In-service integrity management (IM) of steel lazy wave risers (SLWRs) can benefit significantly from quantitative assessment of the overall risk of system failure as it can provide an effective tool for decision making. SLWRs are prone to fatigue failure within their touchdown zone (TDZ). This failure mode needs to be evaluated rigorously in riser IM processes because fatigue is an ongoing degradation mechanism threatening the structural integrity of risers throughout their service life. However, accurately evaluating the probability of fatigue failure for riser systems within a useful time frame is challenging due to the need to run a large number of nonlinear, dynamic numerical time domain simulations.

Applying the Bayesian framework for machine learning, through the use of Gaussian Processes (GP) for regression, offers an attractive solution to overcome the burden of prohibitive simulation run times. GPs are stochastic, data-driven predictive models which incorporate the underlying physics of the problem in the learning process, and facilitate rapid probabilistic assessments with limited loss in accuracy.

This paper proposes an efficient framework for practical implementation of a GP to create predictive models for the estimation of fatigue responses at SLWR hotspots. Such models are able to perform stochastic response prediction within a few milliseconds, thus enabling rapid prediction of the probability of SLWR fatigue failure.

A realistic North West Shelf (NWS) case study is used to demonstrate the framework, comprising a 20” SLWR connected to a representative floating facility located in 950 m water depth. A full hindcast metocean dataset with associated statistical distributions are used for the riser long-term fatigue loading conditions. Numerical simulation and sampling techniques are adopted to generate a simulation-based dataset for training the data-driven model. In addition, a recently developed dimensionality reduction technique is employed to improve efficiency and reduce complexity of the learning process.

The results show that the stochastic predictive models developed by the suggested framework can predict the long-term TDZ fatigue damage of SLWRs due to vessel motions with an acceptable level of accuracy for practical purposes.

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