Wellhead connectors form a critical part of subsea tree production systems. Their location in the riser load path means that they are subjected to high levels of bending and tension loading in addition to internal pressure and cyclic loading. As more fields continue to be discovered and developed that are defined as High Pressure and/or High Temperature (HPHT) these loading conditions become even more arduous. In order to ensure the integrity of HPHT components, industry requirements for components are setout in API 17TR8. This technical report provides a design verification methodology for HPHT products and some requirements for validation testing. The methodology provides detail on the assessment of static structural and cyclic capacities but less detail on how to assess the functional and serviceability criteria for wellhead connectors. Similarly, API 17TR8 does not include prescriptive validation requirements for wellhead connectors and refers back to historical methods. This paper describes a practical application of the API 17TR8 methodology to the development of a 20k HPHT connector and how it was implemented to verify and validate the connector design through full scale tests to failure.
A methodology was developed to meet the requirements of the relevant industry standards and applied to the connector to develop capacity charts for static combined loading. Verification was carried out on three dimensional 180° FEA models to ensure all non axi-symmetric loading is accurately captured. Connector capacities are defined based on API 17TR8 criteria with elastic plastic analysis (i.e. collapse load, local failure and ratcheting), functionality/serviceability criteria defined through a FMECA review and also including API STD 17G criteria including failure modes such as lock/unlock functionality, fracture based failure, mechanical disengagement, leakage and preload exceedance. These capacities are validated through full scale testing based on the requirements of API 17TR7 and API STD 17G with combined loading applied to the Normal, Extreme and Survival capacity curves (as defined by "as-built" FEA using actual material properties). Various test parameters such as strain gauge data, hub separation data, displacements, etc. were recorded and correlated to FEA prediction to prove the validity of the methodology. Further validation was carried out by applying a combined load up to the FEA predicted failure to confirm the design margins of the connector. Post-test review was carried out to review the suitability of the requirements set out in API 17TR8 and API STD 17G for the verification and validation of subsea connectors. The results build on previous test results to validate the effectiveness of the API 17TR8 code for verification and validation of connectors. The results show that real margins between failure of the connector and rated loads are higher than those defined in API 17TR8 and show that the methodology can be conservative.