High in fibre
A leading manufacturer and supplier of fibre ropes for marine and offshore applications, including SPM hawsers for FPSOs and CALM BUOYS and deepwater mooring lines, Bexco was formed following an amalgamation a decade ago although the origins of its founding companies can be traced back to as far back as 1725.
Vermeire, one of the original companies that helped form Bexco, has always been active in the maritime sector, whereas the other company, Le Lis, was more of a manufacturing unit mainly active in offshore and partly within the maritime business.
“From the moment we merged our founding companies, we were strong in both the maritime and offshore industries,” said sales and marketing manager, Guy Blondé when he last spoke to European Oil and Gas. “In the last few years we have developed this offshore business and will continue this in future, especially considering new deepwater developments where the trend is for more fibre rope to replace the traditional wire and chain. We started doing tests into this ten years ago so we’re a pioneer in the field. The trend now is to use high performance materials such as HMPE because it’s possible to go to even greater depths, which requires stronger and lighter ropes – weight becomes critical. With materials like HMPE you get the same diameter as the wire rope for a certain strength but the weight is eight to ten times lighter, which is a major benefit.”
Over the last ten years, Bexco has evolved from a traditional rope-making company into a high tech specialist rope maker for both marine and offshore applications. Through a worldwide network of distributors the company has built up credibility as a reliable supplier of high quality ropes for general shipping, towing, fishing and industrial purposes. As well as this, Bexco is also a leading SPM (Single Point Mooring) manufacturer and one of the first experts in the deepwater market, introducing its DeepRope mooring lines in the early 1990s. With the new trend of replacing more and more wire rope with fibre rope, Bexco is one of the most innovative companies in the market, constantly looking for new opportunities and working out new solutions.
Bexco prides itself on offering technical advances, as Guy elaborated: “In offshore, we’re market leaders in the field of SPM systems – where a synthetic rope is used to connect an offloading tanker to a buoy or FPSO – and looking to expand our market share even further. We’re introducing some new developments such as inherent buoyancy. Originally SPMs required extra floats to keep them afloat, which could sometimes become detached or damaged, but now we’ve developed a rope where the floating element is already incorporated and we’ve been seeing good results for two years.”
The construction of individual SPM hawsers varies depending on the location, conditions and operational procedures. Bexco is able to provide a comprehensive range of equipment for offshore mooring systems designed to suit the specific requirements of different locations and water temperatures.
Technological advances have always helped Bexco stay ahead and seize opportunities. It recently spent more than two years in the development of a unique rope in a bid to answer the industries’ need for reducing fatigue damage to wire rope when used in combination with synthetic mooring lines.
The main problem was when synthetic mooring lines were combined with wire ropes in one mooring line, resulting in the wire twisting/untwisting as a result of the cyclic loading of the mooring leg. This twisting action of the rope drastically reduces its lifetime. To overcome this problem, Bexco’s R&D team has designed an innovative torque matched rope. In contrast with other already existing ropes, which only provide torque matching at a defined tension in the mooring leg, this newly developed rope matches torque over a wide range of tensions going from zero per cent to over 50 per cent of its MBL.
To prove the performance of this advanced rope, Bexco recently performed a full-scale torque matched test at Holloway in Houston. In this test a mooring leg, consisting of an 89 mm 6X52 IWRC steel wire in combination with a 150 mm polyester rope, was subjected to cyclic loading around different load levels ranging from 15 per cent up to 55 per cent of rope MBL. This test, witnessed by representatives of Intermoor, Noble Denton, ABS and Moorwest, showed that rotation in the steel wire stayed well below five degrees per lay length (as prescribed by ABS and ISO) over the complete tension range from 15 per cent to 55 per cent of the ropes’ MBL. This means that this new rope not only avoids fatigue damage to steel wire at the service load of the mooring leg, but also at loads occurring during storm conditions.
Bexco has evolved significantly through the years, as Guy commented: “When I joined the company we were ‘me too’ players in that we saw businesses that required ropes and offered the same kind of ropes as our competitors. Over the last couple of years we have developed to become a trendsetter – when a company considers ropes they think of Bexco first. Our aim is to be the first company approached and to have the best reputation in the market when it comes to special technical ropes.”
Products: Fibre rope