessel, people and sensitive equipment are protected from damaging acid or smoke.

Like all of our copper Ethernet cables, these products come with Belden's patented Bonded-Pair technology, a design that bonds individual conductors. This assures an extremely uniform spacing between each twisted pair, a key factor for consistent electrical performance. It also helps the cables maintain physical integrity and good functioning when routed around and through tight passages.

Bonded-Pair cable is worth knowing about because the majority of industrial network failures occur due to signal transmission issues. An hour of network downtime on a major deepwater offshore facility can cost more than $1 million USD (10,400 barrels of oil at USD $90.00 per barrel).

To address the second concern of cables not emitting toxic fumes in the event of a fire, our new certified cables are what is known as "LSZH" or Low Smoke Zero Halogen . This means that the cable does not contain a commonly used component called halogens (hence they have the text "Haloarrest" in their name). Examples of halogens are fluorine, chlorine and bromine.

If a fire occurs, LSZH cables do not produce acid when burnt and combined with water, and they do not emit toxic fumes.
Improving Oil Project Returns with Marine-Certified Cable

How can a cable improve financial returns? Obviously keeping the network up and running, as described above, is one way.

Another way is to reduce the time and effort required to certify systems, thus helping to complete a project faster. All offshore signal transmission systems require certification by the relevant regulatory bodies. Historically, this has been a cumbersome process requiring substantial customer engineering, design, procurement and installation resources.

With cable that is certified out-of-the-box operators, contractors and suppliers reduce costs or improve profit margins. Plus, speedier project completion leads to faster time to first oil.

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