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Constructive checks

New demands will be put on technology and choice of development solutions by petroleum operations in the far north. Some of the biggest challenges must be solved as early as the design stage.

Bjørn Thomas Bache, fagleder konstruksjonssikkerhet
Bjørn Thomas Bache, head of the PSA’s structural integrity discipline

The  discipline deals with support structures, pipelines and subsea technology, maritime systems, and materials technology.

It includes such aspects as aging, subsidence, mooring, flexible risers, internal and external loads on pipelines and risers, collision risk and natural forces.

Facilities on the northernmost NCS must cope with local loads and forces. Adequate knowledge, including updated standards, is crucial for good decisions on construction and materials. 
“Future developments far to the north could be located in areas strongly affected by an Arctic climate,” observes Bjørn Thomas Bache, head of the PSA’s structural integrity discipline. 
“That includes the risk of drift ice or pack-ice formation. So it’s important to have an overview of the specific challenges this presents.” 
Industry know-how about developments on the northernmost NCS remains limited. Subsea units on Snøhvit off Hammerfest are so far the only permanent facilities in Norway’s Barents Sea sector. 
“But a great deal of useful knowledge about petroleum operations in Arctic regions is available internationally,” Bache notes. “That includes research literature and studies. 
“Some of the international operator companies and contractors in Norway also possess valuable experience from activities in other cold areas. Becoming acquainted with this will be important as a contribution to filling knowledge gaps. 
“Areas where information is in short supply today include icing and ice buildup, the motion of floating facilities in ice- covered waters and the impact of collisions with small icebergs and drift ice.” 
A good overview of climatic and meteorological conditions is a crucial decision base in all phases of petroleum activity. The industry must ensure that such data are available and the best possible quality, and the PSA is contributing to this work. Lower temperatures and ice present design challenges, Bache says. “Winterisation measures such as enclosure and more equipment could be needed. But that means greater weight and complexity. 
“Lack of weather data is another challenge. Metering stations are far apart in the Barents Sea, which makes weather forecasting more difficult. “Polar lows cause intense, fast-changing conditions, and present a challenge to petroleum activities in such areas – including a possibly rapid increase in wave heights. 
“Generally speaking, however, waves are no more of a challenge in the Barents Sea than they are in the North and Norwegian Seas.