The use of optical fibre in the telecommunication industry has greatly improved communication quality capacity and reliability over the period since it was first introduced. In the offshore oil industry, the use of this technology is still at a comparatively early stage as the first commercial installation was in '97, but the advantages are rapidly becoming clearer as the number of installations increase. Optical fibre has many advantages over the conventional copper-based solutions, such as 1,000-fold increase in bandwidth and reduction in error rate and inherent electrical noise immunity, but it has also introduced a number of new challenges, which include cable construction termination, jointing, testing and handling The experience gamed from the use of electrical systems in the subsea environment was only of limited use here, and the potential supplier had to draw on some of the solutions developed by the telecommunication industry as a starting point in many cases. The use of fibre optics has introduced some novel problem into system and component design. This paper will outline the various areas where the use of optics has clear advantages, the details to be considered when using this technology and will also identify specific application which have proven to be landmarks in the development process The paper will also review some of the problems encountered and the solutions used to achieve a reliable and installable product.


The acceptance of optical fibre connectors into th e Offshore Oil Industry has been an ongoing process within initial evaluation and experimentation beginning in mid 1990?s Prior to that, in the late 1980's, fibre cables had been used for topside-to-topside links between platforms

The five years since the first commercial opatical fibre connector installation has seen the maturing of the technology and its gradual adoption as a technology that supports advances. In subsea architecture in the main, the problem for component supplier has been to provided devices which are as reliable as their electrical counterparts and which can be handled in the same way. As with the early days of electrical systems, there has been a step-wise development through qualification, lessons learned during first application and re-design and re-qualification. With more than 1400 multi-pin connectors delivered on 24+ projects, we are now approaching a tune where the connectors can be regarded as being a mature and field-proven technology. The good news from the reliability standpoint is that once installed, there has not been a single optical fibre failure. With this as an deal starting point, the paper will discuss how the use of optics can enhance both Performance and Reliability lay out the step taken to achieve the present state of the industry.

Before that, it is relevant to contrast the development of fibre optic connectors with the advances made in the reliability of electrical connector systems.

Electrical Connectors

In the begining" the only available connectors were rubber-inolded types such as Envirocon, EO and Brantner, some not even wet-mateable.

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