Riser Failure

Riser Failure Can Prove Costly; Mitigate Such Risks with Professional Assistance

[Posted on 25 Mar 2013 by Bill Stewart]

An important aspect of the work Stewart Technologies does is analyzing what causes riser failure of off-shore oil and gas platforms. Most of the work Stewart Technologies would like to be known for is designing and building platforms, not studying what causes them to collapse. The sad reality, though, is that there are occasional failures in the industry. Examining each of these is extremely important, for several reasons.

Looking at the Environmental Impact

When an oil platform fails and there is a leak, such as the one in the Gulf of Mexico a few years ago, the news coverage usually focuses on the oil that is visible from the ocean’s surface. This certainly is a major environmental concern, but it is not the only one. There are also potential environmental concerns about the ecosystem below the surface of the water.

Part of analyzing a riser failure includes looking at the environmental effects of that failure. The first goal of riser analysis in this type of situation is to determine how a gushing site can be plugged as quickly as possible. However, the long-term effects of the stop used must also be considered. A longer-term consideration is what will happen to the riser, and how the ocean’s life will adapt to a failed riser remaining there.

Looking at the Legal Responsibilities

During an oil spill, it the brand-name company that people recognize is often blames. However, a riser failure should not immediately be attributed to the company that runs it and sells gas at the local station. There may have been a flaw in the construction, installation or design of the riser. Stewart Technologies helps companies analyze the precise cause of a failure, which helps establish which parities should be held legally responsible.

Looking at the Real World

In many cases, examining the causes of a riser failure helps engineers understand how risers function in the real world. The tests conducted in laboratories and computer simulations are extremely helpful, yet they are not the natural environment. There always is a difference between theoretical design and actual experience, and looking at why risers fail helps reduce that gap.

Looking at the Future of Flexible Risers

Studying failed risers is not just about looking backwards, but it is also about looking forwards. Through inspecting the conditions that led to a riser failure, engineers are able to build more reliable structures in the future. They can learn from previous mistakes that have led to tragedies and avoid making the same mistakes in the future. Perhaps the best reason for studying failures is to build more reliable risers and structures in the future.
There are many reasons why Stewart Technologies studies failed structures. Some aspects of the work involve determining blame, exonerating a company and minimizing environmental damage. Other reasons for studying these structures focuses on building more reliable structures in the future, by creating more accurate models and avoiding past mistakes.