Steel Catenary Risers: The Need for Stability • Stewart Technology AssociatesStewart Technology Associates

Steel Catenary Risers: The Need for Stability

Steel catenary risers are large metal structures used to attach floating rigs, petro-chemical facilities and housing units to the sea floor. These steel risers must be able to withstand harsh currents, extreme weather and a variety of other elements to keep platforms and other structures stable and able to operate as they are intended. The designers of these unique structures must continually monitor how their risers perform, making needed repairs and watching for any malfunction or problem that may arise. New technology enables the manufacturers of the steel risers to continually maintain and improve their riser designs.

By performing and monitoring seakeeping analysis reports, they are able to improve their rises and keep them compliant with both federal and international guidelines. OSHA, the petroleum industry as well as the Environmental Protection Agency closely monitor how the risers handle extreme weather conditions and if they show signs of stress from strong underwater currents. The stability of the deep sea, steel structures is vital to the safety of the workers. It is also important when trying to maintain efficient productivity levels and keep operations moving smoothly.

The EPA relies closely on reports from both manufacturers and the managers of operations on platforms and rigs when it comes to the stability of the steel catenary risers. If a riser fails while supporting an oil rig, the resulting damage can be extensive. Not only would there be damage to the rig and platform, but loss of workers’ lives and extensive amounts of destruction in relation to the environment.

OSHA (the Occupational Safety and Health Administration) is concerned with the health and safety of all workers employed on the rig or platform. Any resulting injuries due to a malfunction of the rig or the breakdown of equipment can result in extremely high fines. Defects found in steel catenary risers can lead to the compromise of an entire platform. Even if no one is injured, an investigation would uncover possible safety hazards that make the platform unfit or too dangerous for operation.

The harsh environment in which risers are placed also plays a direct role in their design and structural integrity. Manufacturers must account for every aspect of the environment from deep sea underwater currents to hurricane strength winds. The force of both sea level and underwater elements can offer distinct challenges for individuals who must design the structures to withstand both extremes at the same time.

Steel catenary risers must be able to, not only support, but secure the platform and protect it from unexpected shifts and changes in the weather as well as the ocean currents. The need for stability is imperative when workers’ lives and the safety of the environment are at stake. Companies must be able to trust the structures they use so they can remain in business and increase productivity.

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