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OTC 7452 Structural and Installation Design of Plate Foundations for Jackets
?vlorten Baerheim, Statoil A/S
Copyright 1994, Offshore Technology Conference This paper was presented at !he 26th Annual OTC in Houston, Texas, U.S.A., 2-5 May 199-4, This paper was selected for presentation by the OTC Program Committee following review of information mntained In an abstract .$ubmltted by the author(s). Contents of the paper, as PrW3ntad, have nti been reviewed by the Offshore Technology Conference and are subject to correction by the author(s). The material, es presented, does not necessarily reflect any position of the Offshore Technology Conference or ite offfcers. Permission to copy Is restricted to an abstract of not more than 300 words. Illustrations may not be copied. The abstract should contain mnsplcuous acknowledgment of where end by whom the paper Is presented.

ABSTRACT A new foundation system for offshore steel jackets has been developed by Statoil. The method is called plate foundations and it replaces the use of traditionally piled foundations. The plate foundation consists of a circular plate placed below each jacket leg. The plate is surrounded by a vertical skirt penetrating the sea bed. The plate foundation acts in principle as a gravity foundation. Due to the skirts, however, the foundation has a considerable capacity for tension loading even for sandy soil conditions. The tension capacity is due to high suction pressures as the tension loads tries to pull the plate out of the sea bed. This paper describes the development of the plate foundations, discusses the design and installation aspects of the foundations and describes typical mechanical equipment needed for the foundations.

INTRODUCTION Plate foundations are in principle not new for supporting offshore steel structures. The Maureen steel gravity platform stands on similar foundations and jack-up platforms stand on either individual spud-cans or large mats. Typical for both these solutions are that they are not designed to support tension loads. Even though the Maureen platform had skirts for capacity against sliding, the main difference between the gravity foundations and the plate foundations is the design of the skirts to resist uplift loads. Experiences from concrete gravity platforms, and in particular the Gullfaks C structure with 22 metres deep skirts, have provided valuable background for the design of the skirts, the load transfer mechanisms and the planning of the installation operations.


3). The favorable results of the tests enabled the project team to decide that plate foundations were to be the basis for the Europipe jacket design. The jacket is presently under fabrication and will be installed in the summer of 1994. The sea bed consisted also in this case of dense hard sand. The Europipe structure is a riser jacket. The benefits of the plate foundations for other developments were also demonstrated in this period. The geotechnical design is a very important factor of the plate foundations. It was. where a treatment platform were to be installed in 83 metres water depth. Little information was found on suction capacity. but that there were still some geotechnical aspects that were uncertain.4 by 44. and the sea bed consist of dense and hard sand. One such example was the Sleipner Vest development. debatable if a sand could develop any suction loads at all to resist even a moderate uplift force. 4) and determine typicaI area requirements and skirt depth for the foundations. 1. The initial investigations of the Veslefrikk jacket involved cIay soils where the suction load is easier understandable. Due to the uncertainties concerning the suction capacity of the sand. which is not a uncommon problem in offshore installations. but based on what was available the necessary tension capacity was proven. The development of design procedures and offshore and onshore test programs to develop the technology are described in more detail in ref. It should be noted that both these jackets does not have well conductors. The tests were done at the end of 1991 at both the Sleipner Vest treatment platform site and at the Europipe jacket site. The water depth in the area is 70 metres. The initial work was spent on developing typical structural configurations (ref. Intuitively it was expected that the mudmats would be able to support some tension load. however. THE EUROPIPE JACKET AND ITS PLATE FOUNDATIONS The Europipe jacket is a four legged jacket with cross face bracing and diamond bracing in the horizontal levels. The top and bottom dimensions of the jacket are 22 by 22 metres and 44. The plate foundations for the Europipe jacket will therefore form the basis for this paper. are in moderate water depth and have a relatively heavy topsides. Based on the realisation about suction capacity of mudmats and reoccurring pile driving problems. it was felt that the foundations for offshore jackets could be simplified and improved. The installation of the Veslefrikk jacket was also affected by pile driving problems.4 314 . Conceptual studies indicated that there were potential cost savings in using plate foundations. Thus the work on developing the plate foundations started at the end of 1989. The development of the plate foundations were given a boost when it was included alongside a traditional pile design in the Europipe 16/11 E jacket development conceptual study in 1990. it was decided that Statoil would perform tests offshore to investigate the suction aspects of sand as well as penetration resistance of steel skirts in hard sands.2 Structural and Installation Design of Plate Foundations for Jackets OF THE PLATE OTC 7452 DEVELOPMENT FOUNDATIONS Statoil fwst investigated the ability of a gravity foundation in steel jackets to support tension loading for the Veslefrikk jacket installed in 1989. The mudmats on the jacket were rather large due to soft seabed conditions. This results in relatively small uplift forces in the foundations under extreme storm loading. and they had one metre deep skirts for resistance against sliding. The tests are further discussed by Baerheim and Tjelta (ref. The slender jacket in 175 metres water depth had a problem with on-bottom stability during the installation.

The height varies since the foundation plate is at a slope. A typical plate is shown in figure 2. The plates inside the vertical skirts are sloping slightly with respect to the sea bed to ease the grout flow during under-plate grouting after the installation of the jacket.OTC 7452 Morten Bzn-heim 3 metres respectively. The lift weight of the jacket is some 4750 tonnes including lifting equipment. The jacket is shown in figure 1. Two piles per leg of 84” diameter and some 70 metres penetration would be needed for a traditional piled foundation. The weight of each foundation plate with skirts is some 215 tonnes. The height of the beams are two metres. The LRFD format is therefore recommended for the design of plate foundations. The jacket is designed by Aker Engineering A/S in Oslo and it is fabricated by Aker Verdal A/S.ms peaks. Further savings are expected in the installation. the total piled foundation weight would be in the range of 2200 tonnes. STRUCTURAL DESIGN OF PLATE FOUNDATIONS The design of the plate foundations is mainly based on the following load conditions: Ultimate strength for a combination of axial load.1 metres. High suction loads inside the skirt for a rapid uplift just before touchdown on the sea bed during installation. Each of the plate foundations of the Europipe jacket have a diameter of 12 metres and skirt depth of 6. there is still a considerable cost saving in fabrication alone. Fatigue strength with due consideration for local st.7 to 7. These design conditions will be discussed in the following based on the Europipe foundation plates. It should be noted that the only the upper part of the skirt is welded on to the plate at the time of the picture. For larger diameter plates with deep skirts it maybe necessary to equip the skirts with longitudinal stiffeners to give additional strength against buckling.e. High suction loads during penetration into the sea bed. Adding the weight of the pile sleeves and mudmats. The jacket supports a deck of 5200 tonnes. This has been chosen as the solution for the Sleipner Vest treatment platform jacket. The jacket will be lift installed by the M7000 dual crane lift vessel. There might therefore be designs where the LRFD format give high tension loads while a working stress format gives only compressive loads or very small tension loads. Even allowing for the comparatively cheap welding of piles. where the skirt diameter is 15 metres. It will be lifted by both cranes simultaneously and upended directly p~y submerged in water. Ballast will not be filled into the structure during the upending or placement on the sea bed. The LRFD format is particularly onerous for the tension load case since wave loads are factored while jacket and deck self weight have a load factor of unity. The ultimate strength of the plate foundations takes into account both maximum and minimum (i. giving a to-ti weight of the foundation system of 860 tonnes. tension) load cases. Both the skirts and the foundation plates have wall thickness of 40 mm. Each of the plates are stiffened by sixteen beams extending radially out from the jacket leg. Scraping of the skirt on the sea bed due to horizontal motions during the installation. 315 . Pictures of a plate under fabrication is shown in figure 3. shear and moment for the in-place conditions. The design is done in accordance with NPD regulations for fixed offshore structures. which is based on a LRFD (Load and Resistance Factor Design) format.

Non-linear analysis of the skirts have shown that the Europipe skirts can withstand a suction pressure of at least 300 kl?a. A maximum suction of 250 kpa may at this stage be allowed for a short duration of time. In practice this have little effect on the jacket design. The skirts am strong enough also to resist this load. as illustrated in fig 4. thereby reducing the axial load in the skirt.4 Structural and Installation Design of Plate Foundations for Jackets OTC 7452 The structural design of the plate with stiffeners must take bending moments from jacket deflections into account in addition to the axial and shear loading. The analysis showed that the jacket has a tendency to oscillate with a centre of rotation close to the lower part of the jacket. New test results indicate a signitlcant higher tension capacity in the skirts than previously assumed. the elliptical buckling shape unrealistic. and initial deflections were introduced to drive this buckling mode that would be typical for a long pipe. High suction loads inside the skirt compartments may occur during the installation if the jacket is lifted quickly upwards (e. The Europipe structure have significant tension loads in the foundations. It will therefore depend on penetration depth. The grout will also reduce the tension loads in the foundations. due to lift vessel motions) from a position with the skirts just above the sea bed. The depth of the skirts is designed by the resistance to tension loading. Uneven settlement of the individual plate foundations is also a load condition that need to be taken into account. The size of the moment will depend on the stiffness of the soil. 316 . If the penetration operation is stopped for a period. it is expected that a higher suction is needed to restart the penetration. has been analysed by Maritime Research Institute Netherlands (MARIN) using the LIFSIM program. The top of the plates will be covered with a thick layer of grout after the installation of the jacket to protect the plate against falling objects and to seal off any penetrations or valves in the plates that are not closed. The skirt depth for similar soil conditions and loading as the Europipe jacket can in the future be expected to be shorter than for the Europipe jacket. It is important that the skirts are kept deep enough to ensure that scouring around the foundations does not reduce the required shear capacity. which is equal to a downwards acting load on the foundation plate of 3456 t per plate. The relatively short skirt compared to the large diameter and the fmity at the plate made. Near the end of the penetration the highest allowable suction is limited to some 100 kpa. of the plate foundations. Loads on the plate foundations from jacket or lift vessel motions will be considerable smaller than this. This is contrary to other crane upended jackets which have a tendency to have the centre of rotation close to the water line. The sea bed will at this depth give a certain amount of restraint against buckling. The end bearing of the skirt is also small due to the suction pressure gradients around the skirt tip. The failure mode for the skirts was longitudinal buckling for the high suction load.g. The buckets where later reduced when the tension capacity of the soil were veriiled. The skirt buckled with from 6 to 15 ripples along the circumference. In this case the tip of the skirts will be unrestrained in the horizontal direction. In the initial phase of the design the skirts were therefore extended upwards to form “buckets” for the placement of solid ballast. The axial load has therefore little effect on the buckling load. as shown in figure 5. The motions of the jacket in the upended position just above the sea bed. however. and hence added mass. The reason for this is believed to be the weight and large volume. An elliptical buckling shape would give the lowest buckling strength. The highest suction load that is allowed during the penetration is determined based on soil liquefaction on the inside of the skirt.

15 metres. Expected self penetration for the Europipe jacket is some 0. The forces on the skirts as the jackets touches the sea bed during the lowering down are hence also reduced. Lowering and initial self penetration of the skirts. and it is expected that “rabbit holes” The mechanical equipment needed to install the jacket with plate fo&dation consist of the following: Two hatches per plate with a diameter of 0. With the ample strength of the skirts. The jacket should at this stage have as much reserve buoyancy as possible. These are shown schematically in figure 6. Water from inside the skirts will escape through the hatches in the plates. it appears to be fully feasible to reposition the jacket if the penetration has not been initiated.5 metres. This means in practise that a considerable corrosion allowance is built into the design of the skirts.The behaviourof the jacket with its Iowcentre of rotation will reduce the horizontal at the bottom of the jacket. This loading was not critical for the skirt. Valves for buoyancy control of the two leg compartments per leg. Control rooms and power packs on the top of the heavy lift vessel to control the penetration operations. Two hydraulically operated pumps per leg. INSTALLATION OF JACKETS WITH PLATE FOUNDATIONS The actual installation of the plate foundations is assumed to start when the jacket is suspended by the crane in a hover position a few metres above the sea bed. The pumps are placed 317 . The assumed load of 42 tonnes corresponds to the maximum possible horizontal resistance from the seabed soil on one skirt if the skirt is penetrated 0. The requirement for strength in the in-place conditions would allow for a thinner skirt. The penetration will be rather rapid. Remote operated hydraulic oil distribution system for the pumps at the top of the jacket to ensure easy switch-over from operation of one pump to another. The thickness of the skirts is designed by the installation conditions. Two hydraulic line and electric cable umbilicals extending from the heavy lift vessel over to the top of the jacket. however. of which one is spare. as shown in figure 6. Since the installation of the Europipe jacket represents a fiist for plate found-ations~ the mechanical equipment has a high level of redundancy. Electricrdly controlled oil distribution system at the top of the jacket for valve control. The effect of the skirts scraping the sea bed due to horizontal motions has been investigated by assuming a horizontal load acting on the skirt tip distributed around a part of the circumference. MECHANICAL EQUIPMENT FOUNDATIONS FOR PLATE just above the lower leg compartment at elevation .72 metres.8 metres for water escape during the self penetration of the skirts. The valves are hydraulically operated. It was at an early stage considered that the jacket with plate foundations would be difficult to re-position if it was placed out of tolerance on the sea bed. These will be closed before the suction penetration starts. Grouting system at each plate foundation for grout distribution inside the skirt and above the plate. The level of redundancy and control is expected to be reduced for future jacket installations with plate foundations. It is also a trend to place the pumps directly on top of the foundation plates to decouple the leg ballast and suction system. The installation can be divided into four stages: 1.

The reduced stress levels will allow the jack-up to operate in deeper water or worse environmental conditioned than initially covered in the design. The systems cover the following measurements: Measurement of forces in leg and braces around two plates. FURTHER USE OF PLATE FOUNDATIONS Plate foundations will also be used on the Sleipner Vest Treatment platform due to be installed in the summer of 1996. This jacket is similar to the Europipe jacket in that it is in similar water depths. INSTRUMENTATION JACKET Since the Europipe jacket is the fiit jacket with plate foundations. ON THE EUROPIPE 3. Verticality of the jacket may be adjusted by adjusting the flow of water into the buoyancy chambers. the concept open for alternative jacket installation methods where the use of large crane vessels can be avoided. as described in ref. The additional weight of water will result in a further slow and well controlled settlement with water inside the skirts still escaping through the hatches.h-tsand the lower compartment in the legs. which results in a markedfleduction in the stress levels in the structure. After full penetration any remaining volume underneath the skirts will be pumped full of grout to ensure a direct load transfer between the plates and the soil. 4. The top of the plate will also be covered with grout. The technology of skirted foundations have also a para. Installation experience from the Europipe jacket during the summer of 1994 is expected to result in a significant sirnpliilcation of the mechanical equipment and instrumentation installed on the platform. The skirt technology will in this instance provide the spud-can with a clearly defined restraint against rotation at the sea bed. the jacket and in particular the plates are extensively instrumented.6 Structural and Installation Design of Plate Foundations for Jackets may form under the skirt tip due to water not escaping rapidly enough through the hatches. The level of the jacket will during the penetration be monitored carefully and adjusted by adjusting the discharge rate of the pumps to ensure a vertical jacket at the end of the penetration. Typical use is the installation of small wellhead platforms in shallow water using jack-up platforms.1 metres. OTC 7452 Measurement of pore and earth pressure.I1eI in jack-up spud-cans equipped with skirts. Penetration after ballasting of the Europipe jacket is expected to be 0. have relatively high topsides load and stands on a strong sandy sea bed. The hatches will be closed by a ROV before the suction penetration starts. Inclination measurements during penetration. 6. Both a temporary system to monitor the penetration activities and a permanent system for monitoring structural and geotechnical behaviour is installed. The slow penetration ensures that “rabbit holes” are not formed under the skirt tip. 2. Measurement of soil heave inside the skirts during penetration. SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS The plate foundations have proven themselves to be feasible and economically attractive alternatives to piled foundations.7 to 1. Opening of all available buoyancy chambers for ballasting. Measurement of penetration depth during the penetration operations. 318 . Flow measurement through the pumps. Measurement of water pressure inside the sk. Since the plate foundations avoids the use of large pile hammers. Suction penetration by pumping water out from underneath the skirts.

I.—. Baerheim.: “Design and Installation of the Veslefi-ikk Jacket”. Rognlien.. OTC 7379.. 3. i. I. Eriksen.OTC 7452 Morten Baxheim 7 Baerheim. and Baerheim. Houston.: “Effect of foundation fixity on jack-up behaviour” Jack-up conference. M. T. 5. ISOPE-91. 4.: “Caisson foundations for jacket structures”.. OTC 6307. B.. K. Tjelta.P. and Tjelta.: “Foundation Plates for Offshore Jackets”. M. and Eriksen. I._-__~l 319 . T. 6. T. ISOPE San Francisco 1992.: “Skirt-plate Foundations for Offshore Jackets”. London September 1993. n n u . Baerheim. M. Sparrevik. K. M. 2. Houston May 1990. Statoil report 1990.: “Geotechnical aspects of the bucket foundations replacing piles for the Europipe 16/1 1-E jacket”. P. May 1994. -J Figure 1 The Europipe jacket. R-EFERENCES 1. Fossan. Nystr@m.

7------. . 4 Figure 2 Typical geometry of a plate foundation. -ZQQQL!Y MUDLINE ~.! k--. 67. -w ‘ Figure 3a Plate foundation under fabrication seen from the top.8 Structural and Installation Design of Plate Foundations for Jackets OTC 7452 10000 FEL.HAN . . (Photo T.! .. Albrechtsen) ..! . EL..00+3 ( $$ ~. . --L---’. . --‘--L’-1---’ !3 ~ ---’-. .

The 6 m deep skirt is not installed below the plate. (Photo T.OTC 7452 Morten Barheim 9 Figure 3b Plate seen from below. 321 . Albrechtsen) \t--Y T’” V I + ‘4 Figure 4 Analysis model for motion analysis.

..... ........ .. / WEIGHT PENETRATION Figure 6 Valve and pump layout for one leg.. ... --n+ Sack.OPEN Remoteoperatedvalve.OPEN ROV operatedWIW.... ... . Valve position for filling of buoyancy compartments (item 2 on page 6).upMe w +- Pump // // // A RW opemtedvalve. CLOSE Remoteoperatedvalve....10 Structural and Installation Design of Plate Foundations for Jackets OTC 7452 Figure 5 Buckled shape of the skirt.. 322 .. I A*+A .CLOSE Dlretilonforflewcdwater ...