An analysis of the impact of model uncertainties on the design factors for environmental loads on offshore structures was carried out. Considering uncertainties in environmental processes, the load effect models and the member resistance, an approach was developed that gives explicit consideration to model uncertainty in codified design. For frequent environmental load effects, a two-factor approach was developed that defines the overall load factor as the product of two components: a basic factor accounting for uncertainty in the environmental process and a separate factor accounting for model uncertainty. The overall load factor is to be applied to the specified load, which is defined as the load corresponding to the environmental process value associated with a specified return period. This load can be calculated from the environmental process without considering model uncertainty. The model uncertainty factor was defined as a linear function of the mean and the standard deviation of the model uncertainty parameter. It can be estimated based on a specific model and reliability analysis. This two-factor approach has two advantages: (a) it allows for reductions in the load factor if conservative or more accurate models are used; and (b) it eliminates the need for the designer to consider model uncertainty in estimating the specified load. The approach was used to develop a set of load factors for environmental loads on offshore structures. These factors were calibrated to produce reliability levels consistent with those implied by the load factors in CSA-S471.

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