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IBP1497_12 A NEW SHALLOW WATER SPAR CONCEPT: THE BUOYANT TOWER 1 2 3 Maher, J.V. ; Finn, L. , Castello, X. ; Souza, M.

4; Guimaraes, R.5

Copyright 2012, Instituto Brasileiro de Petrleo, Gs e Biocombustveis - IBP Este Trabalho Tcnico foi preparado para apresentao na Rio Oil & Gas Expo and Conference 2012, realizado no perodo de 17 a 20 de setembro de 2012, no Rio de Janeiro. Este Trabalho Tcnico foi selecionado para apresentao pelo Comit Tcnico do evento, seguindo as informaes contidas no trabalho completo submetido pelo(s) autor(es). Os organizadores no iro traduzir ou corrigir os textos recebidos. O material conforme, apresentado, no necessariamente reflete as opinies do Instituto Brasileiro de Petrleo, Gs e Biocombustveis, Scios e Representantes. de conhecimento e aprovao do(s) autor(es) que este Trabalho Tcnico seja publicado nos Anais da Rio Oil & Gas Expo and Conference 2012.

Resumo
Um novo conceito de plataforma Spar foi desenvolvido para guas rasas. O casco consiste em quatro ou sete clulas cilndricas agrupadas por meio de espaadores estruturais. O princpio de estabilidade do casco semelhante ao da terceira gerao da plataforma Spar, a Cell Spar. Neste caso, com aplicao em guas rasas, o casco se comporta como uma torre flutuante (Buoyant Tower), onde a seo superior do casco flutuante e a seo inferior tem lastro fixo e uma fundao que cravada no solo marinho. O comportamento da estrutura complacente com os carregamentos ambientais, o que reduz significativamente a transmisso dos esforos ambientais para a estrutura. O projeto feito de forma que o centro de gravidade esteja sempre abaixo do centro de flutuao. Desta forma, a estabilidade incondicional, ou seja, para qualquer ngulo de inclinao sempre existe momento restaurador maior do que o momento de tombamento. O mtodo de fabricao empregado o de caldeiraria para construo de cilindros (tubules) com reforos circunferenciais. Como no so empregados reforos longitudinais, o projeto e a construo so relativamente simples em comparao com outras tecnologias para guas rasas. O casco pode ser rebocado para o local de integrao com o topside pelo mtodo de floatover. A plataforma completa pode ser rebocada e instalada no local definitivo sem auxlio de guindastes, pois o sistema de fundao usa o peso prprio da estrutura ou o artifcio da suco para ser cravada. Por fim, a unidade ainda realocvel, pois o deslastramento ou bombeamento de gua na estrutura de fundao pode ser feito para remover e flutuar novamente a plataforma.

Abstract
A new Spar platform concept was developed for shallow waters. The hull consists of four or seven cells grouped together by interstitial structures. The hull stability concept is similar to the third Spa generation, the Cell Spar. In the present case, for shallow waters, the hull behaves like a compliant tower (Buoyant Tower), in which the upper portion of the hull is floating and the lower portion is ballasted and a suction can foundation is supported on the sea floor. The structure behavior is compliant with the environmental loads, which reduces significantly the load transfer from environment to the structure. The hull has unconditional stability, where the center of buoyancy is always above the center of gravity and for any tilt angle (tower inclination) the righting moment is always larger then overturning moment. The fabrication method is based on building cylindrical section with circumferential reinforcements. As no longitudinal reinforcements are adopted the design and construction is much simpler than conventional shallow water structures. The hull can be towed to the topside integration method using the float-over method. The complete platform can be towed and installed in the final location without the need of cranes, because the foundation system uses the hull ballast system and self-weight to force the can into the soil. Suction capability also can be used to force install foundation. Finally, the unit can be re-located by pumping water into the foundation can and deballasting the tanks, thus floating the platform again.

1. Introduction ______________________________ HORTON WISON DEEPWATER, Inc. 3,4,5 HORTON DO BRASIL, Ltda.
1,2

Rio Oil & Gas Expo and Conference 2012 A new configuration of shallow water platform called Buoyant Tower is presently being fabricated. This hull concept is composed of a bundle of cylindrical members called cells (see Figure 1) that are held together by horizontal and vertical structural elements located in the interstitial space between the cells. The Buoyant Tower falls in the category of a compliant tower. Many offshore structures such as the guyed tower, the compliant piled tower, the Spar, and the Tension Leg Platform are compliant structures. A compliant structure is allowed to move in response to the wave forces. This motion has the effect of greatly reducing the forces transmitted to the seafloor that are required to keep the structure on station. As well as the Cell Spar concept (Red Hawk platform), the cellular hull is easier to fabricate and has advantages regarding unconditional stability and high payload. In the seven cells design, there is a central cell with 6 additional cells around it, see Figure 2. Each cell has compartimentation tanks that provide additional safety. Because the hull has ballast in the bottom sections and void tanks in the top sections, the center of mass is below center of buoyancy and thus the tower has unconditional stability. In this configuration, the righting moment never goes negative and the safety of this concept is very attractive, even in damaged conditions. To handle damaged cases, deck load displacement and other uncertainties, the righting moment must be suitably larger than the overturning moment. Larger net righting moment designs will result in smaller tilt angles in response to wind, wave, and current forces. Design of the cell diameter is dependent on the water depth and topside weight. Different water depth and topside loads were selected for the calculation of multiple design curves. Based on historical data of hull weight for Spar concepts, an accurate initial estimation of total steel weight of the hull can be obtained. In this paper, it is presented a chart with design curves for a range of topside loads and water depths typical of shallow water fields. Nonlinear Finite Element Models are used to calculate the platform dynamics under storm conditions. Maximum values for tilt angles are obtained and presented for a case study. The Buoyant Tower is held in the desired position by a Suction Can Foundation (SCF) that is located at the bottom end of the central cell. The SCF is a large diameter and short length steel pipe that allows the hull to tilt, but prevents it to move laterally or vertically. Its behavior on the soil has been analyzed by small scale laboratory tests. Some of the parameters tested are the forces necessary to install and tilt the structure in defined angles and how these forces behave in cyclic process. Test results are compared to numerical and analytical estimations to help on the proper design of the structure. The methodology and equipment developed for construction of the buoyant tower hull are selected to take advantage of automating repetitive processes on standardized structural components. The main steel used on the hull is composed of tubular members with circumferential reinforcements, which are fabricated by rolling plates and steel frames. No longitudinal reinforcements are required on the cells cylindrical plates, thus increasing fabrication speed and reducing design complexity. In fact, the design takes advantage of the great resistance that thin walled cylindrical bodies have to resist external pressure. The hull can be towed floating horizontally to the field installation site. After completion of construction of the topside facilities, it can be dry transported to the offshore installation site in a barge with U shaped pontoons. The buoyant tower can be upended in a suitable water depth location for the deck mating of the topside. Once the complete structure is towed to installation site, the hull is ballasted down by venting air from the ballast tanks and allowing water to enter. Using the resulting increased buoyant tower weight, the SCF required soil penetration depth is achieved. Conclusions obtained indicate that the platform dynamic behavior for a storm condition is not significantly dependent on the soil stiffness. The calculated topside maximum accelerations and tilt angles are below the acceptable limits of usual design codes criteria. As the hull design can be treated separately from the SCF, the latter can be designed separately to attend local soil stiffness conditions, without affecting the main structure design.

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Figure 1: Typical Buoyant Tower

2. Hull Configuration
The hull size depends mainly on the water depth and the topside payload. Number of cells and cell diameter are defined to obtain the best solution. The BT currently under construction has 4 cells of about 8 m diameter for a water depth of about 60 m. Depending on the field and topside load, a higher number of cells is preferred (seven cells), because a greater number of cells provide additional safety due to additional compartimentation. Cell sections are defined as shown in Figure 2, where void tanks are at the top and a variable ballast tank (VB) is at bottom. Fixed ballast (FB) is pumpable slurry composed of iron ore that is installed at the bottom section of the VB. Variable ballast tank is open to sea water at a defined level above FB level. Water level inside the VB tank is controlled by compressed air, which is confined between the sea water level, cell walls and structural deck that separates the VB from the void tank. The compressed air is connected to a manifold at topside by a J tube. The J tube is flooded to provide additional safety against any possible leakage of the compressed air. All seven cells are composed of the same arrangement of tanks, being the void tanks divided by decks in three sections, improving compatimentation.

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Figure 2: Cells arrangement (left) and a single cell configuration of tanks (right)

3. Cell Design
Basically, the cell diameter is a function of water depth and topside load. Other variables are to be defined as project requirements are developed, i.e. FB level, which is usually set around 12 m height. Experience on previous designs of both BT and deepwater Spars show that a minimum of 30 % of additional payload on topside is a good margin to be adopted for righting moment reserve. In other words, this value represents the additional weight that should be installed in topside to initiate an unstable process of the hull. Figure 3 shows design curves for a range of topside load and water depths. It can be observed that the cell diameter increases with topside load, because the need for more buoyancy must be compensated by larges cells. In shallower water the hull is shorter and the buoyancy is smaller, thus requires an increase in cell diameter. In the chart, we can obtain preliminary cell design for many conditions. As an example, a 18,000 tons topside can be handled by seven cells with 10 m in diameter in a water depth of about 160 m. Heavier topsides can be considered and the hull is designed as required.

Figure 3: Cell Diameter versus Water Depth for different Payloads

4. Global Performance
The Buoyant Tower is in contact with the seafloor and pivots about a point below the seafloor that is located down about 2/3rds of the SCF penetration. All the various weights of the tower produce unstabilizing overturning moments about the pivot point while the buoyancy provides stabilizing righting moments. Environmental loads, such as wave, current and wind forces, are applied on the structure and are calculated by time domain analysis to capture various non-linear load and response effects. A Finite Element program (ABAQUS) was used to compute the motions of the buoyant tower describing 4

Rio Oil & Gas Expo and Conference 2012 the hull as a space frame assembly of elements with appropriate drag and inertia coefficients. Wave and current loads are based on Morisons equation using linear wave theory. Simulations consider large displacements and large rotations as well as load stiffening. Buoyancy forces and hydrodynamic loads are integrated over the actual submerged part of the vessel up to the instantaneous water surface. Soil stiffness is included in analysis and is represented by nonlinear springs attached to the SCF and conductors. Figure 4 shows the numerical model of the BT with 15 m of fixed ballast height. Colors are gray for fixed ballast, red for variable ballast water and yellow for air in both void tanks and variable ballast tank portion.

Figure 4: Buoyant Tower numerical model A case study was created to test the goodness of the stability factor for the Campos Basin environment of a 100 years storm condition. A seven cells tower was configured with a cell diameter of 9.8 m and a topside weight of 14,000 m tons. Water depth is 140 m and initial fixed ballast height is set to 12 m for cell diameter design. The amount of fixed ballast in the tower was systematically varied from 7 to 20 m. Figure 5 indicates that the stability factor (SF) increases from 0.15 to 0.45 as the height of fixed ballast is increased. As a result, the maximum pitch angles are reduced while SF is increased. It is always desired to have the most stable platform as possible, but there are some limits on the design. The variable ballast tank must be designed to have minimum and maximum levels that allow management of the ballast conditions during upending, tow, installation, removal and to handle damaged conditions or load displacement on deck. Assuming a good range of variable ballast levels is important to define tank decks positions and fixed ballast height.

Figure 5: Pitch Angle and Stability Factor versus Fixed Ballast Height 5

Rio Oil & Gas Expo and Conference 2012 The cellular Spar hull has been proven to be efficiently designed by the comparison of field data and numerical models results. During hurricane activity at the GOM the Red Hawk Spar motions were compared to those predicted by numerical models used for 100 yr storm (hurricane) design. Excellent results were obtained for a good approximation between results. The BT presently under discussion is designed adopting the same methodology as done before for the Spar concept, thus there is significant confidence on the results obtained. Additional model tests will be performed to calibrate force coefficients and ensure the safety of the design.

5. Foundation Design
The Buoyant Tower is held in the desired position by a Suction Can Foundation (SCF) that is located at the bottom end of the central cell. During the installation process, this can is forced into the seafloor. The necessary forces can be generated by ballasting some of the tanks in the tower and allowing the tower weight to push the can in and/or by a suction embedment force generated by lowering the water pressure inside the SCF. Small scale tests are being conducted at the University of Texas at Austin to analyze the mechanical behavior of the SCF at installation, tilt movements and other effects. Different soil conditions are tested and results obtained so far shows that the SCF behaves as expected. The SCF penetration depth and diameter can be managed during design to obtain minimum required resistance during installation, operation and relocation/removal phases. The methods and equations adopted for design are compared and validated with test results, which include the monitoring of load, weight, pressure, displacement and angles. Typically, the SCF is designed with the same diameter of the central cell and a penetration depth slightly smaller than the diameter. As the penetration is shallow compared to typical suction and driven piles, the soil portion to be analyzed is relatively small and the design effort is relatively simple. If necessary, increase in foundation resistance can be done by oversizing the SCF in terms of the diameter of the affected zone on the soil.

6. Construction Method
One of the advantages of the BT concept is the less complicated hull design, which facilitates the process of detailed engineering and building. Cells are tubular steel structures with circumferential reinforcements and flat decks. Cells that can be constructed in a repetitive method for assemble. Smaller sections of cells (about 20 m) are built sequentially. These sections are assembled to build each of the tanks. Figure 6 shows an internal view of a cell and a section of hull of the BT presently under construction at Wison Offshore, China, for BPZ Energy. All cells are grouped together with interstitial plated structures. Figure 7 shows final outfitting of the Red Hawk Spar, which design if very similar to a BT.

Figure 6: Red Hawk Spar internal tank view (left) and assembled tank sections of BPZ BT (right)

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Figure 7: Grouped Cells during outfitting of Red Hawk Spar (right)

7. Installation Method
When all work associated with the topside facility, buoyant tower hull and transport barge is completed, the hull and topside are prepared for load out to a barge. One barge can be used for all operations. The hull can be loaded on the barge and then offloaded in the horizontal position. The same barge is then used for transportation of the topside. A convenient location with minimum water depth required for upending of the hull is adopted. The upending process is initiated by removing plugs from the variable ballast tanks of the hull, thus initiating a flooding process. Ballast operations are performed to position the hull with precise freeboard for topside installation. A crane barge or the float-over operation can be adopted to integrate the parts. Once the platform is complete, it can be towed to the final installation site and ballasting operations can be performed to force the SCF into the seafloor. Specifically for the BPZ Energys Buoyant Tower, there have been developed installation and fabrication procedures, as well as technical reports and calculations.

8. Conclusions
Spar platforms are currently at the 3rd design generation. Last improvements include fabrication issues. The cellular concept of floating hull can be fabricated in a conventional shipyard. Now, a shallow water platform called Buoyant Tower is designed using the same hull concept of the Cell Spar, which is fast to be build and provides an unconditionally stable hull. Large number of tanks (compartimentation) increases buoyancy safety regarding damages. Additional advantages are self-installation method and relocation possibility. Numerical simulation results show that the tower stability are below recommended values by applicable codes. Additional model tests will be performed to calibrate the coefficients used on motion calculations, although the same methodology of Spar design is being adopted, which is proven to be efficient as demonstrated before for Red Hawk Spar.

9. References
HOGAN, J.; KUURI, J.; MAHER, J. Red Hawk Cell Spar Hull Fabrication. OTC 17333. Offshore Technology Conference, Houston, TX, USA. 2005. SAMPATH, A.; MAHER, J.; GUPTA, H.; TULE, J.; LAMEY, M. Full Scale Data Comparison for the Red Hawk Cell Spar in Hurricane Rita and Loop Current Ulysses. Deep Offshore Technology Conference & Exhibition. Houston, TX, USA, 2006. Peru Buoyant Tower Offshore Production Platform Nears Delivery. Offshore Magazine. Accessed may 2012. http://www.offshore-mag.com/articles/2012/05/peru-buoyant-tower-offshore-production.html. First Shallow Water Buoyant Tower Under Construction. Offshore Industry. Accessed may 2012. http://www.offshore-industry.eu/offshore_v2/?p=6788