Thirty-four years ago, deep water meant 500 ft (150m) and any rig that wanted to operate in the Gulf of Mexico (GoM) during hurricane season was still looking for an official standard on how robust their mooring system needed to be.

At the same time, the first acoustic release mechanisms for mooring systems were created. They were large clumsy devices that possessed substantial limitations and lacked reliability, but they did exist, and found use in niche applications.

When a hull must be disconnected because of a hurricane for example, the traditional approach is to source an anchor handler on the spot market, outfit it, and sail it to the location. Then, each line must be disconnected and recovered or abandoned on the seafloor. Typically, this is considered a two to four-day operation depending on the water depth, type of mooring system and well conditions.

This means, that an operator must decide well before the storm hits, if they are going to interrupt operations to secure the well, contract a vessel and rig crew at a premium, and commence disconnect. Should the storm change tracks after that decision is made, any cost that has already been incurred is sunk.

For that reason alone, many operators have chosen to explore acoustic disconnects that can speed up the process. But even without an emergency situation, the ability to quickly disconnect and reposition to another well location can save money and take normal mooring operations off critical path. The challenge however, is to demonstrate modern oilfield reliability with acoustic disconnection systems that haven’t really changed since the eighties. It was with this challenge in mind, that the Inter-M® Release was developed.

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