6 Ways Hydrodynamic Analysis Benefits the Off-Shore Oil Industry

[Posted on January 18, 2016 by Bill Stewart]

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6 Ways Hydrodynamic Analysis Benefits the Off-Shore Oil Industry

As oil platforms move further and further off-shore in search of new and richer oil deposits, the challenges of finding and exploiting these new reserves become increasingly complex. There are many hydrodynamic forces at work both at water’s surface and beneath it, and without a thorough understanding of how these forces will affect equipment like oil platforms, a platform’s moorings, risers and pipelines, the consequences could be disastrous.

Hydrodynamic analysis helps to avoid rig downtime, tragic accidents, loss of life and environmental disasters by modeling and analyzing the forces that are at work on these components, so that the designs can be improved and strengthened to withstand the effects. It is also useful during the investigation of prior incidents to determine how the failure was caused and determine ways to avoid such incidents in the future.

Here are a few of the ways hydrodynamic analysis benefits the off-shore oil industry:

#1 Improved Platform Design

An off-shore oil platform is constantly subjected to ocean currents, tidal forces, wave action and both horizontal and vertical motion. The constant movement of water around structural components creates friction and areas of both high and low pressure that can start to fatigue vulnerable surfaces and contribute to corrosion at the water’s surface. As these components weaken, they can contribute to dangerous accidents or cause serious structural failures.

By using hydrodynamic analysis, the forces at work on the platform’s structure can be modeled and the design of the platform can be altered to make it stronger, more stable and longer-lasting. It can also help to reduce the maintenance requirements of the platform and lead to lower operational costs, while improving the overall safety of the working environment for the rig’s personnel.

#2 Improved Platform Moorings

For floating platforms or semi-submersible platforms, strong moorings are especially important to keep the platform stable and in the proper position. They must be strong enough to resist the action of the waves, moving the platform both vertically and horizontally, and they must also resist the current below the surface and along the turbulent sea floor. A failure of the moorings could lead to production disruptions and high repair costs, or it could lead to more serious problems.

With hydrodynamic analysis, the design of the moorings can be evaluated and improved to make sure that they can withstand the hydrodynamic forces and pressures that will exacted upon them. Different types of moorings will have completely different performance characteristics, and the analysis can help determine what types of anchors should be used in a particular area or situation, such as suction piles, drag embedment anchors or vertical load anchors, as well as the type of mooring line, such as chain, wire or synthetic materials. The analysis can also be used improve the designs of the fasteners connecting the mooring lines to the anchors, which will be subjected to extremely turbulent forces near the sea floor.

#3 Better Mooring Field Designs

Keeping supply vessels and oil tankers secure during the loading and unloading process is vital to the safety of both the platform and the ships. Any problems in the design of the mooring field could lead to dangerous ship movements that can cause injuries, property damage or environmental damage.

Using hydrodynamic analysis, the effects of tidal forces, ocean currents and wave action on both the ships and their moorings can be evaluated. By taking those calculations into account during the construction of the mooring field, the moorings can be properly placed to avoid dangerous encounters between ships and the platform or other vessels, and they can be placed in positions that will provide the most stability for loading and unloading operations.

#4 Better Riser Design

One of an oil platform’s most critical components is the riser, which connects the oil well to the platform and extracts the oil and gas from the deposit. Like other components, the riser is subjected to extreme forces and pressures, and must be able to withstand both lateral and vertical movement, as well as its own buoyancy. A riser failure can lead to environmental damages, injuries, or even more severe incidents, such as explosions.

By using hydrodynamic analysis, the rig operator can determine which type of riser and components should be used in a particular situation, such as flexible risers or rigid. The analysis can also help to design better components that will withstand higher forces and pressures.

#5 Precise Pipelaying Operations

Undersea pipes are subjected to extreme pressures, as well as the forces of the ocean currents, tidal forces and wave action. Pipes that are laid improperly or that are not designed to withstand the forces at play can fail, leading to environmental damage, production problems and expensive repair costs.

By employing hydrodynamic analysis, the pipes and fasteners can be analyzed and the designs improved to better withstand the forces and pressures present at such depths. It can also help to determine where the pipe should be placed to avoid the most extreme forces, and help the ships laying the pipes to do their jobs more effectively and efficiently. Done correctly, this should help to reduce the costs of laying pipe and improve its long-term durability.

#6 Improved Accident Investigations

Though accidents are rare in the off-shore drilling industry, compared to the number of active platforms, they still happen, and when they do, there can be serious injuries, environmental damage or even deaths. Additionally, when an accident happens, it halts production and can be very expensive for the platform operator and its partners.

Hydrodynamic analysis can help to determine how an accident occurred, and how it can be prevented in the future, by determining which components, if any, failed due to hydrodynamic forces. It can also be used to determine who is responsible for the incident, so that the proper measures can be taken.

Hydrodynamic analysis can be a crucial tool in the off-shore oil industry, and by using it to help in all phases of the platform construction and production processes, it can reduce maintenance costs and increase the overall safety of an oil platform.

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Sources:

http://stewart-usa.com/

http://stewart-usa.com/hydrodynamic-analysis.php

http://www.rigzone.com/training/insight.asp?insight_id=358&c_id=17

 

4 Interesting Things to Know About OrcaFlex

[Published by Stewart Technology Associates on January 18, 2016]

OrcaFlex is an industry-leading software package that is used for dynamically modeling and analyzing offshore marine systems, including oil rigs and platforms, buoys, mooring systems, anchors, drilling risers and other components. It helps to determine what forces will be acting on equipment used in marine environments, whether at the surface, below it or on the seafloor. This modeling process, called hydrodynamic analysis, can allow engineers to better design marine equipment to stand up to the extreme forces exerted on it, reducing structural fatigue and failure rates. The software can also be used during marine accident investigations to determine the cause or causes of the incident and devise solutions to avoid problems in the future.

It is very versatile software with hundreds of useful features, including compatibility with third-party applications for scripting or integration into other software, and it offers a graphical interface that is easy to use and has full access to all of the program’s many functions and components.

Here are a few of the things you should know about the OrcaFlex software package:

#1 What OrcaFlex is Used For

The primary function of OrcaFlex to is to provide hydrodynamic analysis of marine systems, which can help manufacturers and engineers to design products and structures to stand up to the extreme forces exerted by water in marine environments. These forces include wave action, tidal action, sub-surface currents, extreme pressures, friction, turbulence caused by the seafloor or other objects in the water, and chemical processes, such as corrosion.

OrcaFlex is often used for designing and analyzing drilling rigs, drilling risers, moorings, buoy systems, anchors, mooring cables, anchor chains, sub-sea pipelines and hoses systems used for transferring oil. Some of the most interesting uses include analyzing minesweeper operations and modeling sonar deployments for the military, designing off-shore wind and wave power systems for the renewable energy industry, seabed stability analysis, and remote-operate vehicle, or submarine, design.

#2 Specific Applications

OrcaFlex is used by many different industries for marine systems analysis, and here are a few specific examples of the applications that the software has been explicitly designed for:

  • Risers: The software can help design and analyze several types of common risers, including tensioned marine risers, steel centenary risers, flexible or hybrid risers, as well as umbilical systems. It can be used to determine the vertical and horizontal pressures acting on the riser system, and allow better systems to be created that prevent leaks and operation problems.
  • Mooring systems: Oil platforms, buoys and other equipment use moorings to keep them stable in the water, preventing drifting and allowing them to perform tasks like drilling, which require a stable platform to do efficiently. If the moorings fail, there could be dire consequences, such as oil leaks, accidents or even fatalities. OrcaFlex is used to analyze the mooring environment and create mooring systems that are safe and secure, including spread, jetty, turret, and single-point mooring systems, as well as special mooring systems for oceanographic or aquaculture systems.
  • Buoy Systems: Buoys are used to aid navigation, warn ships about underwater hazards, as mooring points or to carry scientific instruments, such as weather monitoring systems. The OrcaFlex software can model the effects of waves, tides and other forces on the buoy and mooring systems, allowing the design to be improved. It can analyze the performance of CALM and SPAR buoys, mid-water arches and metocean buoys.
  • Hose Systems: Hoses systems used in the transfer of petroleum products and other fluids in a marine environment, such as under-buoy, offloading or floating hose systems, can be analyzed by the OrcaFlex software to determine stress points and design systems that are less likely to leak or fail due to environmental conditions.
  • Military: The software can make operations such as ship-to-ship replenishing, mine-sweeping, helicopter landings safer, and it can improve sonar operations through modeling.
  • Renewable Energy: Modeling and dynamic analysis can be used to improve wave-generator, off-shore wind turbine and floating wind turbine operation, making the systems safer and more efficient.

#3 Features

The OrcaFlex software has many great features that make it an indispensable tool for many of its clients, and they help make it one of the leading software packages in the marine engineering industry. It offers a comprehensive graphical user interface with wire-frame and shaded views, a moveable camera to track large objects, a model browser that can manage and organize multiple models, copy and paste functions for objects or groups, the ability to show or hide objects or groups, drag and drop import, easy to use wizards for a variety of functions, and unlimited 3D views, graphs, functions and tables.

The software has built-in multi-threading and is thoroughly optimized for use on computer systems with multiple processor cores. It features batch processing for volume analysis and offers a wide variety of automation tools to do repetitive tasks automatically and generate a wide range of reports with the available data.

It is compatible with many third-party software tools, including MatLab and Python for scripting and automation purposes, and the C++ and Delphi programming languages for OrcaFlex into other software solutions. With the custom programming interface and API, the OrcaFlex DLL can be used to access certain functions programmatically from within your own custom Windows software. The package comes in 32 or 64-bit versions, and in a multi-license environment, the modeling workload can be split between multiple computers using a distributed computing client and server solution. This allows the software to process data much faster than a single computer could alone.

#4 Who Uses It

Currently, more than 260 organizations use the OrcaFlex software, in dozens of different industry. This includes government and military organizations, off-shore engineering firms, the off-shore oil industry, oceanographic research institutions, seismic research organizations, the renewable energy industry, the shipping industry and aquaculture organizations.

OrcaFlex is a great all-around tool for doing dynamic and static analysis of nearly any kind of marine system, and it its many clients find it to be an indispensable tool for designing equipment and structures that must withstand the powerful forces present in a marine environment.

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