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Pontoonless tension leg platform

Image Number 4 for United States Patent #7854570.

A pontoonless tension leg platform (TLP) has a plurality of buoyant columns connected by an above-water deck support structure. The design eliminates the need for subsea pontoons extending between the surface-piercing columns. In certain embodiments, the buoyancy of the columns is increased by the addition of subsea sections of increased diameter (and/or cross-sectional area) to provide the buoyancy furnished by the pontoons of the TLPs of the prior art. A pontoonless TLP has a smaller subsea projected area in both the horizontal and vertical planes than a conventional multi-column TLP of equivalent load-bearing capacity having pontoons between the columns. This reduction in surface area produces a corresponding reduction in the platform's response to ocean currents and wave action and consequently allows the use of smaller and/or less costly mooring systems. Moreover, the smaller vertical projected area results in a shorter natural period which enables a pontoonless TLP according to the invention to be used in water depths where conventional TLPs cannot be used due to their longer natural periods. The absence of pontoons in a multi-column TLP also has the added benefit of providing an unobstructed path for risers to connect with the deck of the platform.

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