This study examines the preliminary design of a tension leg platform (TLP), using a knowledge base approach. A TLP is a floating deep water compliant structure designed for offshore hydrocarbon production. Only a few TLP's have actually been built, but these platforms have demonstrated the feasibility of this new concept. Important field experience about their response behavior due to the environment is not generally available, although many technical articles on analysis methods have been published. An expert system approach can be used to compensate for this lack of information through the introduction of expert knowledge and the use of simplified mathematical or empirical models.
The preliminary design model developed in this study focuses on general aspects of the TLP platform configuration and its tethers. The tether characteristics provide three constraints. These constraints and the requirement of minimum cost are combined in a strategy to identify the optimum TLP configuration for a given offshore site. The final configuration can be plotted and its engineering details shown in a spreadsheet format. This knowledge base was used to study four different TLP configurations which are comparable with either existing TLP's or TLP's which will be installed in the near future. These simulations indicated that it is possible to approach practical design configurations using this methodology.