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All offshore platforms require a comprehensive and integrated power, control, instrumentation, and communication system that can perform under the most rigorous and demanding working conditions. It also requires the maintenance of human and environmental safety simultaneously.

Offshore cables are cables engineered for electrical power and instrumentation applications on offshore units. There are different offshore cables, but the two main types are BFOU and RFOU cables. Read on to find out how these major offshore cables differ.

Understanding BFOU and RFOU Cables

BFOU and RFOU cables are sheathed and armoured cables designed to withstand the most demanding marine environments and the harshest offshore conditions. They fall under the power and instrumentation cable catalogue, which consists of cables ordinarily used for telecommunications. They have fixed installation in different electronic and electromechanical equipment, lighting and critical systems.

BFOU and RFOU cables are made of similar materials and structures. They are both created to protect human life and preserve equipment during a fire. However, there is one primary difference between these two cables, and it lies in their specification.

With that said, it is essential to note that both BFOU and RFOU cables are created in compliance with the NEK 606 technical specification standard, which is widely adopted in numerous countries worldwide.

The Specification of BFOU Cables 

A BFOU cable has various features that make it the ideal choice for the most demanding offshore conditions. These features include fire resistance, mud resistance, low smoke, and freedom from halogen.

BFOU cables are designed for high performance in harsh conditions, such as extreme cold, heat, salt corrosion, and oil vibration. This primary type of offshore cable has an extra fire-proof Mica Glass Tape (MGT) that serves as a fire barrier over the conductor to deliver uninterrupted signals or power during a fire. 

The Specification of RFOU Cables

An RFOU cable is a flame retardant cable that typically features the following:

  • Tinned and stranded copper conductor
  • EPR-insulated
  • Mud-resistant
  • Halogen-free bedding
  • Tinned copper wire braid armour
  • SHF zero halogen sheath

RFOU cables are considered the best option for communication, control, instrumentation, and alarm systems. This primary type of offshore cable provides low smoke density, minimising the risk of suffocation and maintaining visibility around the fire zone. 


Overall, the primary difference between a BFOU cable and an RFOU cable is that the former comes with an additional fire-proof MGT that serves as a fire barrier over the conductor to deliver continuous signals and power during an emergency with fire. On the other hand, an RFOU cable is usually created with a flame retardant capability by the IEC60332 Flame Retardancy standard.

Nevertheless, despite their significant difference, both BFOU and RFOU perform almost the same functions: to protect human life and preserve equipment during fires. Should you require reliable offshore cables, feel free to contact Cable Source. Cable Source is a knowledgeable and reputable supplier of premium industrial and marine power cables in Singapore. Gain more insight on everything you need to know about manufacturing marine cables and more on our website.