Offshore oil and gas operation is growing rapidly with the high demand for energy as oil is still the most important source of energy. Many studies indicate that the discovery of future oil will be more in the offshore area than onshore. However, the huge offshore facilities and activities create negative environmental and social impact as well as consequences ranging from air and water pollution to health and safety. Therefore, sustainability in offshore operation and design is a major challenge in the offshore industry. This paper explores and identifies the factors affecting sustainable design and materials selection for offshore topside facilities.

A qualitative approach has been adopted in order to develop and identify the factors affecting sustainable design and materials selection for topside offshore fixed platforms. The methodology has been conducted in two parts comprising: 1) an exhaustive literature review to determine the criteria considering the sustainability dimensions (environmental, social, economics) as well as the technical and engineering aspects. 2) A semi-structured face-to-face interview, which included both an open-ended and closed-ended questions component. In order to take into account both the views of oil operators and of the consultancy offices, forty experts and practitioners across the engineering disciplines in oil and gas industries were interviewed. Twenty-four experts from an international oil operator company and sixteen experts from an international consultancy office took part in the study. Seventy-seven criteria were identified via the exhaustive literature review and were distributed into seven subgroups. Relative importance index (RII) was utilized to rank the factors and the groups of factors based on the responses from the experts. Moreover, the internal consistency was calculated in order to check data quality and reliability of the scale.

The findings revealed that all 77 factors are highly important with minimum RII value being 0.640. The criterion offshore evacuation plan and clear escape route was considered the most important criterion among the 77 factors, whereas, the group of offshore health and safety was considered the top among the groups.

Since a limited amount of researches have focused on the sustainability for topside facilities of the offshore platforms, this research fills the gap in the existing knowledge of the offshore industry by contributing the following areas: exploring and identifying the factors affecting sustainable design and materials selection for topside facilities of offshore platform. In addition, the future research may take into consideration the determinant factors from this research in developing a decision framework for topside projects in terms of materials selection and sustainable design.

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