Abstract

It has been observed that, although submarine power cables have a critical role to wind power arrays and power export to shore, they are often overlooked at early stages of projects and oversimplified during late stages. This leads to lack of attention given during cable design and planning, as well as pressured schedules during manufacturing, testing and installation. The significant number of incidents attributed to offshore submarine cables during construction has increased overall project risk, lowered system average power availability and increased insurance costs. Lack of proper routing can also result in an inability to maintain asset integrity for the project design life. Despite the attention that submarine power cables have received over the past few years, the number and cost of incidents does not appear to be decreasing.

A comparison can be made between offshore HVAC and HVDC cables used for wind power and offshore umbilicals and MV cables used in the oil and gas sector. These umbilicals are often similar in weight, size and bending stiffness, and have similar design, manufacturing, routing and installation challenges, but with a fraction of the incidents observed with offshore wind array and export cables. An additional caveat is that the offshore oil and gas sector has achieved a reliable track record while installing and maintaining these umbilicals and cables in fully dynamic conditions (ultra-deep water) as well static conditions. One primary difference between how the oil and gas sector executes these systems are design, planning and specification from an early stage of the project. Significant attention is given at an early stage to quality control, including offshore routing and umbilical testing specifically to avoid incidents resulting in umbilical damage due to the tension and crushing forces during installation as well as ambient seawater and seabed interaction. Management of these risks are documented, and optimal mitigation strategies are implemented early in the design phase.

This paper will discuss the types of incidents which have been observed during construction and installation of submarine HVAC/HVDC cables in the wind power sector and how they could have been prevented by normal practices of the offshore oil/gas sector from early design and planning all the way to installation and commissioning.

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