Some offshore production fields require transporting of production fluids through very long submarines pipelines without a previous separation process. In the case of gas production, condensate will appear in the pipeline due to the pressure losses and low temperatures. For some production conditions a slug flow pattern may then develop in the pipeline, and because of the irregular sea bottom profile, there may be pipe unsupported spans of even hundreds of meters long. Therefore, slugs traveling in the pipeline will act as moving loads for the unsupported pipe, producing a dynamic response that in some cases might reduce the fatigue life of the pipeline. In this work, a finite element (FE) model of a pipeline transporting slugs has been developed and used to assess the fatigue life of a horizontal pipeline. Slug hydrodynamic characteristics have been obtained using Taitel & Barnea’s model. The structural FE model is based in Bernoulli beam elements where slugs, once they have been geometrically characterized, are input as moving loads traveling in the pipeline. The system dynamic response was calculated for different spans conditions and slugs characteristics corresponding to different gas-liquid ratios typical from gas field production conditions. Once a steady state condition was obtained in the dynamic response, mean and alternating stress levels were obtained for each analyzed case and introduced in fatigue formulae to obtain the fatigue life of the pipeline. Results show that for some production conditions and free span longitudes, fatigue life of pipeline may experience important reductions due to slug flow. These free spans are obviously most likely to happen in extra long submarines pipelines.

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