Approaches are presented in this paper for estimating the global mooring loads and response of a semi-submersible drilling rig, as a result of pack ice loading. The focus is on loading events from pack ice conditions relevant to the Grand Banks, where the pack ice typically consists of small floes and limited concentrations. The current practice for semi-submersible drilling operations on the Grand Banks is to avoid contact with pack ice by disconnecting and moving off-station in the event of an ice incursion. From a global loads perspective this may be unnecessary, given that the typical pack ice is of low severity and mooring loads may well be within acceptable limits.
To be able to operate in pack ice while moored, operators need to demonstrate that the moored semi-submersible will have sufficient structural and mooring capacity to withstand the ice loads. Some existing semi-submersible hulls have ice strengthening in place as specified by a classification society, with associated allowable operating criteria in terms of ice conditions. These operating criteria are to ensure sufficient structural capacity given the ice conditions. No standardized approaches are currently available to quantify global pack ice loads and associated offsets for moored semi-submersibles, which are needed to assess the required mooring capacity. The objective of this paper is to address this gap and present approaches that can assist in specifying allowable operating criteria for station-keeping in pack ice.