Abstract

This paper is based on the experience made during the design and installation of an offshore pipeline recently completed in Indonesia, where a 24” subsea production pipeline (16km long in 70m water depth) was found susceptible during design to lateral buckling.

Buckling is a well understood phenomenon. However, this project was characterized by major uncertainties mainly driven by soil characterization, soil zonation, soil-pipe interaction, seabed mobility and seabed liquefaction. These uncertainties have played a key role in the in-service buckling design. In particular, extreme pipeline embedment scenarios ranging from fully exposed to fully covered (due to natural sand transportation) were accounted with a significant impact on soil-pipe interaction.

To limit the development of excessive strain within the acceptance criteria, a mitigation strategy based on interacting planned buckles has been adopted installing three Buckle Initiators (BI) along the pipeline route. During design great efforts have been spent with the aim to demonstrate the robustness of the proposed solution.

3-D FEM simulations with ABAQUS have been performed taking into account the pipeline route including route curves and the sea bottom profile and the buckle initiators with their main geometries. All uncertainties have been considered following a deterministic approach. The impact of environmental and accidental loads due to a potential trawl-gear interaction were assessed as well.

The pipeline susceptibility to lateral and/or upheaval buckling along the sandwave areas has been analyzed as well in order to evaluate the need of mitigation measures suitable to freeze the pipeline configuration during the operating life.

Finally, once the lateral buckling design philosophy was established, the cyclic expansion and walking behavior of the pipeline were assessed to verify the pipeline structural integrity at buckles, route curve pull-out and the accumulative pipeline expansion at spools.

This paper presents all main engineering aspects faced during design and first feedbacks from field after the pipeline installation.

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