An Application of Oceanographic Data in Offshore Structural Design
- N.F. Leblanc (Chevron Oil Co.)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Society of Petroleum Engineers Journal
- Publication Date
- September 1967
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 273 - 282
- 1967. Society of Petroleum Engineers
- 4.5 Offshore Facilities and Subsea Systems
- 2 in the last 30 days
- 126 since 2007
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Described in this paper are oceanographic data which should be considered by an offshore design engineer and methods for developing a design wave height from the oceanographic data. The selection of a design wave is predicated on contemplated waves which might affect the site throughout the life of the structure. Selection of a design wave height may be based on (1) arbitrarily established recurrence frequencies of hurricanes affecting the structure (predicted wave heights are associated with the expected variations of forces resulting from these waves) and (2) a risk-type evaluation wherein all possible storms affecting the area are considered (anticipated wave heights are associated with both investment plus risk costs and expected variations of forces).
It is shown how the following oceanographic predictions are integrated into design considerations: (1) a classification of storm intensity which considers all recorded storms which affected the design area, (2) the recurrence interval of storms of a given intensity (this interval is dependent on the extent of the geographical area considered in the design problem) and (3) a forecast of all wave heights which might affect the area (geometry of a structure often necessitates consideration of waves from a multiplicity of directions). The authors believe that the described techniques can result in selecting an adequate and reasonable design wave.
Since the inception of offshore operations in the Gulf of Mexico, engineers engaged in designing structural facilities have been plagued with the problem of selecting an adequate and reasonable design wave. In the development of any offshore structure it is mandatory that the engineer evaluate the ability of the structure to withstand the ocean waves to which it will be subjected.
Selecting such design waves quite naturally necessitates a coalition of the oceanographer and the design engineer. The oceanographer must provide a detailed knowledge of scientific principles which govern the behavior of waters in the Gulf of Mexico. He should also have an adequate knowledge of the manner in which design waves are utilized by the engineer. Although the design engineer's primary responsibility is applying the oceanographer's specialized knowledge in the creation of real structures, it is important that he possess some knowledge of related oceanographic principles to reasonably evaluate and apply the recommendations of the oceanographer.
In the Gulf of Mexico it is the hurricane wind waves which generally govern the design of an offshore facility. The oceanographer must therefore develop techniques for predicting the heights, periods and frequency of all hurricane waves which might affect a particular structure. From this mass of oceanographic data, the design engineer must select the design waves which will apply to his particular design.
Past Studies on Frequency and Amplitude of Hurricane Wind Waves
Past oceanographic studies on the frequency of hurricane wave heights in the Gulf of Mexico have been devoted largely to predicting the recurrence interval of hurricanes which will generate maximum significant waves of given heights. The maximum significant wave height is the average height of the highest one third of the waves in that portion of the storm producing maximum wave heights. Since these waves occur over a relatively small portion of the storm (Fig. 1) and since the paths of hurricanes vary considerably (Fig. 2), the recurrence frequency of such heights is largely a function of the extent of the geographical area considered.
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