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First Subsea Nails Jack-St. Malo Gig

12 August 2011

Chevron has tapped deep-water mooring specialist First Subsea to supply components for the supermajor’s Jack-St Malo project in the Gulf of Mexico.

First Subsea will provide 16 of its Ballgrab ball-and-taper mooring connectors for the Jack-St. Malo semi-submersible, located about 280 miles south of New Orleans in water depths of 2133 metres (7042 feet).

"The Ballgrab Series III male connectors will be the largest produced so far and the first to comply with the new ABS Mooring Guide,” First Subsea said in a statement.

The Ballgrab connector is made up of a male connector and a female receptacle.

The female receptacle will be installed subsea with the mooring system's suction piles, mounted on docking porches, First Subsea said.

Once the semi-sub is in position, the male connector is lowered into the female receptacle. The process is then repeated until all 16 mooring lines are connected.

The UK-based company will install the connectors, spokesman David Owen said.

He was unable to give details of the contract and could not say when delivery would take place.

Ballgrab connectors are used extensively in the Gulf of Mexico, at projects including BP’s Mad Dog, Murphy’s Kikeh and Thunder Hawk and Shell's Perdido.

"The key advantage of ball and taper is the simplicity of the connection,” Owen said. "The ball and taper connection works on the principle of balls engaged in tapers in the male mandrel part of the connector; which is inserted into a closely fitting tube or female connector.

"It is self aligning and has a simple self-activating mechanism. As the male connector is inserted into the female, the balls roll up the tapers. Attempting to remove the tube from the male connector causes the balls to try to roll down the taper, pressing against the female connector tube, resulting in powerful multi-point grip in which all grip elements are in compression, and where the grip is directly proportional to the load applied.”