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Feature Article

Connectors for Seismic Surveying Under Ice in the Arctic
Towed Streamer Data Acquisition System Gets Custom-Made Connectors For Harsh Conditions in Polar Environment

Feature Author
Chris Batten
Freelance Writer
Norfolk, England

Geo Explorer in the Arctic acquiring data with ION's Digi-STREAMER including SEA CON's connectors. (Courtesy of ION Geophysical)

Offshore exploration continues to expand into new frontiers for leading oil and gas companies. There have been many changes in exploration methods over the last 40 years, including a significant increase in the number of streamers and channels, as well as higher pressure requirements and smaller form factors.

One of the more complex areas is the seismic market. SEA CON (El Cajon, California) worked closely with ION Geophysical Corp. (Houston, Texas) on its data acquisition technology, with SEA CON supplying the electrical and optical interconnections used in ION's DigiSTREAMER towed streamer data acquisition system, designed for operating under Arctic ice.

Connector reliability is particularly important where there are adverse conditions and limited access, as in the Arctic. When demand for performance and survey areas increases, so do the challenges. Larger arrays mean towing more cables and managing larger amounts of data to collate and disseminate.

ION wanted to develop its next-generation towed streamer system with significantly higher specifications, which meant more demands on the connector interface. To meet this, SEA CON had to resolve the technical issues created by the amount of data to be passed through the connections, while maintaining the quality and reliability of the connection in a tiny form factor. In addition, the data had to pass through many connectors.

Quality Control and Testing
Downtime from technical failure can have an economic impact on seismic surveying, so reliability was a key concern.

The solution had to meet the electrical and pressure requirements and had to continue operating on specification after a significant number of mate and de-mate cycles. The connectors were tested to 1,200 volts AC; insulation resistance greater than 15 gigaohms 500 volts DC; continuity resistance less than 0.01 ohms; and current up to 16 amps in repeated pressure cycles to 500 pounds per square inch. To continue this article please click here.

Chris Batten is a freelance writer, former member of the British Army and CEO of a U.S. under-the-hook rigging company. He has been involved in heavy-lift operations in the oil and gas industry in the U.S., Europe and the Middle East, as well as other business sectors, including technology and marketing.

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