The Forces of Nature

While naval architects had determined forces on ships by developing empirical formulae, no such experience was available to apply to the platforms and unusual structures which would be used for offshore development. Basic theoretical studies were undertaken together with experiments in the Gulf of Mexico to determine the loads that would arise from waves acting on the structures. The Oceanography Department of Texas A & M University, sponsored by Shell, Chevron, Humble Oil & Refining Co. and others, made field measurements to determine wave forces on a vertical cylinder and compared the results to analytical methods in the early 1950’s. R. O. Reid, and C. L. Bretschneider played major roles in developing this technology. The work of W. H. Munk was used in the early design of platforms. Munk’s formulae included the drag portion of the wave force. Later, the inertial components were included thanks to the work of J. R. Morison in the 1950s.

Recognizing the pioneering efforts of the following people and companies who contributed to the development of this technology:

Leon E. Borgman, Charles L. Bretschneider, J. R. Morison, Walter H. Munk, Robert O. Reid, Chevron (Chevron), Humble Oil & Refining Co. (ExxonMobil), Shell, Texas A & M University, University of California (Berkeley)

In order to determine the forces on a structure, engineers needed some way to determine the highest extreme values of wind, wave, and current in the life of the structure. In 1954 Chevron installed 3 separate pilings (from platform deck to ocean bottom) with devices to measure wave forces, wave velocities and wave heights. Humble Oil & Refining Co. contributed by analyzing the gathered data from these test installations in the Gulf of Mexico (1955-1962) and derived environmental design criteria for the maximum design storm or hurricane data for coastal and offshore regions along the Texas-Louisiana and California coasts. This resulted in specifications for the important characteristics of the complex design waves including wave height, length, period, and harmonic composition. A. H. Glenn used these formulae together with shore based wind measurements and ship observations to provide the industry with the 100-year expected storm data at worldwide locations. Shell Oil and others pioneered methods for measurement of hurricane conditions far offshore in Hurricane Camille (1969). These data enabled development and calibration of modern numerical hindcast models. R. G. Bea led much of Shell’s effort to develop criteria for wave forces and current conditions in the Gulf of Mexico for use with the American Petroleum Institute’s (API) Recommended Practices for design. V. J. Cardone, W. J. Pierson and E. G. Ward were behind the development of later hindcast models.

Recognizing the pioneering efforts of the following people and companies who contributed to the development of this technology:

Robert G. Bea, C. Paul Besse, Sr., Charles L. Bretschneider, Vincent J. Cardone, Alfred H. “Al” Glenn, Willard J. Pierson, Emmett G. “Skip” Ward, Chevron (ChevronTexaco), Humble Oil Refining Co. (ExxonMobil), Magnolia Petroleum (ExxonMobil), Shell

In order to determine the forces on a structure, engineers needed some way to determine the highest extreme values of wind, wave, and current in the life of the structure. In 1954 Chevron installed 3 separate pilings (from platform deck to ocean bottom) with devices to measure wave forces, wave velocities and wave heights. Humble contributed by analyzing the gathered data from these test installations in the Gulf of Mexico (1955-1962) and derived environmental design criteria for the maximum design storm or hurricane data for coastal and offshore regions along the Texas-Louisiana and California coasts. This resulted in specifications for the important characteristics of the complex design waves including wave height, length, period, and harmonic composition.  A. H. Glenn used these formulae together with shore based wind measurements and ship observations to provide the industry with the 100-year expected storm data at worldwide locations. Shell Oil and others pioneered methods for measurement of hurricane conditions far offshore in Hurricane Camille (1969). This data enabled development and calibration of modern numerical hindcast models. R.G. Bea led much of Shell’s effort to develop criteria for wave conditions and forces in the Gulf of Mexico for use with the American Petroleum Institute’s (API) Recommended Practices for design. V.J. Cardone, W.J. Pierson and E.G. Ward were behind the developments of later hindcast models.    

Recognizing the pioneering efforts of the following individuals and companies who contributed to the development of this technology: 

Robert G. Bea, C. Paul Besse, Sr., Charles L. Bretschneider, Vincent J. Cardone, John C. Freeman, Alfred H. “Al” Glenn, Willard J. Pierson, Emmett G. “Skip” Ward

Chevron, Humble Oil & Refining Co. (now ExxonMobil), Magnolia Petroleum (now ExxonMobil), Shell

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