Existing industry standards have established the compressive strain capacity of pipelines within an empirical basis. The compressive strain capacity is generally associated with the peak moment. This approach has evolved from elastic stability concepts used in structural engineering for unrestrained pipe segments subject to primary loading (i.e. force or load control) conditions.
This limiting condition does not take advantage of the observed performance for buried pipelines, when subjected to displacement control events such as differential ground movement, where the pipe curvature can exceed the peak moment response without loss of pressure containment integrity.
This inherent conservatism may have a negative impact on project economics or sanction where the compressive strain capacity, rather than tensile rupture limits, governs the strain based design methodology. For these conditions, alternative performance limits defining the pipe compressive strain capacity are required.
A numerical study was conducted, using finite element methods, to examine possible alternative compressive strain criteria for use in strain-based design applications. The results from this study and the requirements to bring these concepts forward through integration with industry recommended practice are presented.