This paper addresses the issue of Arctic standards covering past developments, present status, and future needs. The successful development of the Arctic is strongly dependent on the existence of adequate standards that insure the safety of this unique, pristine, and fragile environment. The national and international standards include those developed by classification societies (IACS members), governments (CFR's, CSA, BSI, NS), industry (API, NORSOK), and international organizations such as ISO/IEC and IMO. There have been significant efforts to harmonize requirements on the shipping side culminating in the development of; e.g., the IACS unified Polar Class requirements. A need exists for similar development for Arctic structures.
The comparison between existing requirements for Arctic navigation and Arctic exploration drilling and production shows that significant differences exist and that there are important gaps that have to be bridged before the reliability of Arctic structures is assured. For example, the continued debate regarding the utilization of LRFD limit states philosophy and the magnitude of the load factors is still unsettled. Also there is a need for setting up principles for the definition of acceptance criteria when advanced analysis methodologies; now commonly employed in design of hull and component structures, are employed. The paper presents the results of the comparison and gap study performed and gives recommendations for the resolution of identified differences and the actions needed to mitigate the existing gaps
The Arctic is probably the final frontier for oil and gas production. Table 1 shows recently published U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) estimates of undiscovered Arctic resources of oil, gas, and natural gas liquids in 33 Arctic provinces (USGS, July 2010, and 2009 and Gautier et. al., 2009). The total undiscovered resources amount to approximately 412 Billion barrels of oil equivalent (BOE) or 57 billion tonnes of oil equivalent (TOE) which is approximately 25% of the world undiscovered O&G reserves. For example, it has recently been reported (Rigzone 27 October 2010) that ExxonMobil has successfully drilled and tested the PTU-15 and PTU-16 development wells for the Point Thomson project, Figure 1, on Alaska's North Slope, ahead of the 2010 year-end target. Point Thomson is a remote natural gas and condensate field located on Alaska's North Slope, approximately 60 miles east of Prudhoe Bay. It is estimated to hold about 25 percent of the North Slope's discovered gas resources. Concurrent with the drilling of these two development wells, activities are also focused on engineering and environmental permitting which are critical for project development. To date, the Rigzone article states, about $1.5 billion, including more than $730 million in the last two years, has been invested in Point Thomson.
The recent Gulf of Mexico Deepwater Horizon / Macondo oil spill disaster has proven that accidents do happen and the challenge is to be prepared for dealing with them. In the Arctic this will be the main challenge. Arctic challenges have been recently summarized in (Ghoneim, et. al., 2010), where twenty significant areas for research and development and regulatory issues have been identified. The availability of reliable standards for the planning, design, construction, installation, operation, and monitoring of Arctic drilling and production system is a major step towards attaining the goal of Arctic development.