A riser is a fluid conduit connecting from a subsea well to a surface floating production vessel such as a spar, TLP, or a semi-submersible. It is a key component for transporting produced oil and gas from the subsea wells to the surface production vessel. Through nearly 30 years of design and implementation, Steel Catenary Risers (SCRs) have been found to have the advantages of relatively low manufacturing cost and good adaptability to floating platform’s motion. Thus, SCRs are widely used in GoM and Brazilian water. This paper investigates design challenges of SCRs used for a semi-submersible in deepwater and ultra deepwater.

As the application moves to deepwater and ultra deepwater, challenges of a conventional SCRs increase significantly in terms of global performance, fabrication, and installation. This paper first introduces an SCR system used for a semi-submersible platform. One of the challenges is the harsh environmental condition such as hurricanes or tropical cyclones. Severe motions of a semi-submersible platform may cause significant compression loads on SCRs at the Touch Down Zone (TDZ). It is challenging to design the SCRs to meet API RP 2RD requirement for the riser dynamic strength. Multiple seeds of random motion simulations for irregular wave are necessary for the evaluation. The new riser design code of API STD 2RD can also be used to assess riser strength, especially under 1000-yr survival environmental conditions.

It is challenging to design SCRs to meet a design life of 30 years and beyond. The fatigue assessment of the SCRs considers the damage contributions from the semi wave motions, riser Vortex-Induced Vibration (VIV) due to ambient current, and Vortex-Induced Motion (VIM) of a semi-submersible platform. Fatigue contribution from installation is also considered and included in the combined fatigue damage calculation. The long term combined factored fatigue life is computed to ensure that the SCRs meet the requirement of design life.

This paper further investigates intermittent Vortex-Induced Vibration (VIV) caused by heave motions of a semi-submersible platform. This VIV phenomenon has an impact on SCR strength due to the drag amplification as well as fatigue damage. The installation concerns come from riser pipe size, installation method and capacity of an installation vessel. Examples are provided for illustrations of the design challenges. In addition, this paper explores likely solutions to meet SCR design challenges for the applications in deepwater and ultra deepwater.

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