The future of the API offshore structure standards appears to be at a crossroad. The short term plans are clearly laid out, with the projected publication of API RP 2A WSD 22nd Edition in 2006, probably preceded by the publication of a new, substantially revised version of the API RP 2T (Tension Leg Platforms).
The longer term picture, beyond 2006, is somewhat hazy. After a long development process, worldwide standards for the offshore industry, under the aegis of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), are emerging. It is apparent that both on the international scene as well as domestically the future of the API standardization activities will be inexorably linked with those within the ISO.
This paper gives a brief overview of the ISO-led effort and of the API contribution to it, and puts forward some thoughts for the future where all these activities may coexist in a organic and coordinated system.
This paper was written for the express purpose of stimulating a constructive debate. Even though voiced by many, the ideas presented here are the personal views of the writer, and no explicit or implied suggestion is made that they represent the position of the API or of the Offshore Structure Committee.
OTC paper 17697 presented a succinct historical review of the API standardization effort in the area of offshore structures, the establishment of the Offshore Structure Committee and the progressive development and enhancement of the API structure standards, with the API RP 2A as the cornerstone. The paper ended with a brief glimpse of the forthcoming API RP 2A WSD 22nd Edition, expected in 2006, and the announcement of two new RPs (API RP 2FB and API RP 2SIM), to be published at the same time. Additionally, the publication of a new Edition of RP 2T is expected in late 2005.
The longer term picture is much less defined. For one thing, discussions are in progress within the API that may lead to substantial changes in the typical way Committees operate in the development and maintenance of standards. More importantly, an initiative intended to develop worldwide offshore structure standards, underway since the early 1990s, is currently in advanced stages of completion. The publication of these new standards, their adoption by the international community and the process for update and enhancement will require careful coordination with the API processes as well as an appropriate alignment with the API strategy.
In its expansion outside the confines of the Gulf of Mexico, as described in OTC 17697, the industry initially continued using API standards for the design of offshore platforms in international location. In due course, several countries found it necessary to issue addenda to the API documents and, in some cases, publish alternative national standards.
In the late 1980s, in response to emerging business trends and forthcoming political events, the industry found it necessary to reassess its strategic direction.