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Secc celebrates 20 years of innovation in subsea connection technology


At Secc, we’re celebrating 20 years of manufacturing and supplying our self-sealing, dry-breakaway technologies into the international oil and gas and marine markets.

Secc was founded in 2004 by inventor and Technical Director Matt Readman, who designed the original coupling technology that our portfolio of 14 connectors is based around today and developed it to help subsea operators and service companies remove the risk of fluid spill and protect personnel, equipment and the marine environment. 

In the last 20 years, we’ve become the go-to provider of emergency quick disconnect (EQD) technologies for subsea and marine applications and the market leader in the supply of breakaway technologies for riserless light well intervention (RLWI) sector. Our couplings offer a true plug and play solution which is being used to enhance safety and meet environmental responsibilities in every part of the world where RLWI takes place.

“Our technologies offer a small but critical link in a big chain,” explains Secc Managing Director Steve Higgins.

“They provide a valuable insurance policy against the potential risk of system failure: one that delivers important safeguards for personnel, the environment and offshore assets operating in deep and dark subsea environments.”

Our Story: Breaking new ground in subsea intervention

Secc grew out of the unique pressure-balanced, full-bore coupling technology that Matt Readman invented while working as a senior technical specialist at Manchester’s prestigious University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST), and before he joined forces with investor and entrepreneur Matthew Kimpton-Smith – CEO of specialist engineering group and Secc’s parent company, Cygnet Group – to bring his invention to market.

The subsea oil and gas industry soon became their focus, with operators immediately recognising the advantages of a connector that could be made and broken under pressure. A full-bore connection that would enable very high flow and pressure of 15,000psi and at depths of 10,000ft would provide the market with a greater level of control and capability as well as supporting exploration at higher pressures and greater depths.

What made the technology even more compelling to operators was its unique pressure-balanced coupling mechanism, which means that all separation forces are removed, even at full working pressure, without overengineered compensations systems. Both sections of the transfer hose are instantly sealed (as standard) on disconnection to remove the risk of fluid spill, protect offshore assets and leave hose lines intact and reuseable even in the event of a drive-off emergency. This element of the technology would become known as Secc’s 100% dry breakaway Zero Spill capability and prove unrivalled in the field, offering clear safeguards for operators seeking new ways to manage risk of fluid spills by allowing disconnection under full working pressure in subsea environments.

In consultation with subsea operators and service companies, Matt, Matthew and a small team of engineers began to develop, patent and commercialise the Secc’s first product – the Hot Make Hot Break (HMHB). The connector removed the risk of uncontrolled subsea and surface disconnections in an emergency and provided a clear alternative to guillotining expensive hoses. Added to this, hoses could be immediately and remotely reconnected by remotely operated vehicle (ROV) at any depth and without ingress or spill, leading to significant reductions in production downtime and vessel costs.

Opportunities in Light Well Intervention

Their timing turned out to be excellent, and the prospects of our fledgling company were boosted by a groundswell of growth and investment in the light well intervention market ( the practice of carrying out live intervention on a subsea asset using a dynamic positioning (DP) vessel) that began to take off in the early 2000s. Equipped with a technology that had great synergy with the requirements of the market and its need to provide a robust installation safety case, we were ideally positioned to seize the commercial opportunity.

Our coupling offered service companies a way to get more oil out of subsea assets while managing pollution risk and protecting personnel. It enabled operations such as well enhancement, pipeline pre-commissioning, maintenance, marine transfer and plug and abandonment (P&A) to be carried out more efficiently and safely than ever before.  

In the years that have followed, we’ve developed a portfolio of 14 coupling and connector designs, with 100s of variations in materials, pressure, bore size and trim, driven by the needs and guidance of the subsea industry to provide reliable EQD and Hot Stab options, particularly as part of projects where success relies on achieving targeted flow rates and reliability subsea. In turn, our technologies have also played a part in stimulating growth and forwarding the achievements of RLWI and subsea operations throughout the world.

“Thanks to the strength and ingenuity of Matt’s original coupling technology, which is still central to everything we offer the market today, combined with our no-compromise philosophy on reliability and performance, our connectors remain unrivalled in the market globally,” explains Steve. 

“20 years of continued innovation, field history and R&D by our highly skilled teams of engineers working alongside major operators on world-leading topside and subsea projects have enabled us to achieve considerable success. Together, we’ve advance EQD capability further than ever before while helping our customers minimise disruption to the task in hand, improve safety and reduce downtime.”

The future: A solution to diverse fluid transfer challenges

Secc now owns 33 live patents globally, based on the original coupling technology and continually updated to reflect new innovation, refinement and adaptation by our team of specialist engineers and developers. Looking to the future, we’re diversifying the technology to address fluid transfer challenges in other markets, including the movement and storage of green energy resources.

“Our growth to this point has been organic and in line with the developing needs of the subsea market,” says Steve. “In that time, we’ve learned an enormous amount about what the technology can achieve in hundreds of different applications. We’re now at the point where we have the knowledge and the ambition to prove its capability in transferring fluids safely and efficiently from A to B in other established and emerging markets, including hydrogen and LNG fuelling, cryogenics, nuclear waste management, carbon capture and storage.”