The objective of this paper is to illustrate the basic principles, the methodology and the potential with respect to application of structural reliability methods for design of offshore pipelines. The method provides a rational tool to include operational experience and new research findings into the design process. This is achieved by introducing appropriate design criteria which are determined from acceptable safety levels for relevant limiting conditions. Focus is on development of reliability based design criteria as a rational way to manage future offshore projects with an optimal balance between project safety and economy. Finally, some examples of application are given. 16 refs., 5 figs., 9 tabs.