In the last few years, the attention of the public has been increasingly drawn to the subject of offshore structures, particularly as a result of the television and press coverage of the platforms recently installed in the North Sea.
Although North Sea activity has publicised offshore engineering work, structures remote from land have been built for many purposes for some considerable time; however, offshore structures tend to be related to oil operations, and it is to this technology that most offshore structures in the Middle East relate.
In contrast to the severe environment conditions of the North Sea, the conditions of the Middle East are comparatively benign. Fig. 1 illustrates a steel structure being built in conditions typical of the Arabian Gulf. The main area developed to date is the Arabian Gulf, the existing wells and oil related structures generally having been located in relatively shallow waters of less than 60 m depth (cf. 180 m in the North Sea). New concession areas elsewhere extend to the 1000 m contour and working in these depths will no doubt pose their problems. Concession areas exist off most of the coastline of the Red Sea, parts of the Gulf of Aden, and off the coast of Oman. The latter two areas the relatively unexplored and therefore apart from the more severe weather conditions which are known to exist, difficulties as yet unknown may be met. For example the southern Red Sea areas will pose technical difficulties owing to the coral reefs and