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Research Papers: Ocean Engineering

J. Offshore Mech. Arct. Eng. 2019;141(5):051101-051101-12. doi:10.1115/1.4041770.

The Deepwater Horizon Mobile Offshore Drilling Unit (MODU) was one of several classes of floatable drilling systems. The explosion on April 20, 2010 led to fatalities and the worst oil spill in the U.S. We present an independent estimate of the oil-flow rate into The Gulf caused by the drill-pipe rupture. We employed the NASA Moderate-Resolution Imaging-Spectroradiometer (MODIS) satellite photographs, starting from the days immediately following the disaster, to determine the magnitude of spill. From these images, we obtained the surface area of the spill and calculated the oil flow rate by two different methods based on contrasting luminance within that area. The first assumes a constant thickness for the total area with upper and lower bounds for the thickness. The second separates the area into different patches based on the luminance levels of each. The probability density function (PDF) of such luminance plots showed natural groupings, allowing patches be identifiable. Each patch maps to a specific thickness. This second approach provides a more accurate average thickness. With the assumption that evaporation and other loss amounted to ∼40% of the spill, we obtained, from the first method, a flow rate ranging from 9,300 barrels per day (BPD) to 93,000 BPD. A value of 51,200 BPD was obtained using patch-separation method. This latter estimate was a plausible value, obtained from the current analysis, but with no details presented in an Extended Abstract in OMAE2012, is remarkably consistent with the “official U.S.-Govt. estimates.”

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster

Research Papers: Structures and Safety Reliability

J. Offshore Mech. Arct. Eng. 2019;141(5):051601-051601-10. doi:10.1115/1.4042384.

This paper aims at assessing the reliability of pipelines with local corrosion defects subjected to external pressure. Several collapse strength models are calibrated and then used to formulate the reliability problem of corroded pipelines. Model uncertainty factors are derived for the various collapse strength models based on available experimental results to better predict the effect of local corrosion defects on the reduction of the collapse strength of pipelines. The model uncertainty factor is defined as function of the depth of the local corrosion defect and calibrates the overconservative predictions of collapse strength models that deal with the effect of corrosion defects by considering a uniform reduction of the pipe thickness. The collapse strength models together with the corresponding model uncertainty factors are then used to formulate the reliability problem of pipelines with local corrosion defects subjected to external pressure. Parametric and sensitivity analyses are performed for different levels of corrosion damages to identify the influence of the various parameters on the collapse probability of corroded pipelines under external pressure. Finally, an approach is suggested to calibrate a design code formulation that is conservative when the minimum pipe thickness is used to represent a local corrosion defect. The approach consists of identifying an equivalent depth of the corrosion defect, corresponding to an intermediate thickness of the corroded pipeline larger than the minimum thickness, that adjusts the design code to match the safety levels of the collapse strength model calibrated to the experimental results.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Offshore Mech. Arct. Eng. 2019;141(5):051602-051602-9. doi:10.1115/1.4042266.

Recently, the concept of a vessel-shaped fish farm was proposed for open sea applications. The fish farm comprises a vessel-shaped floater, five fish cages, and a single-point mooring system. Such a system weathervanes, and this feature increases the spread area of fish waste. Still, the downstream cages may experience decreased exchange of water flow when the vessel heading is aligned with the current direction, and fish welfare may be jeopardized. To ameliorate the flow conditions, a dynamic positioning (DP) system may be required, and its power consumption should relate to the heading misalignment. This paper proposes an integrated method for predicting the heading misalignment between the vessel-shaped fish farm and the currents under combined waves and currents. A numerical model is first established for the fish farm system with flexible nets. Current reduction factors are included to address the reduction in flow velocity between net panels. The vessel heading is obtained by finding the equilibrium condition of the whole system under each combined wave and current condition. Then, the Kriging metamodel is applied to capture the relation between the misalignment angle and environmental variables, and the probability distribution of this misalignment angle is estimated for a reference site. Finally, the requirement for the DP system to improve the flow condition in the fish cages is discussed.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Offshore Mech. Arct. Eng. 2019;141(5):051603-051603-9. doi:10.1115/1.4042535.

The aim of this paper is to establish a simple approach to experimentally study the mooring line damping in shallow water, where snap loading may occur more frequently. Experimental measurements were conducted in a wave basin at a scale of 1:50, which corresponds to a full scale of 28 m water depth. A chain made by stainless steel was used, and the tension force at the fairlead was measured by tension gages. Moreover, the line geometry, touchdown point speed, and mooring line velocity were derived from image processing techniques. Surge motions at fairlead were driven from a programmable wavemaker. Regular surge motions with different frequencies and pretensions were tested in this system in order to investigate the quasi-static and dynamic behaviors of the mooring chain. In the quasi-static test, the mooring line keeps a typical catenary shape, and its indicator diagram exhibits a smooth-closed curve. In the dynamic test, the mooring line is fully lifted from the seabed, and it cyclically goes through the stage of semitaut and fully taut. We successfully reproduced a snap event in the laboratory scale, and the resulting mooring line damping can considerably increase in this manner. Two criteria for snap event were examined, and both of them were verified by the experiments.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Offshore Mech. Arct. Eng. 2019;141(5):051604-051604-10. doi:10.1115/1.4042386.

For temperate ice regions, guidance provided by current design codes regarding ice load estimation for thin ice is unclear, particularly for local pressure estimation. This is in part due to the broader issue of having different recommended approaches for estimating local, global, and dynamic ice loads during level ice interactions with a given structure based on region, scenario type, and a variety of other conditions. It is essential from a design perspective that these three scenarios each be evaluated using appropriate definitions for local design areas, global interaction area, and other structural details. However, the need for use of different modeling approaches for ice loads associated with each of these scenarios is not based on ice mechanics but rather has largely evolved as a result of complexities in developing physics-based models of ice failure in combination with the need to achieve safe designs in the face of limited full-scale data and the need for implementation in a probabilistic framework that can be used for risk-based design assessments. During a given interaction, the ice is the same regardless of the design task at hand. In this paper, a new approach is proposed based on a probabilistic framework for modeling loads from individual high-pressure zones acting on local and global areas. The analysis presented herein considers the case of thin, first-year sea ice interacting with a bottom-founded structure based on an empirical high-pressure zone model derived from field measurements. Initial results indicate that this approach is promising for modeling local and global pressures.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster

Research Papers: CFD and VIV

J. Offshore Mech. Arct. Eng. 2019;141(5):051801-051801-9. doi:10.1115/1.4042197.

A stabilized higher-order boundary element method (HOBEM) based on cubic shape functions is presented to solve the linear wave-structure interaction with the presence of steady or slowly varying velocities. The m-terms which involve second derivatives of local steady flow are difficult to calculate accurately on structure surfaces with large curvatures. They are also not integrable at the sharp corners. A formulation of the boundary value problem in a body-fixed coordinate system is thus adopted, which avoids the calculation of the m-terms. The use of body-fixed coordinate system also avoids the inconsistency in the traditional perturbation method when the second-order slowly varying motions are larger than the first-order motions. A stabilized numerical method based on streamline integration and biased differencing scheme along the streamlines will be presented. An implicit scheme is used for the convective terms in the free surface conditions for the time integration of the free surface conditions. In an implicit scheme, solution of an additional matrix equation is normally required because the convective terms are discretized by using the variables at current time-step rather than that from the previous time steps. A novel method that avoids solving such matrix equation is presented, which reduces the computational efforts significantly in the implicit method. The methodology is applicable on both structured and unstructured meshes. It can also be used in general second-order wave-structure interaction analysis with the presence of steady or slowly varying velocities.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Offshore Mech. Arct. Eng. 2019;141(5):051802-051802-8. doi:10.1115/1.4042265.

Wave loads from breaking waves on offshore wind turbine (OWT) substructures in shallow waters still remain uncertain. The interaction of breaking waves with structures is characterized by complex free surface deformations, instantaneous impact of the water mass against the structure, and consequently large wave forces on the structures. The main objective of the paper is to investigate wave impact pressures and kinematics during the interaction of breaking waves with a vertical cylinder using the open-source computational fluid dynamics (CFD) model REEF3D. The model is based on the Reynolds-averaged Navier–Stokes (RANS) equations coupled with the level set method and k–ω turbulence model. Three wave impact conditions are considered in this study. The numerically simulated free surface deformations around the cylinder during the breaking wave interaction are also presented for different wave impact conditions. For three wave impact conditions, the wave impact pressure and the horizontal and vertical components of the particle velocity are computed in front of the cylinder and analyzed. The pressure and velocity profile at their maximum values are also examined and discussed. In addition, the total force is calculated for three breaking conditions and they are correlated with the pressure and kinematics during the interaction.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster

Technical Brief

J. Offshore Mech. Arct. Eng. 2019;141(5):054501-054501-8. doi:10.1115/1.4042534.

Prediction of trajectory of drag anchor is important for the design and selection of drag anchor. Prediction based on yield envelope characterizing the anchor behavior under combined loading provides a promising method. However, the existing application of the yield envelope method ignores the effect of the fluke inclination angle by assuming a horizontally placed anchor fluke. This study aims to investigate the behavior of inclined fluke, which is the practical case during installation. The effects of the fluke inclination angle and embedment depth ratio on the anchor behavior in uniform clay under unidirectional loading and combined loading are investigated. It is found that the effect of the fluke inclination angle on the unidirectional capacity factors is mainly for anchor with embedment depth ratio less than 3. This results in the large difference of the size of the yield envelopes for fluke with same smaller embedment depth ratio but different fluke inclination angle, while the effect is minor on the shape of the yield envelope for such cases. However, there is large difference in the shape and size of the shallow yield envelopes for fluke with different embedment depth ratios and inclination angles.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster

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