Current offshore platforms can withstand sea ice, study for BSEE says

Current Arctic offshore oil and gas platform designs are capable of withstanding sea ice demands during extreme weather under an existing International Organization for Standardization (ISO) practice, a University of Alaska at Anchorage study for the US Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement found.

The study aimed to produce additional sea ice information to supplement ISO 19906, which covers Arctic offshore oil and gas structures, and other current standards and recommendations, BSEE said. It will be presented with other reports when the agency hosts representatives from six Arctic nations as part of the Arctic Offshore Regulators Forum Apr. 28-29 in Washington.

BSEE noted that over a 2-year period researchers gathered data from 16 seasons of ice measurements from the Chukchi and Beaufort seas. These data provided sufficient comparisons of various sea-ice parameters, such as first and last ice occurrence, level of ice, rubble fields, ridges, and ice movement. After a full analysis, the research team was able to analyze a range of annual values to develop averages and draw conclusions.

The study identified critical keel depth and provided an assessment of the suitability of current ISO 19906 recommendations for estimating global ice forces on offshore structures, the agency said.

Following collection of additional data, analysis, and thorough review of recorded events, the researchers said the current standard of practice in ISO 19906 is conservative for structural design parameters and is capable of surviving sea ice demands, it said.

BSEE said to support these efforts, it has a dedicated program coordinator in Alaska who helps identify research to advance the agency’s Arctic regulatory objectives. There currently are seven studies under way to assess offshore engineering technology and conditions operators face in harsh conditions. All of these efforts assist BSEE in understanding how conditions in the Arctic could affect future regulatory standards, it indicated.

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