The offshore renewables industry may be better served by new bespoke design guidelines than by automatic adoption of recommended practices developed for oil and gas infrastructure: A recommendation illustrated by subsea cable design

Terry Griffiths, Scott Draper, Liang Cheng, Hongwei An, Marie Lise Schläppy, Antonino Fogliani, David White, Stuart Noble, Daniel Coles, Fraser Johnson, Bryan Thurstan, Yunfei Teng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Introduction: There is an emerging need for the offshore renewable industry to have their own bespoke design guidelines because the associated projects and offshore facilities differ in fundamental ways to oil and gas facilities. Offshore renewable energy (ORE) facilities have already surpassed the numbers of installed facilities in the oil and gas industry by an order of magnitude and demand is forecast to continue growing exponentially. In addition ORE facilities often have different response characteristics and limit states or failure modes as well as profoundly different risk and consequence profiles given they are generally uncrewed and do not contain explosive hydrocarbon fluids which might be released into the environment. Therefore, the purpose of this paper is to advocate for licensing bodies and regulators (such as the various national PEL 114 committees) to challenge the process of automatic adoption of oil and gas design processes, while pushing for offshore renewables to be treated differently, when appropriate, with more relevant and applicable guidance. Methods: To support this argument we present new bespoke design guidance developed for subsea cables based on specific modes of cable behaviour, which often differ from pipelines. We also show worked examples from recent project experience. The results from on-bottom stability analyses of a set of cables are compared between conventional oil and gas guidance following DNV-RP-F109 versus the stability using cable-optimised approaches. Results: The outcomes from the ‘conventional’ oil and gas results are not simply biased compared to cable-optimised design methods, with a trend of being either conservative or unconservative. Instead, the results of the two methods are very poorly correlated. This shows that the oil and gas approach isn't simply biased when applied to cables, but is instead unreliable because it doesn't capture the underlying failure conditions. These analytical comparisons are supported by field observation - the ocean doesn't lie, and makes short work of any anthropogenic structures which are designed with inadequate appreciation of the real world conditions. Discussion: To support the rapid growth of ORE, we should therefore actively pursue opportunities to rewrite the design rules and standards, so that they better support the specific requirements of ORE infrastructure, rather than legacy oil and gas structures. With more appropriate design practices, we can accelerate the roll out of ORE to meet net zero, and mitigate the climate crisis.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1030665
JournalFrontiers in Marine Science
Volume10
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2023

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