The Group Design Projects are an educational exercise and the projects undertaken and designs developed during them should not be reported as representative of projects undertaken by or designs developed by the Supporters.
[Group 05] Offshore Processing Facility
Week 4 has seen some serious knuckling down from Deep Blue Engineering. Luckily our client, AMEC, left us with some engineering wisdom after our week 3 critical session. Fortunately Laure has rejoined us after her sick leave and dove right into examining the environmental impacts of our 100,000 tonne, aluminium coated, high strength steel, hydrocarbon pumping gas platform.
Clement continued with his wave loading, seemingly changing the platform orientation every 5 minutes, much to Jof’s frustration. The wind loading was proving to be an almost insurmountable problem for our usually imperturbable project manager as he grappled with tricky imperial units and outdated American codes. Fortunately Finlay rode to the rescue with some European nous, saving the day and forever banishing slugs/ft to the history books.
The day of our last critical session dawned bright and sunny and the group looked forward to our first session with a full complement. Alas, it was not to be. We had gained Laure at the expense of Clement (satisfying the conservation of Frenchmen). He was ill and couldn’t make it (perhaps he’d celebrated Bastille Day a month early?) and Jof would have to present the wave calculations.
The session itself was one of our better ones and felt much better than last week. The client responded to the presentation with smiles and nods of agreement rather than mute stares. We left with a spring in our step and more sandwiches than Liz could carry.
Week 3 began with a healthy dose of republicanism amongst the Brits of group 5. Rather than celebrate Her Majesty's jubilee we all cracked down to work on Monday. All of us that is, but the Frenchman, who seemed to have discovered his inner monarchist and embraced the jubilee spirit.
The wave loading of our structure is crucial for the feasibility study we’re producing. Clement worked wonders with our waves and produced some loading forces. He faced significant challenges: our platform is a semi-submersible with some pretty big members – would Morison’s equation even apply? He pulled through the adversity of a four day weekend and impressed the client with his work.
Jof looked at wind loading, Liz knocked up some anchors, Mark designed a flare and Michelle watched some (intumescent) paint dry. Devin continued with the construction sequence, Finlay made some waffle trusses (?) and I devised a blast wall. Report writing has begun in earnest and some detailed numbers crunched.
Our critical session on Friday began well, with a confident presentation to some of AMEC’s best and brightest, including (of course) several Imperial graduates. It wasn’t until afterwards and the questions came that we realised we still had a long way to go.
There’s dynamic analyses to perform, seismic loading to consider, transportation load cases to compute and a corrosion resistance system to last 40 years which we must find all before next week.
Let’s get cracking.
Group 5 took a leisurely weekend off before getting stuck in to some number crunching on Monday. One of the big issues the client felt hadn't been given enough attention was the geotechnical problems. Our area is has experienced some pretty hefty earthquakes recently and we were gently informed that under seismic loading some of our proposed solutions were about as secure as a paperweight.
We took the feedback on the chin and came back fighting, with Liz and Finlay calculating some hard numbers to demonstrate that monster piles were out of the question. This left us with only one feasible solution to the brief: a semi-submersible platform. As you’d expect, this is a floating structure with ballasted pontoons beneath the water and topsides above water resting on top of four columns linking the two.
Mark felt that what the project needed was more structural calculations and produced an impressive truss system to act as a deck for our topsides. Weighing in at a mere 6,000 tonnes, it is one of the most graceful trusses I’ve ever had the pleasure of letting someone else design.
Clement dived into the wave calculations and provided the group with a critical wave height, which allowed some preliminary sizing to get done. It is truly a colossal structure, standing about 100m from the tip of flare to the base of the pontoon.
Much like last week, the feedback came thick and fast at the critical session as we presented to some of AMEC’s most senior engineers that actually designed the project we’re now working on. It is a fantastic experience presenting to such experienced engineers and finding out their thoughts on our work and progress. Eyebrows were raised when we made to leave with the remaining sandwiches, but we made sure they had finished marking us by then.
Group 5 got off to a racing start once we had received the brief, with a scramble to crunch some numbers. We were brought down to earth with a crash when the client couldn’t make it to the initial briefing meeting on Monday and a quick phone call confirmed we were looking too far ahead – they wanted high level conceptual work at this stage.
We then started a desk study, examining the area and identifying potential issues. The geotechnical characteristics of the area proved to be the key to the project and a quick request for information produced the original geo survey results, all 17 pages of it! For a few days the team was puzzled by the size of the platform specified. It seemed like we had the world’s heaviest topsides, nearly twice as heavy as the next biggest platform! It wasn’t until after our first critical session on Friday that this was cleared up.
The critical session was a rollercoaster of emotion. We’d lost our French connection: neither Clément nor Laure could make it to the session. It was up to the rest of the team to provide some va va voom. The meeting was at their offices in Old Street and – joy of joys - lunch was provided! (There are plans afoot to extract any leftovers next week, for charitable causes, of course).
Our presentation was received well and they retaliated with a list of things we hadn't quite got around to doing. We were stunned into silence by this barrage of wisdom, but as the clients filed out the room they reassured us by saying how well we’d done. When they had left I silently wept into my third plate of sandwiches.
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