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MOORING SYSTEMS
1.0 INTRODUCTION
Mooring systems are common to all FPSOs and FPVs, whatever their type: mono-hulls, semisubmersibles, deep draught semi-submersibles or spars.
Mooring systems for FPSOs have evolved initially from the components and technology already
available in the Marine Industry, i.e. the conventional chains, winches and anchors. However, the
technology has evolved very rapidly to satisfy the specific requirements of offshore applications: more
severe environments, larger vessels, longer design lives, deeper waters.
2.0
2.1

MOORING SYSTEMS BASICS


RESTORING FORCES

The primary purpose of a mooring system is to maintain a floating structure on station within a
specified tolerance, typically based on an offset limit determined from the configuration of the risers.
The mooring system provides a restoring force that acts against the environmental forces which want
to push the unit off station. In the following diagrams the main components of mooring system
restoring force are explained.
The connection between the mooring system and the body of the vessel is where the restoring force of
the mooring system acts. At this connection point there are two force components present; horizontal
and vertical. The horizontal component of the mooring lines tension acts as a restoring force. The
vertical component acts as a vertical weight on the vessel. In deep water the vertical force can be
quite considerable. For some designs of FPS, with limited payload capacity, the vertical mooring force
can have significant design implications.
It is informative to understand the significance of the mooring line angle as it departs the point of
connection to the vessel. A low angle to the vertical will generate a low restoring force, with significant
vertical load on the vessel. If the angle here is large, then the restoring force will be increased while
the vertical load on the vessel will be reduced.
The tensions in a mooring line are split into two components; the restoring force that opposes the
environmental loading, and the lateral force, which may balanced by another mooring line.
2.2 ENVIRONMENTAL LOADING
When there is no external loading on the system the vessel will not move from its static equilibrium
position. When environmental loading does occur an imbalance in the system will occur. To restore
equilibrium the mooring system restoring force must become equal to that of the environmental load.
This is achieved through the vessel offsetting from its original position. As this occurs the windward
lines will pick up tension and the leeward lines will shed tension.
The vessel will offset until the windward lines have generated a restoring force that balances the
environmental loading. This means that the distance between the anchor and fairlead will increase,
and thus the tension at the fairlead will also increase.
3.0

MOORING SYSTEM TYPES

There are two main types of mooring systems: Spread Mooring and Single Point Mooring (SPM).
3.1 SPREAD MOORING
This conventional mooring approach is widely adopted for semi-submersible production units. For
floating production applications, spread moorings are used primarily with semi-submersibles and nonweathervaning FPSOs. Since the wave loading on a semi-submersible is relatively insensitive to
direction, a spread mooring system can be designed to hold a semi on location regardless of the
direction of the environment, although there is probably an optimum heading. However, a spread
system can also be applied to ship-shaped vessels, which are more sensitive to environmental
directions, as long as the environmental conditions are relatively benign and the weather direction is
fairly uniform without strong cross currents. In a location such as the North Sea, the forces which can
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be generated on the beam of a spread moored FPSO, plus the motions in such conditions, effectively
prohibit such a mooring arrangement.
The mooring lines can be chain, wire rope, fibre rope or a combination of the three. Either
conventional drag anchors or anchor piles can be used to terminate the mooring lines.
Spread moorings are typically cheaper than turret moorings since they are mechanically far less
complicated. However, they are limited to where they can be used and they can make offloading
operations by a shuttle tanker somewhat more involved.
3.2 SINGLE POINT MOORING
Single point moorings (SPMs), such as internal or external turrets, are used primarily for ship shaped
units. They allow the vessel to weathervane, which is necessary to minimise environmental loads on
the vessel by heading into the prevailing weather. There is a wide variety in the design of SPMs, but
they all perform essentially the same function.
The main types in increasing order of environment severity are:

Fixed tower
A fixed tower is suitable for shallow water depths (20 50 m) and small wave heights (about 5
m significant). It can be connected to the floating vessel by a simple hawser. However, to
avoid the risk of extensive damage in the event of a minor collision between the tower and the
FPSO, the hawser is usually replaced by a yoke and pendulum system. Fixed tower mooring
systems are common in the shallow water locations of a number of Chinese FPSO
Developments, for example the Bohai Bay area with the new ALP SYS system as described
below.

CALM buoy (Catenary Anchor Leg Mooring),


A CALM buoy is suitable over a wider range of water depths (30 150 m) and larger wave
heights (up to 8 m significant). It can be connected to the floating vessel by a yoke and
pendulum system similar to that for the fixed tower, or by a rigid arm that is hinged or rigidly
connected to the buoy and hinged to the vessel.
SALM (Single Anchor Leg Mooring),
A SALM is generally a column hinged at the sea bed and connected to the floating vessel by a
rigid arm or yoke hinged at both ends. The buoyancy can be provided in the upper part of the
column itself; this is the conventional SALM.
Internal turret,
An external turret eliminates the CALM buoy and allows the turntable and swivels to be directly
attached to the vessel bow or stern. It is suitable for deep waters and large wave heights. It can
be used up to the point where the combined heave and pitch motions may cause slamming on
the bottom of the turret (depending on vessel size and length, up to approximately 12 m
significant wave height).
External turret.
An internal turret is convenient when a large number of risers are to be installed, and therefore
a large turret and swivel assembly are required. An internal position also reduces the risk of
slamming due to the reduction of the effect of pitch. Consequently internal turrets can be used
in deep waters and the most severe environments (up to 18 m significant wave height).
3.3

CATENARY AND TAUT MOORING SYSTEM

Two main types of mooring system can be used for either the Spread or Single Point system; Taut-Leg
and Catenary. Both methods allow the system to withstand the applied forces, but through different
mechanisms.
A catenary system generates restoring force through the lifting and lowering of the line onto the
seabed, plus a limited amount of line stretch.
A taut-leg system makes use of the material properties of the mooring line, namely its elasticity.

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3.4

PASSIVE / ACTIVE SYSTEMS AND USE OF THRUSTERS

Mooring systems can also be classified as passive or active.


In a passive system, once the individual mooring lines have been installed and pre-tensioned, they
are locked off and they are not modified over the FPSO life at the site.
In an active system, Active winching can be undertaken on FPSOs and FPVs. There are two basic
options, namely:
1. Leeward line slackening,
2. All round length adjustment, including windward lines, so that the tensions are as
well balanced as possible at the limit of vessel surge.
If the leeward lines are slackened down too much this can result in greater yawing/surging and
reduced direction control which can lead to higher line tensions. In other words, if there is too much
slack in the system, there is an increased danger of high line snatch loadings.
The disadvantage of an active system is that individual tensioners are required for each mooring line;
this involves additional equipment and therefore additional payload and cost.
Thruster Assistance
A number of semi-submersibles and some FPSOs are equipped with thruster assistance.
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It has been found that operation of the thrusters can be very effective in reducing peak line tensions;
even though the thrust delivered can be modest. Typically in a mooring analysis the thrusters are
considered to reduce the mean load applied to the mooring system. However, thrusters also seem to
damp down the magnitude of the slow drift second order offsets. They can also be helpful with respect
to heading control. This can be particularly useful on a production vessel, if a small change in heading
can result in reduced vessel motions, thus improving the efficiency of the oil/water separation process.
In practical terms, when operating in manual thruster mode, high line snatch loads can be avoided by
applying thrust as the wave train approaches. This will tend to push the vessel in the direction of the
advancing sea. As the wave passes it is necessary to ease down on the thrust to avoid over
slackening the windward lines. If these become too slack there is an increased danger of snatch
loading when the next wave train passes through.
4.0
4.1

MOORING SYSTEM DESIGN


VESSEL DYNAMICS

Waves will cause a vessel to move in all six degrees of freedom; surge, sway, heave, roll, pitch and
yaw.
The motion of the vessel to individual waves is called its wave frequency or first-order response. As a
mooring line moves through the water it will be subject to dynamic line drag and inertia loading and
sometimes a whipping effect. It is possible to take this into account by undertaking a dynamic mooring
analysis, but this does increase computing time significantly.
The compliance of a mooring system is such that conventionally the presence of the mooring system
is not considered to affect the wave frequency response. The overall mooring system stiffness and
associated natural frequency will influence its second order or low frequency slow drift response.
In deep water for certain floating objects, such as deep draft Spars, the wave frequency motion is
attenuated to a certain extent by the mooring system due to the higher system stiffness. Hence, a
coupled analysis is sometime undertaken. The general conclusion from this type of analysis appears
to be that the mooring quasi-static tension has an impact on a floater's wave frequency response,
which in turn will affect the mooring dynamic tension. On the other hand, the effect of dynamic tension
is less important to a floater's wave frequency response. For deep water the effect of risers on the
vessel response becomes increasingly important and this should be taken into account.
The coupled wave frequency motion of a floater can be calculated in the time domain using the wave
force, wave frequency added mass and damping, and mooring force at each time step. Usually a
convolution method needs to be adopted in the radiation force calculation. Although the coupled wave
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frequency motion calculation in the time domain is slower than the Response Amplitude Operator
(RAO) based wave frequency motion calculation, it is still acceptable.
4.2 MOORING DESIGN
The development of the mooring system will require a number of inputs including : FIELD LAYOUT DATA
- Water Depth
- Mooring Lines Layout Pattern
- Location of Other Structures on the Seabed
ENVIRONMENTAL DATA
- Wind, Waves Current etc.
- (Operational and Survival Conditions)
VESSEL RESPONSE DATA
- Response Amplitude Operators (RAOs)
- Maximum Excursions from Static Offset
SEABED / SOIL DATA
- Soil Type and Performance Data
- Seabed Friction
MOORING LINE DATA
- Length of Line Segment
- Axial Stiffness
- Weight in Air and Water
- Drag Coefficients
- Breaking Load
- Final attachment type.
MOORING LAYOUT
The mooring layout should be designed to distribute the loads in the individual lines as equally as
possible and also to give sufficient redundancy to the overall system. The important factors are:
The strength of each line,
Seabed topography and soil friction,
Prevailing directions of wind, waves and current,
Proximity of other fixed structures on the seabed such as templates and pipelines or in the
water column, such as risers and riser mid-water arches, etc.,
Other storage or drilling vessels moored in the vicinity,
Future operational activities in the field (e.g. well workover).
Note that mooring systems are often symmetrical but they dont have to be. For specific environmental
conditions asymmetric systems may be more effective.
ENVIRONMENTAL DATA
Mooring systems are normally designed for the 100-year storm conditions, i.e. for the combination(s)
of wave height, wind and current velocities which are likely to occur once in a 100 years. These
conditions are established by extreme value analysis and extrapolation based on environmental
data measured over a sufficient length of time.
Typical values of waves in 100-year storms are:

West of Shetland
Northern North Sea
Gulf of Mexico
Philippines

100-Year
Significant Wave Height
(m)
18
16
13
11
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Associated Wave
Period
(seconds)
20
17
16
15

5
Brazil
West Africa

7
4

14
17

4.3 ANALYSIS METHODS


The tensions experienced by a mooring system at any time are driven by the following:
Static component from Wind, Mean Wave Drift and Current,
Wave frequency component, caused by 1st order wave frequency motions and
drag/inertia effects on the line,
Low frequency component, due to 2nd order low frequency waves and wind dynamics.
In addition, in deep waters (beyond 300 m), the dynamic response of the lines themselves may also
need to be taken into account.
The essence of mooring design is to optimise the behaviour of the mooring system such that the
excursions of the surface vessel do not exceed the allowable flexible riser offsets, while at the same
time ensuring that the line tensions are within their allowable values. Thus the mooring system load
offset curve should not be too hard or too soft. Hence, considerable iteration work may be required to
optimise a system for a particular location.
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The results obtained are the tensions in the mooring lines and the excursions of the FPSO vessel.
The tensions are then checked against factors of safety specified by the regulatory authorities such as
Lloyds Register (LR), American Bureau of Shipping (ABS), Det Norsk Veritas (DNV), etc. The
factors apply for different design conditions as shown below.
Condition
All intact
Operational
All intact
Survival
One line damaged
Operational
One line damaged
Survival

DNV
2.7
1.8
1.8
1.25

It is worth noting that spring buoys (mid water buoys) and clump weights can also be used to obtain an
optimised mooring system stiffness by extending the resistive forces over greater distances, hence
allowing clearance over subsea features.
4.4 METOCEAN PARAMETERS AND THEIR IMPACT ON MOORING INTEGRITY
For relatively benign environments, such as off West Africa, there is a much smaller difference
between operational and survival sea states compared to say the North Sea. This means that if the
metocean parameters, or the response of the vessel due to these parameters, is underestimated,
there is significantly less of an in built safety margin compared to harsher climates, particularly with
regard to fatigue.
The degree of spreading of the waves can also affect mooring analysis results. The geographic area
and fetch distance will influence the type of waves likely to be encountered in practice. Conventionally,
short crested seas are considered to result in reduced wave frequency response and hence reduced
mooring line tensions.
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4.5 ROGUE / STEEP BREAKING WAVES AND SHOCK LOADING
Mariners have used phrases such as Freak Waves, Rogue Waves, Walls of Water or even Holes in
the Sea, to describe some of the conditions they have experienced at sea. Trading vessels are
typically weather routed to avoid the worst of predicted weather conditions. However, permanently
moored FPSOs and FPVs have to ride out whatever weather is thrown at them.
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From a statistical sense the longer the Floater is on station the more likely it is to experience 100 year
+ conditions. If an elderly Vessel with a mooring system which has seen wear, corrosion and has
accumulated some hair line cracks is subject to such conditions, the likelihood of single or even
multiple line failure is increased.
Very occasionally an unusually steep wave slam load could occur at the same time that a floating
structure is around its maximum slow drift offset. The resulting shock or spike load on the mooring
might be quite considerable. How much this shock loading is transferred to the mooring lines will
depend to a significant extent on the degree of structural damping in the hull structure, the vessel
inertia, how long the load acts and where the moorings are relative to where the wave impacts. For a
semi, where you might get wave slam/slap right into one of the corners, the amount of structural
damping might well be less than compared say to a FPSO with an internal turret. Hence the loading
could be higher.
In November 1998 the Schiehallion FPSO was struck by a wave which was felt throughout the vessel.
The wave caused tears in the forward shell plating of the forecastle superstructure, buckling of
supporting stiffeners and permanent deformation of the forecastle tween deck. Production was shut
down and non essential personnel were evacuated to a nearby drilling rig. In this instance no damage
was reported to the mooring system, but it illustrates the danger presented by infrequent steep
breaking waves.
4.6 INTEGRATED MOORING AND RISER SYSTEMS DESIGN
Traditionally, the design of mooring and riser systems for a FPSO assumes uncoupled behaviour of
the two systems, and each system is analysed independently. The motion of the FPSO is calculated
taking into account the mooring system only; the motion obtained is then imposed as an input to the
design of the riser system.
However, it is not uncommon for a FPSO to support as many as 40 or even 75 risers of different
diameters (e.g. several applications offshore Brazil). With so many risers, the stiffness and damping
contribution from the risers can no longer be neglected and a fully integrated analysis of the mooring
and riser systems becomes necessary. The important difference between a mooring line and a riser is
that a riser has bending stiffness whereas a mooring line does not.
The effect of including the risers is primarily to increase the damping of the system; The system
stiffness is also increased with the water depth, number and size of the risers.
4.7 MOORING ANALYSIS CALIBRATION WITH FULL SCALE BEHAVIOUR
The determination of maximum tensions for a multiple line system requires application of specialist
computer programmes, which in many cases have been under continuous development for a number
of years. Despite this, there are still uncertainties in estimating mooring loads using analysis software
and model tests. Hence, it would be desirable to compare the behaviour of a full scale FPSO / FPV in
known weather conditions versus predictions. A4163
5.0 MOORING SYSTEM COMPONENTS
The main components of mooring systems, from the points of attachment of the mooring lines on the
FPSO to the seabed, are:
Winches
Fairleads
Mooring lines (chains, wire ropes or hybrid materials)
Surface or submerged buoys
Clump weights
Anchor system (drag, embedment, gravity, pile or suction anchors).
5.1

WINCHES AND FAIRLEADS

When reaching the FPSO, the mooring lines are guided through fairleads, which can be either
sheaves (pulleys) or bending shoes. The sheaves can handle both chain and wire rope whilst the
bending shoe is designed for wire rope only and is coated with a special high density nylon bearing
material to reduce friction.
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The payout, haul-in and tensioning of a mooring chain are normally accomplished with a rotary winch
(windlass) or a chain jack.
The rotary winch is equipped with a gypsy wheel, which meshes with the chain links. As the gypsy
wheel rotates, the chain is drawn over the wheel and lowered into the chain locker.
The chain jack works by pulling a length of chain, engaging a stop, retracting and then repeating the
process.
For a wire rope, a drum winch is commonly used for handling. The drum has special grooves on it,
sized to match the specific rope diameter, and the whole rope is progressively coiled on the drum.
Because the rope overlays after the first layers, damage can be caused to the rope at high tension.
There are two alternatives: a linear winch and a traction winch.
The linear winch works in an analogous manner to the chain jack.
The traction winch consists of a drum on which the rope makes a few wraps, and a take-up reel on
which the rope is coiled. This system can handle high tensions and long wire ropes without loss of pull
capacity, which is a problem with the drum winch.
5.2

MOORING LINES

In floating production systems, chain and wire are the most commonly used mooring line materials;
chain and wire are also often used in combination.
Chain provides weight and therefore stiffness through the catenary effect whilst the wire rope provides
greater elasticity and therefore compliance at high tension levels.
Thus the combination of chain and wire rope provides optimal performance in a wide range of water
depths. In shallow waters (less than 100 m), the use of heavy chain through the water column
provides the initial high catenary stiffness and the use of wire rope (sheathed in this case) on the
seabed provides the compliance at high tensions. In deeper waters, the use of wire rope through the
water column helps to reduce the vertical loads and the use of chain at the touchdown point provides
the stiffness required. At the fairleads on the FPSO, chains are often preferred to avoid bending
loads and also for easier handling.
As offshore applications go into deeper waters (beyond 1,000 m), man-made fibres (e.g. Kevlar.
polyester and polyethylene) become beneficial because of their superior strength to weight ratios.
Chains
There are two types of chains: studded and studless.
Studded chains are commonly used in the marine industry because they are easy to handle and can
be stored in chain compartments without risk of becoming tangled up. However, during use the studs
tend to get loose and the seat of the studs is often the initiation point for fatigue cracking.
For long term application of chains in floating production systems, the studless chain has been
developed. It features smaller end diameters to reduce the bending loads, consequently it is less
susceptible to fatigue.
As a chain is a series system, it is only as strong as its weakest link. Thus there is a need for a high
degree of uniformity of chain link in order to equate link strength with chain strength.
A number of different grades of chain are currently in use in the offshore industry. The grades are
distinguished by the different yield strengths of their steel, which are themselves dependent on the
steel quality and the heat treatment. The most commonly used grades are ORQ (Oil Rig Quality,
Grade 3 and Grade 4). The main mechanical properties of these grades are given below.
Chain Grade
Yield Strength
(N/ mm2)
Ultimate Tensile
Strength (N/ mm2)

ORQ
-

3
410

3S
490

4
580

641

690

770

860

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Chains are currently made in sizes up to 7 diameter cross section in grade 4.


Wire Ropes
There are three types of wire ropes: spiral strand, six-strand and multi-strand.
Spiral strand consists of concentric helical layers of wire. The layers have alternately opposite helical
directions, such that the wire rope is more or less torque balanced, to minimise any axial torque
generated by tensile load.
Six-strand consists of six (or eight strand) ropes manufactured individually, then twisted together over
a core to make the rope. In general the strands themselves are not torque balanced, but the helical
direction of the wires in the strand are different from that of the strands in the rope, in order to achieve
some torque balance.
Multi-strand consists of two or more layers of strands, the direction and lay of which are selected to
achieve a maximum degree of torque balance.
Spiral strand ropes are more commonly employed for floating production systems, where their greater
longitudinal stiffness, torque balance and ability to be coated in a polyethylene sheath makes them
more suitable for long term installation.
Six-strand ropes with independent wire rope core (IWRC) are most commonly used for mobile drilling
units due to their lateral flexibility and relative cheapness. Multi-strand ropes are not common
offshore, although they are used for crane ropes and diving bell hoist ropes.
The breaking strength is dependent upon the construction of the rope as well as the grade of steel
used. It is generally better known than that of a chain because a segment of the wire rope is usually
tested to destruction and the load at failure is recorded in the certificate of the wire rope.
Hybrid Systems (combinations of Chain and Wire Rope)
In support of cost efficiency, it is common to use a combination of chain and wire rope.
arrangement for a shallow water FPSO (ie 120m water depth) might be :

A typical

1st section from Turret = 27.5m chain


Portion through Water Column = 100m wire rope
Touch Down section = 300m heavy weight chain
Final Touch Down Section = 270m light weight chain
Pile end.

Man-made Fibre Ropes


The technology of man-made fibre ropes is at the development stage, although it is advancing rapidly.
The materials mostly used for fibre ropes are polyesters, aramids, high modulus polyethylene (HMPE)
and polyesters.
The densities of these materials are close to unity (0.98-0.99 for HMPE, 1.38-1.40 for polyester and
aramid) and therefore fibre ropes are almost neutrally buoyant.
The axial stiffness of fibre ropes is a more critical parameter than that of either chain or wire rope,
because the stiffness is mostly contributed by axial stretch. The stiffness is not constant and is
influenced by load level, range, frequency and history. For example there is a factor of two or more
between stiffness at installation and stiffness of a worked rope.
The fatigue life of fibre ropes is influenced by creep, abrasion and external wear. Under constant load
conditions the fibres will creep (ie load backs off). This means the lines must be re-tensioned
periodically.
5.3

BUOYS AND CLUMP WEIGHTS

Submerged buoys or clump weights attached to the mooring lines can modify the stiffness
characteristics of a mooring system.

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In deep waters the use of submerged buoys reduces the vertical load component and increases the
horizontal restoring force. It also reduces the footprint of the mooring pattern on the seabed.
Conversely, in shallow waters the use of clump weights increases the stiffness of the mooring system
and may help avoiding the use of heavy chains.
5.4

ANCHOR SYSTEMS

Detailed site information is required for anchor system design. This should include geophysical data
(bathymetry) and geotechnical borehole data (soil conditions).
Soil conditions at the installation site can greatly affect the selection of an anchor system and soil
investigations should include both the nature and the depth of the seabed material.
A large variety of anchor systems is available; they include:
Gravity anchors
Conventional drag anchors
Drag embedment anchors
Suction anchors
Pile anchors
Gravity anchors or dead-weight anchors are large gravity blocks which rely on their weight and
some friction with the seabed to remain in position. They come in various sizes and shapes and have
been used successfully in different water depths. By adding skirts or pin piles the friction force with the
seabed can be increased substantially.
Conventional drag anchors are commonly used in the marine industry worldwide. They come in a
wide range of designs and sizes applicable to a wide range of conditions.
They are generally designed to remain near the sea bottom or lightly embedded into it. One significant
disadvantage of drag anchors is the limited resistance to uplift forces. To avoid uplifting, long lengths
of mooring lines have to be deployed on the seabed thus increasing the overall costs.
Many are used in offshore applications.
Drag Embedment anchors, in contrast to conventional drag anchors, are designed to penetrate deep
into the soil. This capability increases the holding capacity of anchors by factors up to 8 times.
A drag embedment anchor penetrates the soil when pulled during installation. The distance of forward
movement is the drag length. When in use it may move again and penetrate further if the load applied
is larger than a certain threshold.
Two types of embedment anchors may be defined:
High holding power anchors,
Vertical loaded anchors.
High holding power anchors are characterised by a plated body (the shank) and two plated wings
(the fluke). The angle between the fluke and the shank can be adjusted to control the depth of
penetration: a small angle in sand and medium clay and a large angle in very soft clay and mud.
These anchors normally resist horizontal forces at the seabed, but can also take a substantial amount
of uplift, of the order of 20 degrees.
Vertical loaded anchors (VLA) have been specifically designed for application with taut-leg mooring
systems for which the mooring points have to accept both horizontal and vertical loads.
They are characterised by a large flat plate (replacing the fluke) and a system of wires (replacing the
shank). They are installed with a horizontal load with respect to the mudline to obtain the deepest
penetration possible. By changing the point of pulling at the anchor, a loading perpendicular to the
plate is obtained thus mobilising the maximum possible soil resistance; this load is of the order of two
times the penetration load.
High holding power anchors are widely used (nearly 50% of all FPSOs are moored by means of such
anchors). Vertical loaded anchors are progressively introduced in deep water applications.

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Suction anchors are specifically designed to resist vertical loads in soft soils. A typical suction
anchor consists of a steel cylinder, open ended at the bottom and closed at the top, but incorporating a
cap fitted with ports for connection of a temporary pump. The mooring line is pre-attached to a padeye
on the side of the cylinder.
Installation after contact with the seabed is initially carried out by self-penetration of the cylinder
thereby creating a seal around its periphery. Water is then pumped out from inside creating a
hydrostatic under-pressure forcing the cylinder to penetrate further. The cylinder can be demobilised
by reversing the process.
Such systems are common in West Africa, where the soil types are light. They have the advantage of
being simple constructions (giving local content) and can be deployed by low cost vessels.
Pile anchors usually consist of pipe piles installed by either impact, vibratory driving or by drilling and
grouting. The resistance of the pile depends primarily on pile dimensions, soil strength and pile
installation technique.
Pile anchors are suitable for resisting horizontal and vertical forces in various soil conditions.
Installation by impact driving (hydraulic hammer) is generally feasible in clays and sands. Vibratory
driving is generally more suitable for sands than clays.
The costs of installation are high because of the specific installation equipment required.
6.0

MOORING SYSTEM INSTALLATION

Mooring lines and their anchor system are usually pre-laid before the arrival on site of the FPSO. The
vessels used for this operation are Anchor Handling Vessels (AHV) or workboats. The equipment on
the vessels will be specific to each application but will generally include winches, rigging, spreader
bars, storage reels for wire ropes, etc.
In the case of suction anchor installation, two AHVs will be used: one for launching the suction
anchors, the other for installing the chains and wire ropes.
In the case of drag embedment anchors, two AHVs may also be used: one for lowering the anchors on
the seabed, one at a time, the other for pre-tensioning them.
Once the mooring lines have been installed, each of their free ends is temporarily connected to a
tethered buoy for easy retrieval.
When the FPSO arrives on site, the buoys are picked up one at a time, and the mooring lines are
connected to the winches on the FPSO. Tensioning of the lines can then be effected, according to a
sequence established in advance.
Installation activities generally involve several vessels working together over periods of several days or
weeks. Installation costs are therefore high and represent a large proportion of the overall mooring
costs. For this reason it is important to plan the various marine and installation activities in great detail
and well in advance.
Attachment of the chain to the seabed structure could be by the BALLGRAB system Plug in System.
7.0

DEVELOPMENTS FOR DEEP WATER

In deep water the weight of the mooring lines can become excessive. Not only the FPSO has to be
designed to carry the extra weight of the lines, but also the restoring forces become inefficient
because the lines hang steeply down and provide little horizontal restraint.
One solution is to attach submerged buoys to the lines to take part of the weight. However, in very
deep water, such as 1,000 m to 3,000 m, this solution too becomes inefficient.
Another solution is to use Taut Leg Moorings (TLMs) in which the lines are taut between the FPSO
and the seabed, and arrive at the seabed with angles of approximately 45 degrees.
The requirements of TLMs are twofold:
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11

Light weight lines,


Anchor systems, which can resist vertical loads.

Light weight lines can be achieved by using wire ropes and/or man-made fibre ropes.
Steel wire ropes can be used to approximately 2,000 m; beyond this depth the tensions become
excessive and they are difficult to deploy.
Man-made fibre ropes provide the means to moor up to 3,000 m deep and beyond.
Polyester Ropes have been tested in both Brazil and the Gulf of Mexico in their respective Research
Programmes. Having been fully accepted they are being more widely used. In Brazil more that twenty
systems are in operation. In the Gulf of Mexico, the Mad Dog Spar is the first polyester rope mooring
system to receive MMS approval and to de utilised there. The use of Polyester rope involves the
understanding of the Creep property of the material which requires the active re-tensioning of the
mooring line in use.
Anchor systems, which can resist vertical loads, are the vertical loaded anchors, suction anchors and
pile anchors.
Suction anchors and pile anchors can be installed in deep waters. Both suction pumps and hammers
can be driven hydraulically from the surface down to approximately 900 m. Beyond 900 m they need
to be driven by subsea power pack or by ROV (Remotely Operated vehicle).
Pertobras has developed and tested a new type of pile system using a Free-Fall torpedo pile
dropped from the surface. The self penetration reduces the anchoring and installation costs and
improves shot precision.
7.1 THE MOORSPAR MOORING SYSTEM
SBM Atlantia has proposed a new MoorSpar system, a disconnectable mooring system that allows
lower-cost, higher-efficiency steel catenary risers (SCRs) to be used in the development of deep and
ultradeepwater fields.
The MoorSpar unit consists of a truss-like structure set atop a long, submerged, slender buoy which is
moored to the seafloor by a combination of vertical tethers and lateral polyester lines. The FPSO and
buoy are connected through an articulated yoke system terminated by female (on the yoke) and male
(on the buoy) conical sections which match in dimension. Situated at the top of the MoorSpar unit,
the male conical section is the structural link between a main roller bearing and a gimbal table (a
heavy duty uni-joint at the tip of the yoke). This arrangement reportedly accommodates the vessels
roll and pitch motions, and also allows the FPSO to weathervane.
SCRs connect to the MoorSpar unit at riser porches located along the keel of the buoy. The risers are
then linked to internal piping, which is routed up through the central column and then across hard
piping before swiveling to the FPSO. The high pressure rating can be reduced upstream of the swivel
stack arrangement, within the piping manifold located at the MoorSpar buoy top above the extreme
wave crests. Connecting the FPSO to the buoy with an articulated yoke allows us to filter out the
FPSO heave motions. The truss limits the wave loads and the wave-induced motions of the MoorSpar
buoy, and consequently the motions of the SCRs porches are minimized. The MoorSpar system can
be used in water depths up to 3000m.
In a severe weather event when the FPSO must be moved, the yoke system is easily disconnected
and goes with the vessel. The buoy stays at the field location. Once the weather event passes, the
FPSO can return to the field location and reconnect to the MoorSpar within a 4-6 hr period.

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