Sustainable design for offshore oil and gas platforms : a conceptual framework for topside facilities projects
Al-Yafei, Ezeldine Fadol
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Offshore oil and gas operations are growing rapidly with the high demand for energy and oil being the most important source of energy. Many studies indicate that discovery of future oil will be based more in offshore than onshore areas. However, vast offshore facilities and activities create negative environmental and social impacts, as well as consequences ranging from air and water pollution to health and safety issues. Therefore, sustainability in offshore operation and design is a major challenge in the offshore industry. A framework for stakeholders in the offshore industry which can be used as an effective tool to evaluate and assess the design and materials selection, considering sustainability, at the conceptual stage of a project has been developed. The literature shows that a limited number of researches have focused on the sustainability of topside facilities for offshore platforms. Moreover, it was difficult to find a complete sustainable framework that considers the three main aspects of sustainability (environmental, social and economic) in offshore engineering design. Therefore, this research fills the gap in the existing knowledge of the offshore industry by contributing to the following area: developing a decision framework for topside projects in terms of materials selection and sustainable design. In order to achieve this aim, a qualitative approach was adopted to develop and identify the factors affecting sustainable design and materials selection for topside offshore fixed platforms. The methodology has been conducted in two parts, comprising: (1) an exhaustive literature review to determine the sustainability criteria, as well as technical and engineering aspects; and (2) semi-structured face-to-face interviews, which included both open ended and closed ended questions. The findings from the semi-structured interviews highlighted a consensus among all the interviewees that there is a need for a sustainable framework for engineering design and materials selection for topside facilities. Moreover, most of the interviewees have not experienced such a framework. This supports the research gap: there is no complete sustainable framework available for engineering design. The framework developed here was validated and evaluated by industry professionals through case application and scoring model approaches. The results indicated that the framework and its components are applicable and effective for offshore topside facility projects.