Several deep water floating production facilities are currently in operation in the Gulf of Mexico, with many more planned for the future. A significant investment is involved in building, transporting and installing such major production units. The oil industry has been making extensive use of specialist knowledge and facilities around the world to maximize efficiency and deliver as best a return to such investment as possible.

As a consequence, there is a trend for the transportation of increasingly large and high-value assets through long distances. For example, semi-submersible floating production units (FPUs) and production, drilling quarters (PDQ) structures may be built in shipyards located in the Far East and transported to the Gulf of Mexico. There is a trend to transport parts of the topsides with the hull steelwork thus increasing the value of the transported asset.

The proposed paper reviews the historical approaches to risk management of marine transportations in the light of the following developments: a) the higher tonnage and value of the assets currently under consideration, b) the improvement in the industry knowledge and understanding of risk management techniques, c) the availability of improved modeling and analysis techniques combining structural reliability and advanced computational models. A way forward is proposed in improving the industry practices in this area.

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