Petroleum exploration and production in recent years have moved into increasingly deeper water off the continental shelf. Some of these facilities are anchored in water depths in excess of 1000 meters. Exploration and production in deep water present new technological challenges where traditional fixed platforms have given way to floating structures. Today suction caissons are the most commonly used anchorage system for permanent offshore oil production facility. The objective of this study is to numerically predict the ultimate capacity of suction caissons in normally consolidated and lightly overconsolidated clays. Representative soil profile from the Gulf of Mexico and the North Sea are taken and analyzed for suction caissons with length over diameter ratios of 2, 4, 6 & 8. Normalized failure load interaction diagrams are generated for each of the cases. The location of optimum attachment point is also reported for each of the cases.
General purpose finite element computer program ABAQUS is used for the numerical prediction. The finite element study is carried out with three-dimensional models using hybrid elements. A simplified elastic perfectly plastic model with von- Mises yield criterion is used for the study. The saturated clay is treated as an incompressible material.
Results of the study compares well with existing simplified method for estimating load capacity of suction caisson anchors.