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Proceedings of the Eleventh (2001) International Offshore and Polar Engineering Conference

Stavanger, Norway, June 17-22, 2001

Copyright 2001 by The International Society of Offshore and Polar Engineers
ISBN 1-880653-51-6 (SeO; ISBN 1-880653-52-4 (VoL I); ISSN 1098-6189 (SeO
Use of Light Weight Substructures for Oil and Gas Marginal Field Development
Wan Mahmood Wan Ab. Majid
MARA Uni versi t y of Technol ogy
Kual a Lumpur, Mal aysi a
Mohamad Bin Embong
Jacobs-Prot ek Engi neers Sdn Bhd
Kual a Lumpur, Mal aysi a
As the world oil price is cyclic in nature, the economic viability of
the oil and gas developments is often subjected to a certain risk and
sometime unforeseeable.
The development plans, which were economical at certain time,
may no longer be true at other time, especially when the oil price hit
the bottom level.
Typical example of this type of development is the marginal fields,
which require minimal investment and fast recovery in order to
remain viable. This is due to the short life span of reservoir, minimal
crude reserve and also mostly scattered in various locations. In some
cases the development will be put on-hold for the next cycle or
when the oil price at the peak or attractive level.
Whilst the marginal filed development is commonly simple in term
of process facilities, but the structures will remain complex if the
design is to adopt a standard or conventional approach. The
complexities of the structures are mainly dependent on several
factors such as topside loads, environmental conditions, operating
philosophy, soil conditions and the water depth.
With the structure is relatively more complex than other facilities,
the structure cost may out weighted other cost and thus put the total
project cost as non-viable to proceed with the development.
This paper briefly discussed how the use of the Light Weight
Structures may reduce the overall project cost thus potentially save
the project. The main point of interest will be: what are the technical
challenges of the cost saving ideas, such as deviation to Codes and
Standard and common practices, use of state of the arts computer
analysis, fit for purpose principal and use of newly developed or non
proven technologies.
Key Words: Light Weight Structures, deviation, Cost Saving Ideas,
Various types of Light Weight Structures had been designed and
installed world wide today.
Generally, these different types of structure may be classified into
the following broad categories :
Jacket Steel Template, Leg Driven Pile or Skirt Piles.
, Free Standing Structure/Caisson.
[] Braced Caisson
Figure (1) to (3) illustrate a typical sample of the structures.
The suitability of the type of Structure to be considered may be
selected depending on the design criteria or objective.
Regardless of the design criteria or types of structures, most of the
weights saving ideas are normally common and applicable to all.
Relocatable and Reusability
Relocatable and reusability of the structure may be considered as a
very important aspect of the structure.
These features able to reduce total cost of ownership especially
when the service life of a particular reservoir is short and the
structure may be easily relocated and reused at the new site.
All necessary attachments or mechanisms may be properly designed
to suit the structure type in order to ease the removal of the
structures later date.
For relocation purpose, the designer may use generic data that is
likely to be suitable for majority areas and checked for the site
specific as to confirm the adequacy.
Paper No. 2001- JSC- 260
In some instances, the weight saving ideas may contradict to the
relocatable and reusable concept. In this case, the designer and the
owner shall balance between the weight savings and the importance
of the features.
The subsequent sections will briefly discussed the weight saving
ideas, individually or a combination of them may produced a
significant weight saving.
Non-conventi onal Desi gn Approach
Design using conventional codes and standards ensures safe and
sound structures. However, various safety factors built in the code
checking and conservative assumptions somehow resulting the
structures are well exceeded "fit for purpose" during their entire
service life.
Use of state of the arts computer analysis such as finite element
based program; non-linear analysis may contribute to a significant
weight saving. Non-linear analysis utilised the benefit or the reserve
strength in the plastic limit zone instead of elastic limit. The analysis
do not check the structure in compliance to the codes and standards
but will be checked for buckling or yielding and collapse behavior
of the structure. This is to ensure that there is no danger of platform
progressing collapse during the anticipated extreme design loading.
Often this approach raise a concern on safety and reliability issues
by certain parties, especially Platform Operator. Hazard scenarios
and effect to the platform shall be investigated to weigh the
acceptable risk taken.
This approach requires an ordered and systematic approach by
experience designers who can interpret the result accurately and to
be reviewed by specialist third party.
Codes and Standards
Selective deviation to the codes and standards or recommended
practices, if properly rationalized based on its real needs may results
in considerable weight saving while maintaining the integrity of the
Some typical examples where the codes and standards may be
Relax slenderness ratio limitation to 180 instead 120. Most of the
members are governed by slenderness ratio limitation not stress
level. By increasing slenderness ratio, considerable saving may be
achieved. However members has to be designed and checked for
stresses, fatigue and vortex shedding due to current.
API RP 2A joint check caps the yield stress to 2/3 of tensile (Fyc,
clause 4.1). The JIP "assessment criteria, reliability and reserve
strength tubular joints" by MSL, UK recommended this could be
relaxed to 0.8.
Use of 3D CAD
Use of 3D-CAD model often help the designer in the design process
to monitor and ensure the cost and weight saving ideas implemented
are practical and do not contribute to unacceptable safety risks. The
model may be developed to identify clashes, fabrication and
installation related problem and operational constraints at the early
stage of the design. Continuing use of 3D CAD in fabrication may
result in considerable saving, i.e. less re-work, shorter schedule,
reduce surplus and wastage.
Design concept and approach is remains as the important factors in
determining the final result, which is meeting the design objective;
i.e. Light Weight Structure.
The subsequent sections briefly discussed some of the design
approach or concept, which may be considered in designing Light
Weight Structures.
Use of Fy 450 vs Fy 350 MPa steel
Use of Extra High strength steel (450 MPa) could contribute the
significant weight saving, provided that the components are not
governed by buckling (slenderness ratio), fatigue or deflection.
The cost penalty is approximately 10% of High Strength Steel (350
MPa). However this is normally out weighted by the benefits of
weight, weld and fabrication saving.
Use of GRP or Al umi num
Some of the component of the structures, especially non-load
bearing may adopt to use GRP or Aluminum instead of carbon steel.
Typical example is using of GRP/Aluminium gratings for jacket
walkway, thus eliminating maintenance. However GRP may
deteriorate in UV unless is properly UV protected.
Mudmat, which is served as a temporary foundation prior to the
piling may adopt to use aluminum. This will provide a lighter
structure and reduce cathodic protection requirement for the
Estimated saving of 30kg/m ^2 when using aluminum and fabrication
saving, also avoiding re-galvanising after cutting, banding etc.
Internal ring stiffener
Internal Ring stiffeners to strengthen joints are much more
expensive than increasing can sizes, provided PWHT can be
Casti ng Joints
Use of casting joints may improve fatigue and weight, however
since the joints has to be specially tailored, it will become long lead
items and expensive compares to normal joints.
Paper No . 2001-JSC-260
Overlapped Joints
Although overlapped joints marginally stronger than simple joints,
simple tubular joints with gaps are much easier to fabricate and cost
effective. Overlapped joints often complicate underwater inspection
during the service life; thus it is not advisable to adopt the use of
overlapped joints.
Cathodic Protection
The structure, which is submerged underwater, needs a protection
against corrosion. Providing sufficient anodes will ensure there is
no corrosion will take place in the structure during the service life.
However, often anodes are designed with safety factor by increase
of design life by double.
The designed of anode to a specific operational life without safety
factor or minimal contingency may contribute to a significant
weight and cost saving. The anodes may be replaced or renewed
prior to reuse of the structures.
Thermal Sprayed Al umi num Coating
The structures in the splash zone, normally defined in the range of
(+) 4m above and below sea water level are subject to heavy
Normal practice is to provided a splash zone coating and at the same
time to provide a corrosion allowance up to 12mm. This allowance
provides no structural strength but contribute to a significant weight
Use of thermal sprayed al umi num coating at splash zone may avoid
the corrosion allowance or to an absolute minimum.
Top of Jacket Outside Splash Zone.
Avoiding placing the structure framing in the splash zone provides
an alternative solution to the corrosion allowance; i.e. top of jacket
framing above splash zone
However the weight penalty due to the higher structure has to be
balanced with the saving from the corrosion allowance.
Using of this device may reduce wave and current loading due to the
existence of marine growth. However the maintenance and
performance of the devices always a concern by operators or owner.
Jacket Template Structure, Use of Skirt Piles vs. Leg Driven
Use of Leg driven pile with grout connection may reduce natural
period and possibility of reducing leg joint can thickness. Improve
boat impact and fatigue performance. However this will hamper a
useful feature, relocatable.
Some of the advantage of using skirt piles are:
Weight saving on piles above mudline.
Leg sizes are independent of pile diameter which is a function
of soil parameters and penetration limitation. May optimised
leg sizes to resist service load only.
These advantages are normally out weighted the disadvantages in
achieving the objectives, i.e. light weight structures and relocatable
Typical example of disadvantages of adopting skirt piles are as
fol l ows:
[] Requires chaser pile. Pile driving needs extra precautions
against pile buckling due to a long stick-up.
[] Grouting operations for skirt pile.
[] Jacket levelling needs underwater gripper or suitable devices,
i.e. padeyes. Relatively difficult operations, underwater
However, the above can easily be resolved or minimised the risk
with appropriate design and installation measures as follows:
Underwater hammer or conventional hammer together with
chaser pile may be use to overcome pile driving problem.
[] Appropriately designed and checked the chaser for buckling
and installation measures may be provided, i.e. piles guides,
[] Grouting operations is minimal compares to the total
installation time.
[] Levelling mechani sm or padeyes near mudline can be designed
and provided for jacket levelling purpose.
[] Specific requirement of offshore installation contractor may be
incorporated at the early stages of the design.
Use of Surplus Materials
Make use of surplus materials may contribute a significant cost
saving. However, this may contribute to weight penalty and design
constraint due to the limited sizes available and thus hamper the
design objective; Light Weight Structure.
Use of Marine Growth Removal Device
Several devices are available where it continuously remove the
marine growth to the structure by the action of wave and current
For the small structure, the weight of the appurtenances or
secondary structures would contribute to the significant weight of
the structure. The importance of these items may be rationalized to a
bare mi ni mum required for safe operations. Some of the typical
sample of the items are discussed in the following :
Use of top of jacket elevation as sump pump deck
Instead of designing an additional intermediate level, sump pump
deck to use the top of j acket elevation.
Pa pe r No. 2 0 0 1 - J SC- 2 6 0
Eliminate top of jacket perimeter wal kway and handrailing.
Eliminating top of j acket wal kway and handrailing. This will reduce
wave loading on the j acket and maintenance costs. However, if
nodes inspection is required or possible access to clamps,
scaffolding is to be erected.
Eliminate staircase
Adopt vertical (GRP) ladder or eliminate stairways altogether.
Provide access to water line through escape chute. Minimal one
staircase to be provided from deck to the jacket
Eliminate sump caisson
Consider use of drain vessel hung underneath deck. Reduce wave
loading to the substructure. Process consideration is required to
justify the suitability of the scheme.
Eliminate riser guard
Reduced the cost of riser guard, maintenance and reduce wave load.
Safety cases may confirmed the risk associated with this approach.
The Light Weight Structure is considered met its ultimate objective
i f weight saving idea or combination of ideas contribute to a
significant weight reduction while maintaining its safe operations.
"Fit for Purpose" design shall be considered as main criteria in
designing light weight structures.
One possibility to further maximise cost saving is to plan the
installation of the structure to be coinciding with the available
barges or rigs for other activities at nearby site, such as drilling, pipe
laying and maintenance works.
These barges and jack-up drilling rigs are normally equipped with a
lifting crane with a limited capacity in the range of 300 to 500
tonnes, which may be used sufficient to install Light Weight
Relax the environmental from 1 year to 1 month due to short
operational life. Saving on pile and jacket. Requires operating
philosophy change.
Two hook upending
Eliminate floatation phase, closure diaphragm, buoyancy and
flooding system.
OIC liaison
Early discussion with Offshore Installation Contractor on load-
out/floatation and installation may contribute to more effective
weight saving ideas.
Loadout by lifting
Consider loadout by lifting instead of skidding. Eliminate jacket to
be designed for loss of support to simulate skidding and bridging or
limit the deflection of the loss of support. Eliminate loadout steel
frame however crane requires to be mobilised to the yard.
Pa pe r No. 2 0 0 1 - J SC- 2 6 0
Ref erence
[ 1 ]
[ 2 ]
[ 3 ]
[ 4 ]
[ s ]
American Petroleum Institute - API RP 2A
American Institute Steel Construction
Structural Analysis Computer System Manual (SACS),
Engineering Dynamic Inc.
1999 Worldwide Survey of Minimal Offshore Fixed
Platform & Decks for Marginal Fields, January, 1999.
The JIP "assessment criteria, reliability and reserve
strength tubular joints" by MSL, UK
Figure (2) Typical sample- Free Standing Structure/Caisson
Figure (1) Typical Sample- Jacket Steel Template Structure- 2D
Figure (3) Typical Sample-Braced Caisson