Pipelines in the service of conveying hot fluid will tend to expand due to pressure and differential temperature. However, since the flowline is generally fixed at the end terminations to rigid structures or equipment, such an expansion will be restricted in longitudinal direction. This is particularly the case for the section remote from the pipe ends, and results in an axial compression in the pipe section. In many cases, a subsea flowline has to be trenched or buried for the purposes of protection and thermal insulation. Consequently, the lateral movement of a flexible flowline is greatly limited, and an upward displacement is encouraged that may become excessive. Eventually, the flowline may lift out of the trench when the uplift resistance provided by the backfill cover and self-weight of the flowline is gradually overcome by the strain energy built up in the flowline. For flexible pipe, it is this excessive upward deformation being termed as the Upheaval Buckling, which can be prevented by employing adequate downward restraint, such as sand bag/rock dump or by designing a subsea pipe route to overcome this phenomenon. In this paper a case study of the full three-dimensional finite element analysis of a trenched but unburied 6.0-inch production flowline is presented following a description of Wellstream Finite Element Method (FEM) based methodology for Upheaval Buckling analysis of flexible pipes. The effect Bending Stiffness Hysteresis and Upheaval Creep–unique to flexible pipe characteristics, is considered in addition to the general loads such as the flowline self-weight and backfill, pretension, pressure, temperature distribution and prescribed forces (either concentrated or distributed) and displacements. The effects of environmental loads, such as the action of currents that would result in scouring off the backfill, can also be addressed. The finite element analysis program package ANSYS was chosen for this case study due to its special feature of ANSYS Parametric Design Language (APDL) and contact/target elements; and the general three-dimensional shell and solid elements were used to represent the flexible pipe and trench soil respectively.

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