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UNDERWATER INSPECTION REASSESSMENT OF ITALIAN

OFFSHORE PLATFORMS
A. Della Greca, S. Vanore, Tecnomare S.p.A., A. Del Vecchio, ENI Divisione Agip

Copyright OMC 2001


This paper was presented at the Offshore Mediterranean Conference and Exhibition in Ravenna, Italy, March 28-30, 2001. It was selected for
presentation by the OMC 2001 Programme Committee following review of information contained in the abstract submitted by the authors. The Paper
as presented at OMC 2001 has not been reviewed by the Programme Committee.

ABSTRACT
The Oil Industry has a continuous interest in reducing operating costs. Some significant efforts have been
made and notable improvements of Inspection, Maintenance, Repair (IMR) activities have been achieved in
the last years.
Offshore engineers continue to work in developing innovative approaches with the finality of achieving more
and more cost effective solutions, without reducing the safety level of the facilities.
This paper summaries the reassessment study that ENI/AGIP decided to develop in order to define new
criteria for underwater inspection planning and produce new specifications concerning all the Italian offshore
platforms. The engineering work was performed by Tecnomare involving the global review of original
inspection schedule and covering the remaining years of life of the installations.
During the first service period the offshore platforms were subjected to periodic underwater inspections but
no significant failures were detected.
In order to eliminate unnecessary tests a new approach has been followed based on the recent monitored
environment data and the reliability re-assessment analysis of the offshore structures in operating conditions.
The target is the reduction of the critical elements to be inspected and survey frequency, without
compromising the overall structural safety.
The Class of Risk of each platform has been introduced on the basis of the following parameters:
Duration of the manned period of the platform
Environmental effects of the platform failure
Economic asset of the platform
Specific reliability target values have been selected for the critical components as function of their structural
importance and platform class of risk.
In addition the introduction of FMD examinations substitutes MPI on less important components and assures
the periodic random check of the soundness of the platform.
The collected data, coming from offshore recordings, has allowed to increase the fatigue life of several
platforms.
The replanning of the underwater inspections is reported and relevant cost saving is outlined.

INTRODUCTION
The actual durability level of an offshore structure is difficult to assess due to the large uncertainties of the
main parameters affecting the stress level and fatigue life of the structural components.
During the platform engineering phase conservative choices are customarily made in order to account for the
uncertainties. Periodic underwater inspections are planned during the operative phase in order to detect
eventual defects and damages of the offshore structure and prepare corrective actions, if necessary.
The activity of inspection planning is traditionally based on detecting:

large anomalies (structure deformations, corrosion, foundation scour, ...) by means of General Visual
Inspection (GVI) covering all the structure components
q
potential measurements (PM) of cathodic protection system
q
initial cracks on joints by means of CVI/MPI covering some selected joints.
q

The joints to be inspected are determined on the basis of the 'design' joint fatigue lives, and roughly
accounting for impact of the failure of the connected members on the overall platform safety. This traditional
approach implies extensive underwater inspection activities without assuring that the most of possible defects
and damages are monitored.
Deep investigations of the fatigue performance of the welded tubular joints of the offshore structures were
started in the late 60s with the objective of managing in a rational way the large uncertainties associated with
the available predictive models. A milestone for engineering practice is the work of Wirsching (1984). The
subsequent introduction of reliability techniques provided the operator with a tool for rationalising the
selection of connections for underwater inspection in order to maximise the efficiency of inspections and
reduce the costs. The potential of reliability based inspection planning has been largely developed in the last
decade when several methods and procedures for inspection planning optimisation were worked out. Some
examples of them are provided by Vanzini et al. (1989), Oakley et al. (1994), Facciolli et al. (1995).
Tecnomare has been involved in research and engineering works regarding the requalification of offshore
platforms, optimisation and planning of underwater inspections based on the reliability assessment of their
main components life according to updated methodologies and technologies. Part of the work performed is
described in Vanzini et al. (1989), Facciolli et al. (1995), Facciolli et al. (1997), Terreni et al. (1997) , Della
Greca (1998).
A rational way to identify the most critical components of the structure is based on the evaluation of the
fatigue failure probability of the main components and of the consequences of the relevant failures on the
structure integrity.
The values of fatigue reliability should be considered as an indicator, inclusive both of the predictable
differences in actual fatigue strength from joint to joint, and also of the amount of uncertainties relevant to
such evaluations.
After each inspection and operative data recordings new information is available, so that the reliability -index
may be re-evaluated on the basis of the inspection data (viz. presence or absence of defects) through
Bayesian or conditional updating. Figure 1 shows a diagram of -index vs time, with updating after the
inspection event.
An inspection is needed whenever the reliability -index of a certain joint falls below the selected target value.
The reliability target depends on the "structural importance" of the individual jacket members and joints. To
this aim, a structural integrity assessment of the platform is carried out to evaluate in a qualitative manner the
"structural importance" of the individual jacket members and joints with respect to the overall platform
integrity.
The individual members of the jackets are ranked in the following three categories:
Category A members are considered the members of crucial importance to the global structural integrity of
the jacket, whose failure would produce serious consequences;
Category B members are considered the members not essentially important to the global structural integrity
for redundant jacket structures, whose failure would produce moderate consequences;
Category C members are considered the members of limited importance to the global structural integrity of
the jacket, whose failure would produce low consequences.
The relibility -target values are selected for each importance of structural components (see Figure 2). Once
the target reliability level is defined for each member/joint to be inspected and the relevant reliability -index
decrease vs. time is plotted, it is possible to plan a "dynamic" inspection schedule, which may be updated at
every inspection step as a function of the relevant inspection results.
Close Visual Inspection and Non Destructive Examination (CVI/NDE) will allow the identification of fatigue

cracks (if any) on the joints and to investigate the defects (if any) identified by visual inspections, and to
identify any wall thickness reduction of structural shells.
But there is another area of concern that has to be covered by underwater inspections.
Historically, taking into account the results of world-wide underwater inspection results achieved during the
last few years on several installations, it has been established that there is in any case an inevitable intrinsic
uncertainty related to where and when the fatigue cracks will occur. Even by performing inspection planning
based on modern reliability approaches, there is always a notable probability that no predicted cracks may
yet be present.
In order to periodically check the overall soundness of the platform and keep the structure at an appropriate
safety level during its service life, the Flooded Member Detection (FMD) examinations were appropriately
introduced.
The Flooded Member Detection (FMD) is a non destructive underwater inspection method and it is normally
achieved by ROV fitted with a suitable FMD device. It is a rapid detection of water ingress into each
submerged member derived from crack penetrating its wall thickness. In the last few years the FMD
technique has been developed and tested. It can be extensively applied to a large inventory of nominal watertight members due to the fact that the involved cost is much lower, if compared with CVI/MPI methods. The
CVI/MPI examinations are performed by divers and request a deep cleaning, brought back to bare metal, of
all welding line to be inspected.
More realistic evaluations can be made during the platform life if monitoring systems provide new information.
The conservative assumptions made during the engineering phase can be relaxed when new data come
available from measurements on site.
A re-assessment of the structure behaviour can be made on the basis of the data collected during the
operative life by means of inspections or measured by monitoring systems. According to these data the
previous platform loading conditions can be updated.
The safety level of the structure can be re-evaluated and consequently the inspection activity re-planned in a
cost effective way.

CASE STUDY
The studied platforms were designed within the last 25 years for the Mediterranean offshore following the
procedures and methodologies available at that date.
The 85 installations considered are production or export fixed platforms. The substructure of the multileg
platforms is a jacket.
The jacket is a steel tubular space frame structure comprising vertical braced frames. These frames are
connected by diagonal bracing and horizontal tubular members to form a rectangular structure in plan. There
are horizontal frames, each of which supports conductor guide frames.
The jacket cathodic protection is performed by sacrificial anodes.
The monitoring systems are installed on some platforms. They provide recordings of environmental factors.
The underwater inspections of the platforms were planned following the common practice and Certifying
Authority recommendations. The plan was prepared on the basis of the resulting fatigue life of the joints,
derived from the global stochastic fatigue analyses of the platform.

The original planning of underwater inspections foresaw for multileg platforms:


GVI
2 times in 5 years
PM
2 times in 5 years

FMD
CVI-MPI

not foreseen
1-2 times in 5 years

The original planning of underwater inspections foresaw for monoleg platforms:


GVI
1 time in 5 years
PM
1 time in 5 years
FMD
not foreseen
CVI-MPI
1 time in 5 years
Due to the high cost of the underwater inspections (mainly due to CV/MP Inspections), the Oil Company
asked to re-analyse the platform behaviour on the basis of the gathered platform information deriving from
the performed inspection results, monitoring system records and according to the updated methodologies
and techniques.

Reliability Analysis
During the first service period the offshore platforms were subjected to periodic underwater inspections but
no significant failures were detected.
In order to eliminate unnecessary tests a new approach has been followed based on the recent monitored
environment data and the reliability re-assessment analysis of the offshore structures in operating conditions.
The target is the reduction of the critical elements to be inspected and survey frequency, without
compromising the overall structural safety.
Tecnomare performed in 1999 the full revision analysis of the Underwater Inspection Planning of the 85
platforms, based on the latest reliability methods and previous inspection results, in order to achieve the
target of reducing the cost of future underwater inspections.
The re-analysis and re-planning activities were carried out by means of the fatigue reliability assessment for
offshore structures and on the basis of modern inspection philosophy, following the nowadays common
practice.
The Class of Risk of each platform has been introduced on the basis of the following parameters:
Duration of the manned period of the platform
Environmental effects of the platform failure
Economic asset of the platform
The reliability target values were selected according to the Class of Risk of the platform and the structural
importance of the component (see Figure 3). In this way a significant reduction of the survey number was
achieved.
The use of this reliability approach for inspection planning allowed both to increase the inspection intervals
and to decrease the number of joints to be MPI inspected, without increasing the probability levels of failure
or compromising the overall structural safety of the installation.
The MPI tests for the less important/critical joints were substituted by FMD examinations of the relevant
members.
In order to periodically check the overall soundness of the platform and keep the structure at an appropriate
safety level during its service life the Flooded Member Detection (FMD) examinations were appropriately
extended to several members, which give additional information.
The selected members were subjected to FMD inspection in order to detect, if any, potential through to
thickness member cracks due to initial fabrication errors.
The joint connections to be subjected to CVI/MPI were scheduled according to the maximum inspection time
obtained from the reliability analysis and distributing the inspections among the surveys.

The survey frequency was assigned according to the class of risk of the platform.
In addition the MPI tests are not planned-performed during the first phase of the platform life, since the
probability of detecting cracks in this period is very low.
The structure re-analysis followed processing of the data supplied by Company which were relevant to the
results of previous inspections and records of the marine environment monitoring systems installed on some
platforms.
The results of the records processing have shown that for several platforms the design environmental data
were higher than the recorded ones. The monitoring data results allowed an increase in the fatigue lives of
structural joints of some platforms.
The main result obtained from this re-analysis is that the overall number of the critical structural components
to be CVI/MPI inspected is significantly reduced since the actual recalculated fatigue lives are improved with
respect to the previous ones. In addition the number of the surveys is reduced according to the introduction
of the class of risk of the platform.

Considerations on the Results


The new underwater inspection planning of the 85 Italian offshore platforms foresees a significant decrease
of the number of surveys. The knowledge obtained from the previous inspection results and monitoring
system measurements have allowed a large reduction of the total number of the underwater inspections in
remaining life of installations.
The above considerations highlight that a rational planning of u/w inspections of offshore platforms allows a
significant reduction of the CVI/MPI examinations.
The introduction of several FMD examinations was made to substitute in economical way some CVI/MPI
tests and periodically check the overall soundness of the platform against potential through to thickness
cracks due to initial fabrication errors and to provide an additional safety margin with a relatively low expense.
The overall reviewed plan of underwater inspections of the structural components implies a global expense,
which is much smaller than that foreseen by the original inspection plan.
In Figure 4 the trend of the estimated costs regarding the u/w inspections of 85 installations in the period
1999 2010 is shown both for the original plan and for the new one. The annual estimated saving and the
cumulative cost saving are reported.
The cumulative cost saving within 2010 is about 6000 million liras to be compared to the total original budget
of about 12600 million liras.
It has to be pointed out that this notable economic target has been achieved assuring a level of safety not
lower than that relevant to the original inspection plan.

CONCLUSIONS
The reliability approach used for underwater inspections plan allows a critical selection of the connections to
be CVI/MPI inspected and of the survey frequency.
The FMD examinations of the selected nominal water-tight members important for the global integrity of the
structure is introduced in order to periodically verify the overall soundness of the platform against potential
through to thickness member cracks due to initial fabrication errors.
The new underwater inspection plan of 85 Italian offshore platforms was prepared according to the described
reliability approach, which takes into account both the previous inspection results and monitoring system
measurements. The global expense relevant to the new plan is much smaller than that foreseen by the
original inspection plan. A saving cost of approximately 48% is achieved.
This result is achieved mainly because the class of risk of the platform is introduced and the
gathered platform information deriving from the performed inspection results and monitoring system records

is taken in due consideration.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
The authors are grateful to Tecnomare for permission to produce this paper. The authors wish to thank the
colleagues D. Terreni and G. Toso for their support and suggestions. The views expressed in this paper are
those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of Tecnomare.

REFERENCES
Della Greca, A., 1998, Advantages of a Rational Assessment of the Offshore Structure Behaviour
Proceedings, OMAE 1998 Conference.
Facciolli, R., Ferretti, C., Piva, R., and Copello, S., 1995, "System Fatigue Reliability Updating for Offshore
Structures" Proceedings, OMAE 1995 Conference, Vol. 2, pp. 235-244.
Facciolli, R., Ferretti, C., and Bozzo, G. M., 1997, "Aged offshore structures: Strength and Fatigue Reassessment" Proceedings, Mediterranean Petroleum Conference and Exhibition, 25-27 November 1997,
Tripoli-Libya
Oakley, A., Brown, M., Warren, P. A., and Barltrop, N. D. P., 1994, Optimised Inspection Scheduling for
Offshore Structures a Probabilistic Approach, Proceedings, BOSS 94 Conference, Vol. 3, pp. 101-127.
Terreni, D., Della Greca, A., Shita, F., and Nemri, M.,1997, Cost Effective Replanning of Bouri Field Facilities
Underwater Inspections Proceedings, Mediterranean Petroleum Conference and Exhibition, 25-27
November 1997, Tripoli-Libya
Vanzini, R., Rossetto, P., Conz, L., Ferro, G., and Righetti, G., 1989, Requalification of Offshore Platforms
on the Basis of Inspection Results and Probabilistic Analyses, Proceedings, OTC 1989 Conference, Paper
OTC 5930.
Wirsching, P. H., 1984, Fatigue Reliability for Offshore Structures Journal of Structural Engineering, ASCE
Vol. 110, No. 10, pp. 2340-2356

Figure 1 Plots of -index and -target; inspection time picking delayed by updating

RELIABILITY TARGHETS FOR CLASS OF RISK 1

FAILURE
CONSEQUENCES

-target

Annual pf

MEMBER
IMPORTANCE

Serious

3.4

3.4E-4

High (Category A)

Moderate

3.0

1.4E-3

Medium (Category B)

Low

2.6

4.7E-3

Low (Category C)

Figure 2 -index targets selection as a function of the member importance

PLATFORM

COMPONENT

RELIABILITY

ANNUAL

INSPECTION

SURVEY

CLASS OF RISK

IMPORTANCE

TARGET

PF

PERIOD (yr)

FREQUENCY

CLASS 1

HIGH

3.4

3.4E-4

35

1 SURVEY

HIGH

MEDIUM

3.0

1.4E-3

49

EVERY

RISK

LOW

2.6

4.7E-3

7 15

4 YEAR

CLASS 2

HIGH

3.0

1.4E-3

49

1 SURVEY

MEDIUM

MEDIUM

2.6

4.7E-3

7 15

EVERY

RISK

LOW

2.2

1.4E-2

13 19

5 YEAR

CLASS 3

HIGH

2.6

4.7E-3

7 15

1 SURVEY

LOW

MEDIUM

2.2

1.4E-2

13 19

EVERY

RISK

LOW

1.8

3.6E-2

Figure 3 Summary of underwater inspections planning made on 1999.

Figure 4 Underwater inspection costs according to 99_planning.

7 YEAR