Subsea exploration well systems are subjected to complex loading due to vessel motion and hydrodynamic forces on the riser. In design of the wells, both the ULS/ALS design under extreme loading and fatigue design under operational loading are heavily dependent on the soil support along the uppermost 20 m of the conductor casing. In today’s practice, design of the conductor against extreme loading is typically performed using the soil reaction curves (p-y springs) recommended in API RP 2GEO [1].

In recent years, 4Subsea have been monitoring the BOP and riser responses during exploration drilling campaigns for Lundin Norway. The purpose of these monitoring campaigns is to track the performance of the wells with time, based on integrity parameters such as well stiffness, BOP resonance frequency and BOP motion rotational depth. This paper summarizes the monitoring results from seven well locations in the North Sea and the Barents Sea. The observed well response is compared with up-front design analyses. The discrepancy between up-front design analyses and the observed performances is discussed in light of the uncertainties associated with the geotechnical input parameters and soil reaction models. The purpose of the paper is to reflect on the challenges faced with exploration well design and highlight areas that improvements can be made.

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