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Status of technical guidance and information on design, construction and operation of offshore installations

  • Operations notice: 27
  • Issue date: Revised and reissued July 2012


1. This notice provides information on:

2. Standards are being developed  in the ISO 19900 series for the design and reassessment of offshore installations to give detailed guidance on the design, operating and environmental conditions and accidental loads that  require to be considered for an offshore installation used to produce hydrocarbons.. ISO standards for oil and gas production are expected to have primacy in most regions of the world, including the UK Continental Shelf, for the design of new offshore installations and for modification to and reassessment of existing offshore structures. Table 1 below indicates the ISO standards that are being developed for most aspects of engineering, production and related topics, and the relevant technical committee, subcommittees and working groups involved

Table 1: ISO TC 067: Materials, equipment and offshore structures for petroleum, petrochemical and natural gas industries

Technical committee, subcommittees and offshore structures working groups
ISO/TC 067/EC/MC Executive committee and management committee
TC 067/SC 02 Pipeline transportation systems
SC03 Drilling and completion fluids, and well cements
SC04 Drilling and production equipment
SC05 Casing, tubing and drill pipe
SC06 Processing equipment and systems
SC07 Offshore structures
SC08 Arctic operations
TC 067/WG 02 Conformity assessment
WG 04 Reliability engineering and technology
WG 05 Aluminium alloy pipes
WG 07 Corrosion resistant materials
WG 08 Materials, corrosion control, welding and jointing, and non-destructive examination (NDE)
WG 10 Liquefied natural gas (LNG) installations and equipment
WG 11 Coating and lining of structures and equipment
WG 12 CO2 aspects

ISO standards for offshore structures

3. Table 2 below lists the ISO standards for offshore structures that have already been published and indicates those that are currently being prepared (*proposed year of publication).

Table 2: ISO 19900 standards for Petroluem and Natural Gas Industries.

Specific requirements for offshore structures
ISO 19900: 2002 General requirements
ISO 19901-1:2005 Metocean design and operating considerations
ISO 19901-2:2004 Seismic design procedures and criteria
ISO 19901-3:2010 Topsides structures
ISO 19901-4:2003 Geotechnical and foundation design considerations
ISO 19901-5:2003 Weight control during engineering and construction
ISO 19901-6:2009 Marine operations
ISO 19901-7:2005 Station keeping systems for floating offshore structures and mobile offshore units
ISO 19902:2007   Fixed steel offshore structures
ISO 19903:2006   Fixed concrete offshore structures
ISO 19904-1:2006 Floating offshore structures - monohulls, semi-submersibles and spars
*ISO 19904-2:2013 Floating offshore structures - tension leg platforms
*ISO 19905-1:2013 Site specific assessment of mobile offshore units – Part 1: Jack-ups
*ISO 19905-2:2013 Site specific assessment of mobile offshore units – Part 2: Jack-ups: Commentary and detailed sample calculation
*ISO 19905-3:2015 Site specific assessment of mobile offshore units – Part 3: Floating units
*ISO 19906:2012    Arctic offshore structures

4. This new standards apply to the various types of structure in use, both fixed and floating. As well as initial design and associated issues of fabrication, transportation, installation, hook-up and commissioning and operation offshore, the standards also apply to structural modifications and to eventual decommissioning, for which structural reassessments may be required.

5. The new ISO standards are being developed and maintained by experts from industry, government and academic institutions. Several standards have already been published, and the remainder are in the course of preparation. The codes are intended to be updated approximately every five years (or earlier if significant new information becomes available) and, in any case, no more than ten years after publication of the previous edition.

6. An Annex: Metocean Requirements for Western Europe is being prepared, along with similar Annexes for other regions, and Annexes applicable to different structural types. All parts of the code are intended to be published before the end of 2015. In the United Kingdom ISO codes are published by BSI (British Standards Institute Ltd), and prefixed BS EN ISO (19900, 19901, etc.).

7. An industry “early application” phase is underway with the new codes being tested on a number of current engineering projects in order to confirm their usefulness and suitability in practice of the new codes and to inform, where necessary, any revisions required for the next edition.

8. Other sources of technical guidance, codes and standards that might possibly be suitable include (but are not limited to):

Historical note: Offshore installations: Guidance on design, construction and certification (Fourth edition) 1990

The 4th Edition Guidance (as it came to be known) was first published by the then Department of Energy in 1974 to support the Offshore Installations (Construction and Survey) Regulations 1974 (SI 1974/289) to provide a consistent basis for the certification of offshore installations by then government-appointed certifying authorities. The guidance was regularly updated and three amendments were published in order to keep up with evolving technical knowledge, until the fourth and final edition was published in 1990. The amendments included:

  1. First amendment:
    • a revised Foreword following publication of the The Cullen Report';
    • an addition to section 1 on Applicability of guidance to existing installations; and
    • minor changes to the section on steel;
  2. Second amendment (Revisions of the following sections:)
    • section 4 Surveys;
    • section 10 Installation layout;
    • section 12 Corrosion protection;
    • section 33 Self-elevating installations;
    • section 40 Electrical equipment;
    • section 50 Living accommodation;
    • section 53 Illumination; and
    • section 55 Helicopter landing area;
    • together with minor amendments to sections 23, 32, 47, A1 and A22;
  3. Third amendment containing revised recommendations on the fatigue part of section 21 Steel and a new section 46 Gas and liquid containment.

10. Part I of the original guidance, comprising sections 1-8, referred to requirements that had been superseded. . Part II, the remaining sections, gave guidance on specific technologies setting out what was  believed at the time to be good engineering practice. However, much of the information contained in the guidance become increasingly out of date. In one particular case, (friction between steel and neoprene in clamps) in section 60.5(h), the guidance was found to be unsafe. In 1998 HSE withdrew the 4th Edition Guidance from publication following the end of the previous certification regime, and the establishment of a regulatory regime of Independent Competent Persons (similar to that in use in other UK industries.

11. Certain sections of the 4th Edition Guidance were later republished as OTO Research Reports. Given the time that has elapsed since these reports were written, these documents can no longer be considered necessarily to represent current good practice.

12. Information in parts of the 4th Edition Guidance was updated and incorporated in the developing ISO codes where applicable. Other sections were used to inform other guidance, eg some parts of Section 55 Helicopter Landing Areas were included in CAP437 Offshore Helicopter Landing Areas – Guidance on Standards published by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) in the UK, and also in the International Civil Aviation Authority (ICAO) Heliport Manual. (Both these documents cross-refer to ISO 19901-3 for topsides structures.)

Important note: Applicability of guidance and technical information

13. Information contained in the 4th Edition Guidance and associated HSE research reports should not be used without checking its validity against current standards. Duty holders are reminded that they are responsible for deciding if the information given in particular standards or guidance is suitable for their purposes.

This guidance is issued by the Health and Safety Executive. Following the guidance is not compulsory and you are free to take other action. But if you do follow the guidance you will normally be doing enough to comply with the law. Health and safety inspectors seek to secure compliance with the law and may refer to this guidance as illustrating good practice

Updated 2012-06-27