Current profile data sources considered for derivation of engineering design criteria West of Shetland are described. The region is impacted by a variety of oceanographic processes that combine to produce a complex current regime. Reliable quantification of the resulting current profiles is required for safe and cost effective offshore exploration and field development.

A key challenge to all offshore developments is acquisition of appropriate data. Site specific measurement remains the primary current profile data source for engineering applications, with full water column coverage at sufficient resolution required for riser design. Such in-situ data are generally expensive and time consuming to collect, so there is an increasing tendency for numerical model current data to be considered.

Model data are often relatively quick and inexpensive to obtain, with the added benefit of a much longer duration, potentially allowing inter-annual variability and extreme events to be captured. However, the accuracy and reliability of numerical model data remains questionable, or unproven, in many deepwater development regions.

This paper describes a recent study in which in-situ data remained the primary source for derivation of current profile criteria for engineering design. Short duration proprietary data were supplemented by additional public domain data from nearby sites in a regional synthesis, with critical results. The performance and benefits of readily available model data are also considered.

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