Selection of the correct field development option is an intricate process, in which different considerations are weighed against each other, typically by a score card approach. While this procedure works fairly well, it contains an element of subjectivity, in selecting element weight and ranking. The following paper will present an alternative approach to the decision-making process.

The Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP) is a multi-criteria decision-making methodology (MCDM) and modeling process used for making selections among a discrete set of alternatives. Developed by Thomas Saaty in the 1970's, AHP is a documented methodology used to improve the qualitative and quantitative aspects of the decision-making process. AHP incorporates a formal mathematical approach in order to choose between a set of alternatives, regardless of whether the alternatives are related by tangible/intangible or measured/estimated data. This selection is accomplished through the use of pairwise comparisons, as a measure of the relative importance between the alternatives with respect to the decision criteria. AHP converts the pairwise comparisons into numerical values that are used to provide insight and analysis for complex engineering problems at an early stage.

Engineering decisions made early on in the design process typically have the largest impact on cost. Often times with complex engineering problems, similar to those encountered in the offshore oil and gas field, there are a large number of conflicting design criteria that must be considered simultaneously when selecting a viable alternative. Early decision-making capabilities are affected by the lack of quantitative data and the large number of alternatives that must be reviewed. It is the purpose of this paper to suggest the application of AHP for field option development in the offshore oil and gas industry as a means to improve decision-making capability in early concept screening evaluations.

This paper is organized into three sections. The first section presents a discussion of AHP and the corresponding benefits associated with its application. While in the second section, AHP is illustrated through a case study in which the process is applied to a concept selection study for an offshore field development project. By means of the case study serving as a reference point, the Analytic Hierarchy Process is discussed step by step. In the final section of the paper, conclusions drawn from the analysis are presented as well as a discussion of future applications of AHP in the offshore oil and gas industry.

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