PSE Petroleum Structural Engineering® Software

Play Video


The Petroleum Structural Engineering® software is used for the design and rehabilitation of drilling structures for the oil & gas industry, including derricks, drilling masts, rigs and substructures.

The PSE Software is an integrated structural analysis and design software for Onshore and Offshore structures according to the API 4F latest requirements.

This engineering software solution is used worldwide by several notable international companies in production work for building innovative offshore and onshore structures.


This software accounts for advanced structural analysis, FEA, wind loads, vessel dynamic motions as well as wave and current loads. Other loads such as seismic, snow and ice loads for far northern extreme weather are also considered for the design of masts, derricks, platforms and substructures.

The PSE is a robust and reliable structural software based on more than 32 years of Research and Development. The program, designed with the latest technological innovations in its field, is equipped with a sophisticated and user friendly graphical interface.

ABS American Bureau of Shipping has approved the PSE Petroleum Structural Engineering® Software for the analysis and design of offshore derricks and structures.

Offshore Structural Analysis and Design
Onshore Structural Analysis and Design


The PSE Petroleum Structural Engineering® software is based on the API 4F Specification for Drilling and Well Servicing Structures.

In the PSE software, wind loads, based on the velocity component approach, and vessel dynamic motions are defined according to API 4F Specification for Drilling and Well Servicing Structures.

The PSE software systematically incorporates the latest requirements and recommendations for suitable steel structures for drilling and well servicing operations for the Oil&Gas industry.

The PSE software is an innovative solution aiming to increase productivity of international companies helping them to achieve the most complex structural engineering projects. Our engineering team is devoted to making the PSE Software a technology that continues to push boundaries year after year providing an additional competitive advantage in the industry.


The Petroleum Structural Engineering software is a technology built on a powerful user-friendly interface offering comprehensive analysis options and intuitive modeling features.

The advanced structural analysis of the PSE software allows the engineer to achieve specialized analyses crucial to offshore and onshore projects related to the oil and gas industry.

The PSE software considers restrained warping for the torsion of thin-wall open sections. Notice that this phenomenon is not included in most commonly used frame analysis programs. Almost all frame programs in practice use St-Venant torsion theory ignoring the effects of restrained warping.

•Seismic response spectrum, seismic time-history and dynamic time-history analysis
•Customized response spectrums and accelerograms
•Fully customizable analysis parameters
•Maximal response using CQC and SRSS methods
•Automated or user defined damping
•Graphical display of response spectrums and accelerograms
•User defined incidence angle of seismic loads and vertical components
•Customized analysis and output time steps
•Time refined results can be provided for selected parts of the models
•Automated or custom determination of the signs of deformations provided by the maximum response methods
•Additional masses can be added to the model by way of static loads
•Seismic loads (spectrum or accelerogram) and dynamic loads (sinusoidal, general load functions and random load functions)
•Multiple seismic and dynamic loads can be combined together in a single analysis
•Base shear calibration according to the selected building code
•Possibility to define several seismic loads and account for eccentricities between the center of stiffness and the center of mass
•Graphical display of the center of stiffness and the center of mass and seismic forces at floors
•Account for accidental eccentricities
•Account for the I, F and R coefficients of the NBCC and IBC code in spectral and time-history analysis



The software allows the user to create load combinations. A load combination results in an algebric combination of distinct basic loads. Each basic load is multiplied by a load factor. The resulting load combination acts on the structure to generate a specific structural response. The load combination wizard in the program also allows creating load patterns.

The load combination wizard generates load combinations according to NBCC, UBC, ASCE 7, BOCA, Eurocode and ECC.
•Loading for joints, members including concentrated, uniform, trapezoidal and thermal loads.
•Pressure or concentrated floor loads with two-way, one-way and truss distribution using triangular or quadrilateral surfaces.
•Pressure or concentrated loads on finite element plates.
•Gravity loads in any global direction calculated by the program.
•Imposed displacements at any joint.
•User defined load combinations.

The user can apply uniform, concentrated and variable loads to physical members (continuous sequence of members).
•Standard sections (CISC, AISC and European)
•Custom section libraries
•Non-standard sections (over 30 shapes available)
•Truss and pre-tensioned cable sections
•User defined section properties
•Composite sections are available

•Wizard based geometry generation
•Large number of pre-defined frames
•Over 30 pre-defined trusses
•Circular and parabolic arches
•Cylinders and cones composed of beams and/or plates



The catenary cable element is a highly non-linear element used to model the catenary behavior of a cable suspended between two points under the effect of its self-weight. This formulation accounts for the non-linearity due to large displacements.

A cable has no bending, shear, compression or torsion stiffness. Due to this fact, the fixities at the ends are ignored; the cable is always treated as member acting in tension only.

In the interface of the GSE, the user can create a catenary cable by associating a cable type section to a member.

Spatial objects are used to model non-structural secondary elements attached to the structure. These elements add no stiffness to the existing model. Loads applied to spatial objects are transferred to the structure through one or more attach joints. The loads are transferred using a “rigid plate” approach.

Concentrated, pressure and wind loads may be applied to spatial objects. The figures below shows a spatial object loaded vertically and horizontally attached to a cantilever column. Also, it shows the deformations and biaxial moments induced by the loads transferred by the spatial object.



This option is available for AISC 360-16 and AISC 360-10 standards.

The options for the Stability Design Method are Direct Analysis Method (DAM) and Effective Length Method (kL).


•Local coordinate systems
•Linear or circular lines of constructions for model creations
•Automated commands for model creation such as move, rotate, extrude, copy, attach, subdivide and others
•Models can be edited either graphically or by means of spreadsheets
•Element can be created in batch or one by one
•Elements of the models can be selected either graphically or according to a set of criterions
•Persistent groups of selected objects can be created and edited graphically or by means of spreadsheets
•Definition of physical members
•Selection and edition of physical members
•Definition of loading surfaces
•Multiple edition grids with user defined spacing, angles and labels
•Powerful edition and automatic generation tools
•Members can be subdivided in any number of equal segments or at specific positions
•Similar connected members can be merged together
•Elements of the structure can be renumbered according to several criterions
•Element attributes can be set graphically or by means of spreadsheets (sections, analysis parameters, rotation angles, etc.)
•Element attributes can be edited in batch or element by element
•Loads can be edited graphically or by means of spreadsheets
•Contour lines for finite element plates with customized bounds
•Wizard based geometry generation
•A large number of pre-defined frames
•Circular and parabolic arches
•Cylinders and cones composed of beams and/or plates
•Physical elements concept to group different elements
•Surfaces can be used for load transfer and self-weight calculation
•Surfaces can be used to simulate diaphragm effects


Functionalities of the PSE program allow to generate automatically detail elements in an automatically generated mesh perimeter.

These functionalities are specifically  related to the refinement area, the opening, the linear constraint and the punctual constraint. All detail elements added to the GSE model will be automatically connected to the finite element mesh.

The mesh perimeter will also connect any elements already in the model to the mesh perimeter automatically if they are in the plane of the mesh contour.


The program manages to scale the size of the various pictures including toolbar buttons in order to make the user interface easy to use on every monitor, even on very high resolution monitors.

•3D solid display of all section shapes
•Ultra-fast 3D visualization in wire frame or solid modes
•Customized display of all graphical objects
•Partial model visualization
•Results can be displayed on screen for the whole or a part of the structure
•Results can be displayed for each element separately by means of graphics and numerical results spreadsheets
•Results can be displayed for a set of elements by means of numerical results spreadsheets
•Graphical display of seismic and dynamic analysis results
•Model size limited only to the physical capacity of the computer

Offshore Structural Analysis
SAFI Structural Analysis and Design software


Functionalities of the PSE program allow to display objects transparency for various components such as current selection, solid members, plates, surfaces, spatial objects, panels.

The level of transparency may be customized for each type of object from the Display Options command.


The PSE Petroleum Structural Engineering® software can directly import models from the StruCAD*3D (ZenScad) program and the SACS (Bentley Systems incorporated) program.


Metric, imperial and mixed units systems are allowed and can be modified at any time.

Reports are printed according to any unit system.


•AutoCAD interface to import and export models by way of a DXF file
•The SDNF (Steel Detailing Neutral File) interface exports beams, columns and braces to SDNF compatible detailing software
•The KISS (Keep It Simple Steel) interface exports beams, columns and braces to KISS compatible estimation softwares
•IFC-Architecture interface for importing models from Revit or other IFC compliant programs.
•If required, members subdivision and account for physical elements will be carried out automatically
•The solid view of the structure may also be exported when exporting to AutoCAD


•Results can be visualized either graphically or numerically
•Input data and results may be printed for the whole structure or partial structures using a graphical selection or a range of elements
•Customized list of input data and results to be printed
•Reports are available in several formats including SAFI™ reports, Microsoft Excel worksheets, Microsoft Access databases and ASCII text files
•All graphics can be printed or copied to the clipboard for use in external programs


The API 4F specifications for wind loads based on the velocity component approach is integrated into the PSE Petroleum Structural Engineering software. Accordingly, drilling structures are classified based on their Structural Safety Level (SSL) and their offshore or onshore location.

The design reference wind velocity value represents a 3-second gust wind measured in knots at an elevation of 10 m (33 ft) in open water, with an associated return period of 100 years.


The Petroleum Structural Engineering® software has a tool to generate wind and ice loads on open structures such as drilling structures. It allows generating automated ice loads or wind loads on each element of the structure.

The PSE software automates wind loads applied to members. These loads are calculated based on the projected area, projected pressures or velocity components approaches. The program offers a variety of wind profiles and automates the determination of the shape coefficients (drag factors).


The API 4F specifications are applicable to the following wind environments:
– Operational wind
– Erection wind
– Transportation wind
– Unexpected wind
– Expected wind
The PSE software allows different configurations of the drilling structure models according to a given wind environment. The program requires the input of the rated design wind velocity, Vdes, and accounts for the design reference wind velocity and wind velocity multiplier. The program computes the local wind velocity, Vz, by scaling the rated design wind velocity by the appropriate elevation factor, ß, in order to obtain the velocity for estimating the wind forces.

A wind profile in a selected direction provides the wind intensity that generates the wind loads to structural members and surface areas. As many as required wind directions can be defined through different basic loads.



Member selection procedures allow the application of the wind profile to the entire structure or to specific zones and excluding members behind or in front of wind walls. It is possible to apply the API 4F wind loads directly to elements such as equipment, wind walls and other objects attached to the drilling structures.

The shape factor is automated in the PSE software for various section shapes. The program accounts for the gust factor and the reduction factor for shielding by members and appurtenances.



In the Petroleum Structural Engineering® software, vessel dynamic motions are defined according to API 4F Specification for Drilling and Well Servicing Structures.

The inertial forces due to the vessel dynamic motion as well as radial, tangential and translational forces due to the acceleration of masses attached to the drilling structures have a significant influence on design and reliability.

In various production wells, the offshore drilling structures are located on top decks of vessels, semisubmersible or floating hulls. Vessel motion includes roll, pitch and yaw rotations and heave, sway and surge translations.


The PSE software computes the inertial forces due to the vessel dynamic motion as well as radial, tangential and translational forces due to the acceleration of masses attached to the drilling structures. These forces have a significant influence on the structural design and reliability of offshore structures.

The PSE software accepts three types of user input in order to estimate the inertial forces induced by the vessel dynamic motions:
– Linear displacements, angular rotations and time periods
– Linear and angular velocities and accelerations
– Linear accelerations at two points in the vessel which are converted to linear and angular accelerations by the program.

High pressure mud piping, electrical cable trays, junction boxes, racking boards, tong counterweights, turning sheaves, deadline anchors, crown accessories, casing stabbing baskets and other outfitting items add weight to the derrick. Weight data is converted to masses applied at the correct locations on the derrick.


Wave and current loads generated forces applied to submerged structural members in platforms and floating hulls are analyzed through linear and nonlinear kinematics in accordance with the API RP 2A specifications.

The PSE software computes wave and current forces applied on the structural members. The wave kinematics can be established using either Airy’s linear theory or Fenton’s nonlinear theory.


The linear kinematic theory is valid where the wave height is small compared to the water depth. On the other hand, the nonlinear kinematic theory, proposed by J.D. Fenton, solves the motion equations by representing the velocity potential and surface elevation with a Fourier series. The later method minimizes the error of each parameter governing the wave motion equations and is valid over the entire spectrum.


The PSE software accounts for the following wave profiles and kinematic parameters:
– Wave period
– Incidence angle
– Elevation of the sea bed
– Elevation of the still water line (SWL)
– Kinematic reduction factor
– Crest position criterion
A preview of the wave surface profiles, velocities and accelerations at any point is readily available.

With the PSE software, the current profile is described with respect to the sea bed. The current speed is defined by a set of elevation-velocity-angle triplets and the reduction of the current speed in the vicinity of the structure or the blockage factor is accounted for.
In order to combine the current with the wave profile, the current needs to be stretched, or compressed, to the local wave surface. Two stretching methods are available:
– The linear stretching method, also known as the Wheeler stretching
– The nonlinear method or hyperbolic stretching



According to commentary C.3.2.1 of the design code API RP-2A- 2003, the Doppler effect is accounted for by calculating an apparent period defined as the wave period as seen by an observer moving with the current.


Marine growth increases the cross section diameter and surface roughness of the members, and it is defined by a set of elevation-thickness pairs.

The input for the member wave loads consists of the following six parameters:
– Current profile
– Wave profile
– Marine growth profile
– Drag coefficient
– Inertia coefficient
– Shielding factor



The member forces, calculated using Morison equation, vary according to the position of the waves with respect to the structure. In order to obtain the maximum forces in the members, the critical position of the wave crest is determined by the program.

Structural Analysis Member Offsets


Sign up now to receive more information regarding our technologies, new features, available updates and exclusive offers.


  • SAFI Quality Software, Inc.
    3393 Sainte-Foy Road, Quebec City
    QC, G1X1S7
  • (USA&CAN) 1 800.810.9454
  • + 1 418.654.9454