A risk and reliability based calibration of partial safety factors for the ultimate limit state of suction caissons subjected to inclined tension loads from floating production systems is presented. The formulation is for the case of normally consolidated clay deposits with undrained loading conditions.

The load capacity analysis is carried out using the plastic limit model proposed by Aubeny et al. [1–3]. A procedure to calibrate the plastic limit model based on finite element numerical results is described. Line tensions from two mooring systems of an FPSO designed for two sites in deep water at the Bay of Campeche, Gulf of Mexico, are used.

A procedure to characterize probabilistically the load capacity of the caisson at mudline is presented. The physical lower limit of the load capacity and soil-chain interaction are taking into account. The mean and dynamic tensions of mooring lines are modeled through response surfaces in terms of uncertain metocean variables describing extreme sea-states. Reliability analyses are performed using FORM and considering both mooring line tensions and load capacity of the soil-caisson system at the mudline, rather than at the padeye. Partial safety factors for the design of caissons in connection to catenary and taut-leg mooring systems are calibrated separately. This is considered to be most appropriate taking into account their differences in terms of relative contributions of the mean and dynamic tension components, failure mechanisms controlling the loading capacity, and lower bound capacity. Calibration of safety factors is performed for a target reliability index equal to 4.2.

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