Drilling risers are key components in offshore oil exploration and are present in most of the well construction phases (drilling, casing, cementing and completion). Mobile offshore drilling units can operate in different sites exposed to a range of environmental loadings and water depths. Global riser analyses based on the FE (finite element) method are performed to assess the system feasibility and operating envelopes. In harsh environment and ultradeep water scenarios, the riser running/retrieving operation is one of the most critical due to top-angle limits and riser stress as a result of either contact with the inside of the diverter housing/substructures or loading at the gimbal-spider (API-RP-16Q [1], ISO 13624-1 [2]).

The use of beam-column elements is satisfactory for modelling the riser global response, however it may lead to result uncertainty in terms of local response associated with complex geometry, over-stress, stress concentration and contact modelling (DNV-ST-F201 [3], DNVGL-RP-F203 [4], ISO 13628-7 [5]). The objective of this paper is to compare riser analysis results from a global and a local FE analysis. This comparison is used to identify any limitations associated with the use of a global riser analysis approach for determining structural limits for the riser during deployment/retrieving operations. Several recommendations are also provided regarding the use of the global analysis approach.

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