MCS Leads Safety Project of Floating Production Risers

Subsea engineering consultancy, MCS, is leading a Joint Industry Project (JIP) to develop an industry-wide approach to the integrity management of steel catenary risers (SCRs).

With almost 40% of global oil production coming from subsea wells, many of these producing to floating vessels, the use of Steel Catenary Riser (SCR) technology has become a rapidly developing area of riser engineering, with over 200 SCRs now either in service or planned. Since its first applications to floating production in the early 1990s, the challenges faced by SCR designers have increased through their increasing use for production service, higher motion vessels and ultra-deepwater developments. Coupled with these are the added uncertainties associated with predicting deepwater currents and the vortex-induced vibration (VIV) of steel risers.

Risk-based integrity management of SCRs has lagged behind approaches developed for other assets such as pipelines and flexible risers. Recently reported failures of some SCR components (flexjoints and stress joints) provide additional incentive for ensuring that integrity monitoring or inspection methods exist that are capable of prevention or early detection of such problems.

MCS has launched this JIP to facilitate a pro-active approach to managing SCR integrity, share operator experience and deliver risk-based integrity management strategy for SCRs. The SCR Integrity Management (SCRIM) JIP currently has industry-wide support among 16 participant operators, regulators, transportation companies, contractors and manufacturers. Most major operating companies (including ExxonMobil, BP, ChevronTexaco, Petrobras, Kerr McGee, Anadarko, BHPBilliton and Dominion) and US regulators (MMS and the DOT) are supporting the initiative, as are suppliers and contractors such as Oil States, Techlam, RTI, SBM and Tenaris and transportation company, Williams.

MCS has direct experience of the benefits of such industry-wide approaches to developing riser and subsea technology and the company has already lead a similar initiative that produced published industry guidelines for the integrity management of flexible pipes. According to Enda O'Sullivan, VP of MCS's Houston office: "We see the current trend towards managing risk and subsea system integrity as delivering shareholder value to operating companies through optimizing operational spending based on risk while minimizing the potential for unplanned disruption or preventable accidents. Through the delivery of initiatives like this MCS is able to take a proactive role in facilitating the development of new technology solutions in riser and subsea engineering."