In general, gas export pipeline designs have low restrictions concerning the flow assurance requirements, i. e., hydrate formation is not a great concern once processes in production platform facilities can significantly decrease the water content in the gas to be exported. Thus, these pipelines have only a small thickness of a single or multilayer anticorrosive coating and export gas at low temperatures. However, high pressures are required in order to overcome long distances and to increase the production flow rates.
Large diameter gas pipelines submitted to high pressures even with low associated temperatures can be susceptible to global buckling, mainly if the pipelines are simply rested on a seabed of low resistance. This scenario characterizes strictly the gas pipelines installed in Brazilian Pre-Salt fields, where currently a relevant amount of export lines is operating in these conditions. Post-installation and operating pipeline surveys have identified marks on seabed confirming the buckle formation in some gas pipelines. In addition, axial movements of end equipment (PLETs) have been also observed. These issues require at least a verification and confirmation of the assumptions and predictions made in detailed design phase.
This paper aims to present evaluations of the global buckling behavior of large diameter deepwater gas pipelines. Lateral buckles on very soft clayey seabed and displacements in ends and crossing locations are addressed in this work. Finally, numerical analyses confirm that gas pipelines structural integrity has not been jeopardized.