Great expectations

Meg Chesshyre

January 1, 2015

As the offshore industry grows in complexity – in terms of projects and geographies – software is playing an increasing role in engineering, both to aid engineering and collaboration, as projects increase in complexity and diversity. Meg Chesshyre learned more at the Bentley Systems’ Year in Infrastructure 2014 conference in London.

Dockwise Shipping loads out the SHWE platform.
Photo from Dockwise. 


Software is playing an increasingly large role in the offshore oil and gas industry, both as an engineering tool but also providing the glue between the ever more global and widely distributed workforce, not least when it comes to platform installation projects.

For Bentley Systems, the growth has been notable. Clark McDonald, Bentley’s vice president, global offshore engineering, says the increasing use of floating production systems means there is a growing market for Bentley’s offshore software products.

He says that in a period of just three years there has been a 100% increase in terms of the revenue associated with the sale and delivery of offshore software, which represents about 10% of Bentley’s annual turnover of a little over US$600 million. Offshore wind turbine arrays is also a very strong business area for Bentley. It is relatively large in Europe and growing in Southeast Asia, offshore China, Korea and Japan - post Fukushima.

Bentley Systems also bought MOSES analysis software just over a year ago, a suite of analysis software for the installation of offshore structures and the design of all types of floating offshore systems. It provides hydrostatic and hydrodynamic analysis, used by the likes of Dockwise for floatover projects.

Phil Christensen

MOSES brings additional capability to Bentley’s existing range of products, which includes flagship product, SACS, an integrated suite of software for structural analysis and design of offshore structures, including oil, gas, and wind farm platforms and topsides.

For Bentley, some of the key trends in the industry are about those using the systems, how they want to use systems and where they’re using them from.

Phil Christensen, vice president Offshore & Marine, says, in terms of software system user age, there is an age gap between the developed markets, where the average user age was probably in the 40s, and the developing markets, like Southeast Asia, where the average age was more in the 20s. These two groups have pretty different expectations of how software should work, he says. Bentley’s approach, he says, is an aim to achieve a “best of both worlds” approach, keeping the old, world-proven solver, but adding modern graphical capabilities to improve the ease of use.

Christensen also says there’s an increased geographical distribution of project teams, and the increased collaboration between different departments, particularly marine and structural. “As projects get bigger there has got to be a lot more technical collaboration between the teams as well as human collaboration.”

Centrica’s F3-FA self installing platform being transported offshore.
Image from Orca Offshore.



As an example of where collaboration between different departments across geographies was the SHWE jacket transportation and installation, offshore Myanmar, carried out by Dockwise.

The project won Bentley Systems’ 2014 Be Inspired – Innovation in Offshore Engineering award. Dockwise was tasked with the transportation and installation of the SHWE (meaning gold) jacket and topsides with deck support frame at the Bay of Bengal by EPCI contractor Hyundai Heavy Industries. Dockwise performed the operation and engineering for the jacket transportation, jacket launch, topsides transportation, and topsides floatover. The jacket weighed 22,000-tonne and the topsides 30,000-tonne.

Statoil’s Mariner jacket.
Image from SNC-Lavalin. 


Bentley Systems’ MicroStation and ProjectWise were used by team members in project offices located in The Netherlands, United States, and China. An innovative bottle-shaped barge design to transport these massive structures was produced using MOSES and SACS, and data access, accuracy, traceability, and workflow were addressed by managing files in ProjectWise. Efficiencies achieved during detail design saved 5000 man-hours of the 30,000 engineering hours.

Simulations conducted using MOSES and SACS cut the estimated topsides floatover time from four days to two days. Safety considerations during simulations allowed the installation to be performed without incident. Being able to transfer data between SACS and MOSES increased project efficiency.

With a vertical center of gravity 48.3m above the keel, the topsides’ stability requirements pushed the limits of the installation barge, HYSY 229. The bottle-shaped barge made the floatover operation feasible because it satisfied both the stability and jacket footprint requirements. However, it created challenges for the mooring arrangement and transportation global strength needs. The short, fat, and heavy jacket also brought challenges to the launch operation.

The runners up for the award were Orca Offshore’s transportation and installation analysis of the F3-FA self-installing platform and SNC-Lavalin’s Mariner field development detailed design project.

A Dutch Orca

Orca Offshore performed transport and installation analyses for Centrica’s £200 million self-installing gas platform in the Dutch sector of the North Sea. The F3-FA platform has a suction pile foundation resting on a temporary barge for transportation. It can be relocated, providing significant cost savings across three to four fields.

Orca’s scope of work included motion and stability analysis, multi-body dynamic analysis, structural spectral analysis, and scale model tests. It was crucial to know hydrodynamic loads early in the project due to the pile size – 15m-high and 15m-diameter – and proximity to the wave zone. The loads determined how to size the steel work. MOSES determined those loads and confirmed the structural strength of the platform. The use of MOSES reduced the amount of steel required in the platform and for sea fastening and proved

Engineering Mariner

MOSES semi-submersible mooring analysis.
Image from Bentley Systems.


Statoil awarded SNC-Lavalin the front-end engineering design contract for its massive 22,000t jacket at the US$7 billion Mariner oil field development in the UK North Sea. With an 88m X 62m footprint on the seabed, the 120m-high jacket supports a topside facility weighing around 54,000t. The jacket’s weight and subsequent installation by barge were significant challenges. Using SACS and STAAD.Pro, SNC-Lavalin completed the jacket design in a tight timeframe. Nineteen interrelated analyses were performed effectively using SACS’ various modules, including wave-loading under storm conditions, seismic response, fatigue, sea-transportation, and accidental impact. STAAD.Pro was used for the detailed design of secondary steel. Working with the same software as the topsides designer enabled efficient information sharing and modeling of the interfaces between jacket and topsides.

Bentley also highlighted the OSX-3 topside design, which was a finalist for the Be Inspired award in 2013, Bentley software helped reduce the OSX-3 FPSO topside steel weight by 10%. L&T-Valdel Engineering, head-quartered in Bangalore, was commissioned by MODEC International to provide modularization design for the FPSO topside. The challenge was to complete the design of 15 modules and 10 pipe racks within 10 months. The company used SACS for modeling, analysis, and optimization of the FPSO topside structure and STAAD.Pro to design its tertiary steel. SACS achieved a 10% overall reduction in steel weight per module/pipe rack compared with conventional design. SACS provided clear visualization of lifting arrangements and detected structural clashes. STAAD.Pro’s helped the team complete the project on time.

Vessel design

In addition to MOSES and SACS, Bentley also has a vessel design system called MAXSURF for the initial hull design of new vessels and review of stability for modifications to existing vessels.

Having SACS and MOSES in the same company has lead to enhanced interoperability, says Bentley. There is also full integration between SACS and ProjectWise, and mechanical/structural integration between AutoPipe and SACS. There are plans for the future to create i-models automatically, and for increasing use of cloud computing. I-models are a medium for information exchange within projects associated with the lifecycle of infrastructure assets. They facilitate the sharing and distribution of information regardless of the source and format of the information.

Bentley says it continues to invest in product development, with major releases every nine months or so. MOSES V7.1 was released in September 2014. Christensen says: “This first major release of MOSES since Bentley acquired it in October 2013 increases the software’s interoperability and extends the resulting information mobility. For starters, it offers an enhanced ability to import SACS structural models into MOSES, along with the automated generation of SACS loading files from MOSES – enabling collaborative workflows among offshore structural engineering and naval architecture teams.

“In addition, through MOSES V7.1’s support of integrated structural modeling, users are able to work within integrated and flexible structural modeling, analysis, design, documentation, and detailing workflows. This gives them the advantages of intelligent structural design practices, which can help them deliver offshore platforms faster while reducing project risks.