2015:  Breaking ice - the challenge of building structures in ice-infested waters

Dr Dougal Goodman OBE FREng, Chief Executive, The Foundation for Science and Technology

Off the coast of Alaska, Canada and Russia structures have been and will be built for oil and gas exploration and production, for port facilities and other purposes. There are many uncertainties in estimating the design load for such structures. For example, an artificial island built to provide a base for oil production facilities may have a lifetime of fifty years and during this period will experience a wide range of ice conditions – stationary fast ice in the winter subject to wind loading putting pressure on the structure, smaller ice floes moving with the wind in the spring break-up or multi-year sea ice or iceberg fragments driven by currents striking the structure. What are the factors that determine the design load for such a structure and how can their probability distributions be estimated?


2014: Post-Hazard Learning and Decision-Making for Infrastructure Systems

Professor Armen Der Kiureghian, Interim President, American University of Armenia; Taisei Professor of Civil Engineering, University of California, Berkeley

The subject of the lecture is post-hazard learning and decision-making for infrastructure systems. Robust performance and rapid recovery of infrastructure systems in the immediate aftermath of a major hazard are crucial for mitigating losses and assuring the well-being of communities. Infrastructures, such as transportation and communication networks, and power, water and gas distribution systems, are especially vulnerable to natural and man-made hazards due to their spatially-distributed exposure, dependence between component states, and multiplicity of failure modes. In this lecture, Professor Der Kiureghian will discuss the use of the Bayesian network methodology to model the hazard and infrastructure system and to process information gained from observations. He will also use influence diagrams to make decisions on operational levels of system components and to prioritise component inspections. An application to a hypothetical model of the California high-speed rail system in the aftermath of an earthquake in the Bay Area will demonstrate the approach.


2013: Systems Safety – Challenges and Opportunities

Professor Donald C. Winter, Professor of Engineering Practice, Department of Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering.

An examination of major safety failures in disparate domains shows a number of parallels that highlight the challenges of   providing for the safe operation of complex systems. Case studies from commercial aircraft crashes, passenger ship sinkings and submarine losses will be reviewed and compared to disasters in the offshore oil and gas industry, including Deepwater Horizon, Alexander Kielland and Piper Alpha. The difficulties of learning from such experiences will be addressed, along with a discussion of the tendency for such lessons to erode over time. The lecture will conclude with a commentary on techniques currently being employed to enhance safety and reliability, including safety management systems and safety culture development.

2012: Safety of Offshore Structures and Operations in the Oil and Gas Energy Sector

Professor Torgeir Moan, Director of the Centre of Ships and Ocean Structures, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Trondheim, Norway

An overview of important developments regarding safety management of offshore structures and operations in the oil and gas energy sector is given. Based on relevant experiences with accidents, the hazards and means to control the associated risk are categorized from a technical-physical as well as human and organizational point of view. A comparison between the safety management approaches in different industries operating at sea – such as shipping, oil and gas, renewable energy, food production, coastal civil engineering is briefly touched upon. Structural risk relates to extreme environmental and accidental events, as well as structural degradation and can be controlled by use of adequate design criteria, inspection, repair and maintenance as well as quality assurance and control of the engineering processes. Such measures are briefly outlined, while emphasis is placed on a quantitative design approach for dealing with structural robustness. In this connection, the inherent differences in the robustness of various structural concepts are pointed out. The application of risk and reliability methodology for safety management of novel and mature systems is briefly reviewed.