ABS releases new structural requirements for FPSO conversions

ABS has adopted new structural requirements for the evaluation of converted FPSOs.

HOUSTON -- ABS has adopted new structural requirements for the evaluation of converted FPSOs. The criteria are contained in a revised version of the company's Guide for Building and Classing Floating Production Installations. The society also provided a preview of their soon-to-be released standards for newbuild FPSOs during a press conference today at OTC.

ABS has been working with industry for the past year in a two-phase approach toward revising the FPSO structural criteria: phase one is for conversions and phase two is for newbuilds.

"The methodology and practices for the new FPSO conversion criteria are offshore-centered," says Xiaozhi (Christina) Wang, senior managing principal engineer, ABS Corporate Technology. "The new requirements apply FPSO-specific loading conditions and prescribed strength assessment procedures that are to be followed."

ABS says the criteria allows for better prediction of environmental loads using more realistic load cases. Realistic tank load patterns as well as appropriate load combination factors were used in the development of the criteria. Low cycle fatigue was also factored into the criteria acknowledging the cyclic, more frequent loading and discharge nature of FPSOs as compared to trading tankers.

In addition to varying loading patterns, FPSOs are intended to operate at a specific site for a numbers of years without dry docking. Normal maintenance, inspections, and repair are carried out on-site. To reflect this, the new standards do not require port downtime for repairs as is the case for trading tankers.

Much heavier and larger topside production facilities are also being developed for FPSOs and the new requirements outline a topside and hull interaction analysis procedure requiring finite element analysis. "The weight of the topside structure and its interaction with the hull is an important consideration," Wang says. "Close review of the loads is needed as well as calculation of the interaction forces and their effects on the hull's strength and fatigue life."

The new standards also provide guidance for establishing the renewal scantlings for the FPSO as it starts its new life.

For phase two – the upcoming newbuild criteria – Wang says it includes all the features as developed for conversions such as more realistic loading cases, high cycle and low cycle fatigue strength assessment, hull girder ultimate strength assessment and hull interaction analysis with topside structure. The newbuild criteria is currently being finalized and will be released to the industry shortly, she says.

5/5/2009

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