Christian Olsen

Discipline Manager Geotech


Offshore Geotechnical Engineer

Updated 31.01.23

Who is Christian Olsen?

Christian is a highly experienced and accomplished geotechnical engineer with over 15 years of professional experience in the industry. He is an innovator, having been awarded 12 patents and receiving the prestigious Subsea7 Inventor of the Year award on two occasions. With a comprehensive understanding of the field, Christian has successfully delivered support on over 50 oil and gas projects, as well as several renewable energy projects. He is also a respected member of the industry, with his research being published in various technical journals and presented at conferences. With a specific focus on foundation design, Christian currently serves as the Discipline Manager of Geotechnics at Subsea7 in Stavanger.

Christian has the YouTube channel TheGeotechEngineer with more than 17,000 subscribers and one viral video (5,000,000 views). He is a member of the ONC Technical Committee for 2024 and at Subsea7 he is a member of the geotechnical community of experts. In 2013, Christian was a co-developer of the first app for I-Phone to complete bearing capacity for clay. From 2012 to 2019, Christian worked as a part-time lecturer in geotechnical engineering at Stavanger University.

What is Geotechnical Engineering?

This homepage sets out to present what is geotechnical engineering for anyone interested. The page mainly focus on my personal interest in offshore geotechnical engineering, but will also provide the visiter with a good introduction to the subject: what is geotechnical engineering?

A friend and I have created the worlds first I-phone APP which assess bearing capacity on clay. The APP is currently very simple, but we have a plan to make it more advanced. See more here.

Under the tab UNI, you will find some info on the Subsea 7 Stavanger office geotechnical collaboration with universities. We currently collaborate with NTNU and DTU, but we may want to collaborate with other universities.

Au2Rox disruptive innovation

Wednesday 15.03.2023 I had the honor to present the newly developed software Au2RoxTM at the Innovation Days 2023 at Subsea7. Au2RoxTM is short for automated rock berm design and is developed conceptualized by Subsea7 and developed together with AkerBP and OptumCE to complete rock berm design for offshore applications. With Au2RoxTM we are able to reduce engineering hours with a factor of about 1000 for a typical project. Au2RoxTM is also able to autogenerate a design report and design drawings of the rock berm. Another significant aspect is that with Au2RoxTM we can reduce the rock tonnage with more than 30% in some occasions. I find this to be an example of disruptive innovation.

Resurrection of Limit Analysis

One of my favorite geotechnical engineering methods is limit analysis. In recent years, I have noticed that both DNVGL-RP-C212 and ISO 19901-4 2016 have update the design codes to also include limit analysis. This was not the case in the previous revisions of the design codes. In the past they both allowed for the use of limit equilibrium and FEA as alternative to the bearing capacity equation, but limit analysis was not mentioned. I did find it strange that limit analysis was not mentioned in the previous design codes especially since the Brinch Hansen version of the bearing capacity formulation is built on limit analysis.

I believe that the limit analysis was partly lost a bit as a design method when the FEA arrived and made it easier to solve more complex problems. Geotechnical engineers has then gotten more use to the FEA with the full load displacement curves. With the increased focus on the FEA geotechnical engineers has then been able to ask what stiffness have you used in the ULS design. I never knew Brinch Hansen but I could imagine that he would not have been impressed over such a question for ULS design.

Therefore, I am very pleased that limit analysis is now back in the design codes. This fits very well with the increase in commercial available finite element limit analysis FELA. That is why I claim that the limit analysis has been resurrected. I wrote a brief paper to explain this in some more details. Resurrection of limit analysis

Geotechnical Engineering at Subsea 7

At Subsea 7, I work as a Principal Geotechnical Engineer in the Stavanger office. The geotechnical team currently consists of four engineers, providing geotechnial support to both tenders and projects. Typical work tasks in the geotechnical team include:

  • Use of limit analysis for estimation of collapse load for foundations subject to complex loading

  • Use of Plaxis (2D and 3D) to design complex soil-structure interaction problems

  • Geotechnical design of pipe soil interaction for inplace design of flexible flowlines and pipelines

  • Rock foundation design on soft clay

  • Perform geotechnical design basis and identify potential needs for additional site investigation

  • Evaluation of ploughing and trenching solutions

  • Client representative on board third party vessels

  • Supervision of junior geotechnial engineers

  • Technically responsible for subcontracts with engineering houses and rock dumpers

Geotechnical Design in Subsea 7 Stavanger - Examples

One of the geotechnical teams lastest acheviements is the foundation design of the Asta Hansteen spar anchors. These have been designed inhouse with use of amongst other PLAXIS 3-D. It is believed that these may be the largest suction anchors ever installed in Norway. This LINK is to a Statoil hopepage where you can read more about the Aasta Hansteen spar anchors.

The Geotechnical Team have prepared a paper for the OTC in Houston. The paper is a lesson learned paper on the counteract design for pipeline installation complete in collaboration with COWI for the Shell Ormen Lange project. The geotechnical design is based on limit equilibrium design to determine the horizontal capacity due to the contact force from the pipeline during pipelay.

Further, COWI used both Abaqus and Flac to perform the design. The most difficult aspect of the design was the strength variation in the soil. We managed to complete a design which optimized the allowable seastate for installation and avoided a rock dump campaign. I presented the paper during OTC in session 32, Lateral Buckling and Walking and Pipe Soil Interaction. The paper can be downloaded from the onepetro homepage: Lessons Learned - Counter-acts Used To Install Pipelines Offshore In Very Soft Clay

University lecturer in Geotechnical Engineering

Since 2012, I have been lecturing Geotechnical Engineering (5 ECTS) at Stavanger University. The course in geotechnical engineering is for first year civil engineering students. There are approx 70 students. I have structured the course as Chalk and talk, and prefer use of practical experience from work. I strive to bring items for each session such as torevane, sedimentary roks, geotechnical reports, geotechnical soil sample tubes etc. I teach in my spare time since I am full time employed at Subsea 7.

Engineering Education

Graduated from Aalborg University with a Ms.C in civil engineering in 2007. During my studies, I spent one semester at Griffith University in Australia where I completed a detailed analysis and examination of coastal structures and design of pile foundations which is a branch of offshore geotechnical engineering.

Offshore Geotechnical Engineering in Subsea 7

Engineering at Subsea 7

Subsea 7 engineer and deliver complex projects in the offshore industry. Each project is engineered in a project team consisting of engineers for various disciplines. Subsea 7 has adopted the matrix structure for the projects and disciplines work together. I work as Manager of the Geotechnical Team in Stavanger and we deliver support to the Projects.

Tasks as a geotechnical Engineer

As Subsea 7 mainly engineer and install risers, umbilicals, flexibles and pipelines offshore, most of my work as a geotechnical engineer is connected with these activities. I engineer initiations systems, provide geotechnical engineering assessment of soil conditions, design pipeline protection structures and subsea rock structures.

I deliver geotechnical support to the projects which covers but is not limited to preparation of geotechnical design basis, design of gravity structrures, pipe - soil interaction and FEM analysis in PLAXIS. When standard solutions are no longer applicable I use the FEM programs PLAXIS 2D and 3D supported with limit equilibrium calculations.

Lately, I have delivered geotechnical engineering to tenders and projects. Some of the main projects are Skarv, Norne, Alve, Ormen Lange, Gja and Volund. Further, I have prepared a two-day internal course on Geotechnics for engineers in collaboration with principal engineer.

Geotechnical Engineer Offshore

After completion of all rock design and coordination of the rock dump campaigns on the Dong Trym project, I was offshore on the Van Oords Nordnes in May 2010. As the only Acergy client rep on board, I was responsible for all communication between Nordnes and Acergy, approval of the work and I managed changes in scope.

Noverber 2008, I went offshore on the Maersk Advancer as client rep for Acergy. We trenched for the Volund project with CTC equipment on the vessel. No geotechnical engineering was required, howeever, it was a good experience for me as an offshore geotechnical engineer.

In connection with two procedures I completed, I went offshore on the Acergy Petrel in June 2008. It was my first trip offshore as an engineer and I worked as project engineer. I worked with the offhsore manager and the deck foreman.