Deep Down, Inc. today announced that it has been awarded a patent [number 7,467,662 B2] by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. This new patent relates generally to undersea wells and more particularly to a method and apparatus for installing a subsea umbilical.
Traditional installation of an undersea umbilical involves a J-plate on the termination end of the umbilical which includes center locking mechanisms such as drive screws, collet connectors or tri-locks, located on the J-plate. These locking mechanisms are expensive and complicated. In the Company's continuing quest to provide the offshore industry with quicker, safer and more cost-efficient solutions, Deep Down has designed a simpler J-plate installation procedure utilizing a ROV manipulator-held running tool called the flying-lead-installation-running-tool (FLIRT). The newly patented design eliminates the damage prone acme screw thread and collet locking mechanisms and associated complex mechanical override systems of traditional J-plates. The simpler, easy-to-operate, and highly reliable ROV-enabled locking mechanism in Deep Down's J-plate yields significant cost savings compared to traditional designs. The new design has interconnectivity with all manufacturers of umbilical and subsea distribution systems. This makes subsea reconfiguration possible without retrieving the flying lead. This is accomplished by inserting an intermediate plate between the inboard and outboard J-plates. In addition to significant savings for the cost of the Company's new J-plates, Deep Down management believes its customers can experience a reduction in installation time for J-plate connections of up to 50%.
"We believe simpler, more effective engineering designs naturally reduce component costs, improve useful service-life, and are inherently more reliable during installation and operation. As we move into deeper water, system reliability can drop as costs increase exponentially. Our quest for offshore solutions is driven by the 'simpler-is-better' philosophy," said Ronald E. Smith, Deep Down's President and CEO. "Demand for our distribution system product and service solutions has grown tremendously, as our clients recognize the superior handling characteristics of our flying leads, associated subsea hardware, and installation equipment used in the delivery of our subsea solutions. We remain committed to providing the most efficient, cost effective, and reliable subsea solutions in the industry," Smith concluded.