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Hydrodynamic Coefficients for Malaysian Offshore Locations

Offshore Oil & Gas platforms are strategic structures for the nation Malaysia. As we are very much
involved in developing relevant technology not only for the Malaysian locations, but also for about 30
countries where we have oil & gas operations. Since 1980, large numbers of experimental and field
studies have been conducted on the evaluation of hydrodynamic coefficients for wave and wave/current
application [1, 2, 3]. All our platforms, except a recent one, Kikeh (1300 m water depth), are installed in
water depths up to 75 m. These fixed jacket platforms have 3-D framed substructures made up of tubular
steel members as legs and braces. These structures are susceptible to corrosion, fatigue, damage
caused by dropped objects, extreme storms and waves, and contacts from vessels. To ensure the safety
and integrity of existing structures, improved inspection and monitoring systems along with accurate load
estimation is essential. For the structural design as well as for the structural integrity assessment, the
wave and current forces on these tubular members are calculated using Morison Equation as follows:

f = fD + fI
f = total wave force per unit length
fD = drag force per unit length=


fI = inertia force per unit length= C M

D 2

where U is wave velocity, U dot is wave acceleration, is mass density, D is diameter of tubular members
& CM and CD are hydrodynamic coefficients. It can be seen that these coefficients have great effect on
the forces and their correct evaluation and application are very important. CM and CD are dependent on
Reynolds number; these coefficients vary widely with the various flow parameters and with time. The
values of CD and CM can even vary over one wave cycle. The drag force is most significant nearest to the
surface and it decreases with increasing depth. Many other factors can affect the values of CM and CD
such as wave kinematics (measured or calculated by different wave theories), alignment of sensors,
minimization methods used to determine these coefficients, etc.

Experimental determination of wave forces on circular cylinders always attracted researchers because of
the various uncertainties associated with the problem. In the Morison regime the forces depends on two
empirical coefficients, the drag and inertia coefficients. Though design codes assume certain values,
even minor refinement in the coefficients can have implications in the safety of the structure and its
economics. Therefore any new experimental determination of wave forces and the resulting coefficients
to improve these values because of the refinements in measurement technology is considered very
valuable. A wide variety of approaches can be applied to analyze experimental data and determine drag

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and inertia coefficients, for example, wave by wave analysis, Fourier averaging techniques, and least
square techniques.
Wave forces cannot be measured using conventional measurement techniques as the water particle
kinematics and hence the forces depend on the wave length to water depth ratio. In other words, the
wave forces depend on the distribution of water particle kinematics depending on whether it satisfies the
deep, intermediate or shallow water conditions. Since the resultant force acting and it location varies with
the three types of water particle kinematics, the transducer to measure wave forces cannot be a
transducer to measure the total force acting on the cylinder. Once the point of application of the resultant
forces change depending on the wave period and water depth, the force transducer will be subjected to a
force and a moment depending on where the force acts. Since a conventional force transducer based on
strain measurements can measure the total strain which is a sum of the force and the moment. The
variation in the moment, depending on the point of action of the resultant, makes the measurement error
prone. In order to overcome this situation, one has to use a wave force transducer which will measure
the force alone and is independent of the moment produced by the force. Such transducers can be
designed and fabricated depending on the experimental facilities and the range over which the
measurements have to be done.

It would be very useful for PETRONAS and for our Nation, if we can determine the accurate values of
hydrodynamic coefficients to be used for the design and integrity analysis of jacket platforms in Malaysian
offshore locations. As many oil & gas companies are operating in our locations, we would be able to use
these strategic data for consultancy purposes also.

The objectives of this study are; a) to investigate the loads on vertical and inclined immersed cylinders
during the floatover installation, in the wave tank or the relevant test set-up used, subjected to wave and
current forces, b) to conduct nonlinear regression analysis correlating the wave/current force with the
hydrodynamic coefficients and c) to determine the accurate hydrodynamic coefficients for the typical sea
states in Malaysia such as Peninsular malaysia, Sabah & Sarawak.

Design of the model cylinder specimens to be tested

Purchase of cylinders and preparation of test specimens

Fabrication of the special transducers for measuring wave force

Completion of the experimental set-up in the wave tank. This includes; a) connecting all the
necessary model instrumentation such as accelerometers, load cells b) tank instrumentation such
as wave probes, velocimeters c) underwater camera & video cameras

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Actual model tests for the various environmental load combinations at selected wave angles and
model configurations

Numerical computation of wave forces using code coefficients

Nonlinear regression analysis for determination of accurate hydrodynamic coefficients

Optimization and validation

Generation of strategic hydrodynamic coefficients for typical Malaysian sea states



Chakrabarty S.K. (1987), Hydrodynamics of Offshore Structures, Computational Mechanics

Publication, Southampton, UK


Chakrabarty, S.K. (2005), Handbook of Offshore Engineering Vol I & II, Elsevier


Cotter D.C.and Chakrabarty S.K. (1982), Wave Force tests on Vertical and Inclined Cylinders,
Journal of Waterway, Port, Coastal and Ocean Division, ASCE

Amal Sebastian Alex

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