Instrumented field trials of Longitudinally Grooved Suppression (LGS) VIV suppression buoyancy modules have been completed on deep water drilling risers in the Gulf of Mexico. The field trials were used to validate the performance of the technology, which had previously been evaluated using prototype scale model tests. The measured riser responses over two drilling campaigns spanning more than six months were compared with each other and the outputs of computational riser modeling to validate the hydrodynamic parameter set derived through scale model tests and provide validated assessments of the suppression technology performance.

The measured response of drilling risers equipped with LGS buoyancy has been compared with a publicly available dataset for the VIV response of a conventionally buoyed riser, showing reduced VIV response in agreement with model test results. Measured flex joint angles, current profiles and riser accelerations were used to validate the hydrodynamic parameters used in numerical riser analysis. Using the validated hydrodynamic parameters, the VIV and drag suppression performance was demonstrated by comparison with the model predictions for risers equipped with conventional buoyancy modules. Eddy current occurrence statistics for a location in the Gulf of Mexico were used to calculate the expected annual operability performance for both configurations.

For the base case parameters, 12 days of annual operability improvement was predicted when using LGS buoyancy modules. A sensitivity study determined the effect of varying analysis assumptions on the predicted operability improvements. Measured current data from 2014 was also used to determine the operability benefits which could be realized within a year in which severe eddy current activity occurred.

The analysis performed serves to validate the previous laboratory tests as well as answer questions about the applicability of high Reynolds Number test results to VIV suppression devices in the field. The use of previously validated testing and analysis methods is shown to provide reliable estimates of suppression technology performance which are borne out by testing in the field. This paper presents the first published field trial of shaped buoyancy type VIV suppression, a group of technologies which have until now only been demonstrated using scale model tests and Computational Fluid Dynamics simulations.

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