Proceedings of the Tenth (2000) International Offshore and Polar Engineering Conference Seattle, USA, May 28-June 2, 2000

Copyright © 2000 by The International Society of Offshore and Polar Engineers
I S B N 1-880653-46-X (Set); I S B N 1-880653-50-8 (Vol. IV); I S S N 1098-6189 (Set)

Mooring System Design Considerations for FPSOs
Ken Huang American Bureau of Shipping Houston, TX, U S A

ABSTRACT This paper identifies the critical issues related to mooring systems designed for ship-shaped vessels, such as the Floating Production, Storage and Offloading units (FPSOs), in general and under the effects of Revolving Tropical Storms (RTS) in particular. FPSOs have been employed worldwide as an economic solution for the development of offshore oil and gas. Most current applications are in relatively benign environmental areas, such as Southeast Asia, West Africa and Offshore Brazil near the Equator. Some applications are in temperate latitudes, e.g. the North Sea, in which the design events are winter storms. Winter storms have a limiting wind speed of around 100-mph and are more predictable. In contrast, RTSs, i.e. Hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM) and Typhoons in the South China Sea (SCS), can evolve rapidly from Category 1 with sustained wind speeds of just over 74 mph to Category 5 with wind speeds over 155 mph. The much more unpredictable nature of tropical cyclones and the consequences of mooring failure causing possible property loss and environmental damage have prompted the concern of regulatory bodies for utilizing FPSOs in the GOM. This paper addresses design options for FPSO mooring systems. Firstly, the design environmental conditions of winds, currents and waves encountered in GOM and SCS are discussed. Secondly, mooring design issues and options are outlined. Finally, advantages and possible drawbacks of proposed options are highlighted, it is hoped that suggestions in the paper will assist the designer in enhancing the reliability of FPSO mooring systems.

1. INTRODUCTION Floating Production, Storage and Offloading units (FPSOs) have been employed worldwide as an economic solution for the development of offshore oil and gas. Most of the applications are conversions of ocean-going oil tankers in relatively benign environmental areas, such as Southeast Asia, West Africa and Offshore Brazil near the Equator. Some applications are in temperate latitudes, such as the North Sea, in which the design events are winter storms. Only a few FPSOs are used in the tropical cyclone prone areas of the South China Sea and Offshore Northwestern Australia. As operators are considering using FPSOs for the development of deep water leases in the Gulf of Mexico, the effect of hurricanes on the station-keeping capability of a mooring system is becoming a major concern of regulatory bodies. The consequences of a mooring system failure for an FPSO could involve collisions of an FPSO with adjacent offshore installations and might result in major oil spills. This risk is considered high on possible property loss with grave environmental impact. The ship-shaped vessels used as FPSOs generally have the advantages of large oil storage capacity and high stability margin. The vessel motions, however, in both wave energy spectral period range (3-25 seconds) and slowly varying period range (>50 seconds) are inevitably large due to the excessive water plane area of a ship-shaped vessel. In addition, the high length-to-beam ratio of a ship-shaped vessel necessitates the vessel be able to weathervane into the prevailing environmental loads due to wind, current and waves in order to minimize the loading on the mooring system. Therefore, the critical design issues of a mooring system for an FPSO are: • Line dynamics due to six degrees of freedom wave frequency vessel motions (in surge, sway, heave, roll, pitch and yaw), Low frequency vessel motions in surge, sway and yaw, and Effects of non-collinear environments of wind, current and waves on the responses of the vessel and its mooring system.

KEYWORDS: FPSO, Mooring System, Revolving Tropical Storm, Line Dynamics, Reliability, and Progressive Failure.

• •


Subsequently. where FPSOs are anticipated. To keep the natural periods in pitch and roll longer than the design wave spectral peak period is also desirable for reducing wave frequency motions of an FPSO. the total vessel offset and motions consist of three components: . In selecting the vessel size it is important to keep the natural periods in surge and sway for the total system (vessel with its mooring system) longer than at least three times the design wave spectral peak period.0 3. pitch and yaw will define the hydrostatics and motion response characteristics. VESSEL OFFSETS AND DESIGN PRETENSIONS Under the design environmental conditions of wind. can evolve rapidly from Category 1 with sustained wind speeds of just over 74 mph (64 knots) to Category 5 with wind speeds over 155 mph (135 knots). In contrast. current and waves. called Hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM) or Typhoons in the South China Sea (SCS). In addition. Bilge keels have. 3. This effect of wave period range on mooring line tensions is more profound in shallow water because the mooring system becomes stiffer. Area: G OM SCS NNS 2. period design wind speeds of tropical cyclones in GOM and SCS are much higher than that of a winter storm in NNS. on occasion. Natural periods of a vessel with its mooring system will also dictate vessel motion responses. Table 1 gives typical design environmental criteria for some geographic areas. DESIGN E N V I R O N M E N T A L CRITERIA Table 1: Typical Design Environmental Criteria In selecting the design environmental criteria for a vessel allowed to weathervane. line configuration and anchoring point. For a given design significant wave height. current and waves shall be investigated in order to define the worst loading case. The winter storm systems. The hull shape and geometry of a vessel together with its mass properties in terms of the center of gravity location and radii of gyration in roll. This will minimise the possible dynamic amplification of total system responses under the effects of wave frequency energy in the period range of 3 to 25 seconds. however. the 100-year return 320 The vessel size is usually dictated by the oil storage capacity and the topside layout as the functional requirements of an offshore project. difficult to achieve. In most cases. revolving tropical storms. such as those occurring in the Northern North Sea (NNS) and Offshore Eastern Canada. The proposed design options can reduce the possibility of progressive failure of a mooring system under extreme design events. As shown in this table. are much more predictable. special attention is to be given to the noncollinear environments of wind. Wave Ht. Peak Period (Feet) (Second) 40 13-18 44 13-20 53 15-22 Current (Knots) 3. The physical dimensions of a vessel and its general arrangement of deck and hull will in turn determine the wind. current and waves and the design wave period range. mooring pattern. the lowest design wave period in the design range may produce 60% to 80% higher mooring line tension than that of the longest design wave period. turret location. Wind (Knots) 108 127 87 Sig. design pretension. there are options in the selection of vessel size. 4. VESSEL DESIGN CHARACTERISTICS Figure 1: Major Oil Producing Offshore Areas of the world There are two basic design environmental phenomena to be considered in different geographic areas: • • Winter storms. The mooring system of an FPSO is usually designed to survive in a 100-year return period event in a combination of wind. The design wave heights of winter storms can be higher than those of tropical cyclones because the winter storm duration is usually much longer than that of the swiftly moving tropical cyclones. the wave-induced vessel motion responses are also very sensitive to wave directions relative to the vessel and the design wave periods. current and wave forces and moments acting on the vessel. l-Min. been introduced to dampen roll and pitch motions. They usually have a long duration and a large fetch area. and Revolving tropical storms.0 4.From the designer's point of view. Figure 1 shows major oil producing offshore areas of the world. The high uncertainty of tropical cyclones requires a mooring system designed with redundancy to prevent its progressive failure if the 100-year return period design environmental criteria are exceeded. This is due to the sensitivity of the environmental mean loads to the directionality of environments off the bow for a ship-shaped FPSO vessel with a large length-to-beam ratio. these vessel design characteristics will be used to determine the mooring system responses under the design environmental conditions.0 Geo. current and waves for a specific project site. are shorter in duration and smaller in fetch area. This in turn will enhance the reliability of a mooring system designed for FPSOs operating in geographic areas with tropical environments. but with a limiting wind speed rarely exceeding 100 mph (87 knots). The intensity of tropical cyclones. Non-collinear environments of wind. this is. however.

The higher the design pretension and the mooring system stiffness the smaller the vessel offset will be. The turret structure on an FPSO is fixed in space to the seabed by the mooring system. current and wave drift force and yaw moment coefficients at various vessel headings. The total line tension will be approximately 20% higher for the turret located at or near the bow as compared with a turret location of about one third of the vessel length from the bow as shown in Figure 2 below. Alternatively. • The higher value of the above two combinations will be used as the design value. but also time-dependent low frequency vessel forces and damping due to wind. both ABS (ABS. however. In the above analytical approach. or Combination 2: mean + maximum significant wave-frequency values. however. low frequency and wave frequency tensions according to industry practice. both vessel/mooring system and line dynamic analyses are to be performed. The mooring system stiffness can be adjusted by varying the initial design pretension of a mooring system under no environmental loading. The force and yaw moment coefficients for wind. 321 (5) Perform line dynamic analysis to derive dynamic line tensions due to six degree-of-freedom wave frequency vessel motions. a steady state "mean" vessel heading under the design non-collinear environment is usually assumed for both frequency and time domain line dynamic analyses. and Wave frequency motions due to first order wave excitations. At the same time. mooring systems. and waves. more pitchinduced vertical motions can be expected at the top of a mooring line. Following API's recommended practice (API. 1996) propose the following combinations for the total vessel offset and mooring line tensions: • Combination 1: mean + significant low-frequency + maximum wave-frequency values. current and waves are changing with the instantaneous vessel headings. If flexible risers. the easier it becomes for the vessel to weathervane. are used. 6. The large vertical motions at the turret location will increase line dynamic tensions. the maximum total line tension is also reduced. With reduced design pretensions. For turret moored FPSOs weathervaning into prevailing environments. ANALYTICAL PROCEDURES For FPSO mooring systems. 1996). In general. such as lazy-s shaped risers. Model tests can be used to verify analytical results of mooring responses especially under non-collinear environments. 2) 3) There are mooring line tensions corresponding to each of these vessel-offset positions. TURRET LOCATION AND VESSEL WEATHERVANING (4) Find mooring line tensions due to low frequency vessel motions quasi-statically. there are no steady state "mean" loads acting on the vessel. and using these to update the mean loads on the vessel at each time step. the frequency domain approach is used in conceptual and preliminary stages of mooring design and evaluation because of its efficiency. however. current. 2000) and DnV (DnV. current and waves. headings and motions. A simplified method of line dynamic mooring analysis is outlined in six steps: (1) Calculate static environmental mean forces and yaw moments acting on the vessel. especially when analysed under non-collinear environments. More research and development work is required in this area. This will greatly enhance the reliability of a mooring system under a severe tropical storm.1) Mean steady offset and equilibrium vessel heading due to static mean forces and yaw moment of wind. which have linear mooring responses. much larger vessel offsets can be allowed with reduced design pretensions. (2) Find the resulting static equilibrium vessel position and heading with associated mean mooring line tensions. The scenario of non-collinear environments can be more accurately simulated using a time domain approach in system analysis. It is important to accurately predict not only instantaneous mean loads on the vessel. The farther the turret is located away from the midship. however. Mooring lines are attached to a turntable at the turret structure to allow the vessel to weathervane. and (6) Combine mean. the vessel can weathervane passively by itself without thruster assistance. It is important to note that the above analytical procedures were developed mainly for conventional semisubmersible-type . The mean offset and low frequency motions are a function of the mooring system stiffness. For yawsensitive ship-shaped vessels such as turret moored FPSOs. The unnecessarily high design pretension. The line dynamic analysis can be performed in either frequency domain or time domain. The time domain approach is recommended for the final design. a fully coupled dynamic analysis in time domain for mooring system responses with line dynamics will become the state-of-the-art analytical approach. low-frequency + 5. the design pretensions can be reduced before the evacuation of personnel on board an FPSO. (3) Determine low frequency vessel motions at the static equilibrium vessel position and heading. the analytical procedure must be capable of incorporating wind. In order to accurately predict vessel responses at each time step. Therefore. The turret location will determine the ease of weathervaning capability of a vessel into the prevailing environment. For the turret located at or near the bow. will impose larger total line tension and thus result in lower safety factors for a mooring design. the closer the turret is placed to the bow. The turret structure can be located at any position between the bow and the midship. Low frequency motions due to slowly-varying wind and wave drift forces. Usually the riser design will dictate the vessel offset criteria for the mooring system design. the nonlinearities involved make these systems more difficult to manage with the traditional procedures.

As shown in Figure 2. an all chain system can be used. shown in Figure 4. MOORING PATTERN 8.P. This is due to the more uniform environmental loading acting on a semisubmersible from any headings relative to the vessel. conventional mooring lines generally consist of the combination of chain and wnre rope. ~m // m 3 ( • \ Figure 4: Equally Spread Mooring Pattern As opposed to the equally spread mooring pattern. is limited by the physical space of a turret. o . the maximum line tension is approximately 20% lower and the maximum offset is about 5% less under the worst one-line damaged condition. when the turret is located at about one third of the vessel length from the bow. Figure 5 shows a typical mooring line configuration in shallow water. Stern Thrusters Figure 2: General Arrangement of an FPSO Bow Thruster Figure 3: Grouped Mooring Pattern In Norway it is preferred to have living quarters located upwind of the process plant. the turret has to be located at or near the bow so that the vessel can weathervane passively without thruster assistance. The layout of mooring lines may pose interference concern with the risers. which will be placed through the turret. Therefore. To save cost the grounded portion may be replaced with lighter wire rope for a permanent mooring system. 2O m A. This design option of mooring line configuration will be further discussed in Section 8. The line length is used to provide the elasticity required for stretches. thrusters and control/monitoring systems for thruster assistance. 322 . There is no need to weathervane a semisubmersible into the least loading direction. Introducing a submersible buoy along a mooring line near the turret location can reduce the dynamic amplification of line tensions due to large vertical motions at the bow turret location..Flare Living Quarters .F. Hence. The long mooring line length is required in shallow water. Submersible buoys and/or clump weights may be introduced along a mooring line for various design considerations. To alleviate this concern a grouped mooring patttern as shown in Figure 3 has been proposed. This will greatly enhance the reliability of a mooring system designed for an FPSO. personnel are usually evacuated before a severe tropical storm reaches the project site. For the mooring line configuration. The extra line length is not required for preventing the uplift force at the anchor position. otherwise the mooring line will become too stiff to take large dynamic loads from vessel motions. They are subject to additional possible failures of power generators. the grouped-spread mooring pattern will provide better redundancy (with a higher safety factor on line tension) against possible progressive failure of a mooring system. the vessel cannot weathervane by itself and thruster assistance is required for vessel heading control. An FPSO can carry many production risers through the turret.P. In shallow water (less than 100m). The number of mooring lines and risers. there is only one drilling riser on a MODU. In the tropical cyclone prone areas. thereby preventing the turret from being located near the bow. these FPSOs are manned during 100-year return period design events. 7. This FPSO is equipped with one bow and two stem thrusters to assist the turret mooring system. the equally spread mooring pattern has been employed for mobile offshore drilling units (MODUs) based on semisubmersibles. such as the GOM and the SCS. MOORING LINE CONFIGURATION Traditionally. Besides. St. Therefore. Turret ( st.

. and Clearance from risers or any other obstacles. The mooring system stiffness is thus increased when the vertical load at the fairlead from the weight of a mooring line is reduced by the submersible buoys. To cope with these problems. and Reliability of vertically loaded anchors (VLAs) as discussed in Section 9 below. As shown in Figure 7. These buoys can also keep the mooring lines clear from adjacent risers or subsea pipelines to prevent possible interference. the industry is starting to use synthetic moorings. there are concerns about the polyester taut leg mooring system (Huang and Lee...... In addition.. Petrobras has used polyester taut leg mooring systems for several deep-water projects in Offshore Brazil (Ma. even the conventional chain-wire combination will become too heavy and too soft in horizontal stiffness to resist environmental loads... The relatively light weight of submerged polyester ropes is beneficial in reducing the weight of a mooring system in deep water. iF Figure 5: Shallow Water Mooring Line Configuration With these concerns. 1998): • Endurance and possible deterioration for long term use. the polyester taut leg with a pile or vertically loaded plate anchor (VLA) can greatly reduce the spread of a mooring line from the fairlead at the turret to the anchor position.. On the practical side. 12ZiiiiY " 12ZZ ........ the submersible buoys (as shown in Figure 7) can be used as an alternative to overcome deep water mooring problems... and ABS has developed guidelines (ABS. Figure 7:Mooring Line Configuration with Submersible Buoys The intermediate buoy near the turret will keep the mooring line in a more perpendicular direction to the large vertical motions at the turret location. By slackening the line tension. In ultra deep waters (greater than 2000m). these buoys in a mooring system can further enhance: • * Installation and maintenance operations. because its stiffness is provided by the line elasticity. Also shown in Figure 6... Torque compatibility with other components (wire or chain) in a mooring leg.. . these buoys will bring the mooring line closer to the water surface for inspection and/or maintenance.. 22: ... 323 ..• • [1~0 MI i I I ~tllJ I I Compression damage during installation and design storms. et al. These buoys will reduce vertical loads acting on the turret structure due to the heavy weight of mooring lines in suspension in deep water. ~ l w Figure 6: Deep Water Mooring Line Configuration As shown in Figure 6 in deep water (greater than 300m). In spite of these advantages.. The polyester taut leg mooring system is generally stiffer than the catenary wire-chain system. ! 999) for these moorings. not the line weight as the catenary wire-chain system. especially true in deep waters.. This will alleviate the line dynamic effects on line tensions due to large wave frequency vessel motions... • .. 1999). the mooring line segment below the riser buoy can be pre-installed with the anchoring system to reduce the time required to hook up the mooring system with an FPSO at the project site. the wire rope is used for most of the suspended portion of a mooring line to increase the stiffness and reduce the top tension of a mooring line.

" American Petroleum Institute (API). etc. "Recommended Practice for Design and Analysis of Stationkeeping Systems for Floating Structures. 2000. 1996." American Bureau of Shipping (ABS). roll and pitch longer than the design wave spectral peak period. In addition. which can still retain considerable amount of holding capacity even after some movement under the environmental extremes. The mooring design options presented are summarized as follows: Selection of vessel size to have natural periods in surge. such as TLPs.0 Conventional drag embedment anchors are considered to have some consequential advantages over VLAs.1. Conventional mooring line configuration consisting of wirechain combination with submersible buoys. sway. In addition. with anchor movement the grouped mooring lines will adjust line tensions among themselves to reduce the peak line tension of the most-loaded line.line Broken Design Environmental Condition (1) VLA Anchors . "On the Design and Installation of An Innovative Deepwater Taut-Leg Mooring System. there is extra cost associated with the introduction of these buoys in a mooring system. Rules for Classification of Mobile Offshore Units. "Position Mooring (POSMOOR). technical issues of turret mooring systems designed for FPSOs have been discussed. Reduced design pretensions and/or slackening design pretensions before the evacuation of personnel when a severe tropical storm is forecasted to reach the project site.Of course. 10. 1999. Ming-Yao. there will always be some uncertainties involved in the analysis of the site-specific soil conditions. Huang. There are basically two types of anchors: • • Conventional drag embedment anchors. By adopting these mooring design options. "Guide for Building and Classing Floating Production. and Conventional drag embedment anchors without uplift force at the anchor position to allow anchor movement without causing total loss of anchor holding capacity. Lee. it is hoped that the risk level of an FPSO operating in the Gulf of Mexico will be comparable to those of other oil production systems. Ken." OTC 10780.0 (2) Conventional . 1996. CONCLUSIONS This paper presents a summary of mooring design experiences.5 REFERENCES (b) One. ANCHORING SYSTEMS The anchoring points fixed to the seabed are the critical part of a mooring system for keeping an FPSO on location. 1998) requires higher safety factors for ultimate design holding capacities of VLAs as compared with conventional drag embedment anchors. (a) Intact Design Environmental Condition (1) VLA Anchors . Det Norske Veritas (DnV). there are various types of anchors that can be selected. Ming-Yao and Albuquerque. 1998." API RP 2SK. ABS (Huang and Lee. SPARs. Alan Cain for reviewing and preparing the figures presented in this paper.2. Design options for enhancing the reliability of a mooring system in general and under the effects of revolving tropical storms in particular have been proposed. Huang. This is in contrast to the conventional drag embedment anchors. The safety factors of both types of anchors are listed below for comparison: ACKNOWLEDGMENTS The author is grateful to the ABS management for their encouragement in the writing of this paper." Part 6 Chapter 2. if possible. Second Edition. and Anchors. Sergio. Ma.5 (2) Conventional . such as pile. These anchors may exhibit complete loss of their holding capacity after pulling out from the seabed. 1999. In case the design environmental criteria would be exceeded and causing the anchor to move. "Guidance Notes on the Application of Synthetic Ropes for Offshore Mooring.1. Passive mooring system with turret structure located at or near the bow without the need to have thruster assistance for weathervaning. which are designed to resist vertical loads. suction and vertically loaded plate anchors (VLAs). Depending on soil conditions and the required performance. The mooring design options proposed in this paper will help to enhance the reliability of mooring systems designed for FPSOs in tropical environments." OTC 8770. Storage and Offioading Systems (Revised Draft). "Experiences in Classification of Deepwater Mooring Systems for Floating Installations. these drag anchors still can retain most of their holding capacity. Wei. Additional design consideration for the intermediate buoy is that its submerged depth should be deep enough from the still water surface to alleviate wave loads acting on the buoy. American Bureau of Shipping (ABS). Ken and Lee. • Grouped mooring pattern with higher factors of safety on line tensions with one line broken design cases.1. • There are concerns about VLAs designed to take vertical loads. 9. The author would like to thank Mr. Therefore. In particular. 324 .

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