Subsea pipelines are increasingly being required to operate at higher temperatures and pressures. The natural tendency of such a pipeline is to relieve the resulting high axial stress in the pipe-wall by buckling. Uncontrolled buckling can have serious consequences for the integrity of a pipeline. An elegant and cost-effective design solution to this problem is to work with rather than against the pipeline by controlling the formation of lateral buckles along the pipeline. Controlled lateral buckling is a relatively new design option which has matured as more projects have adopted the approach. As with all new design techniques, knowledge and understanding has improved and evolved with design application, installation and operational experience. Methods used to control the formation of lateral buckles include snake lay, vertical upsets, localised weight reduction and local seabed imperfections. Selecting the right buckle initiation method for a flowline can be a complex issue which is influenced by the flowline type, operating conditions, environmental conditions and pipe-soil interaction. Detailed lateral buckling design is normally concerned with achieving reliable buckle formation, minimising the peak strains in the flowline (local buckling) and controlling through life girth weld fatigue. However, as lateral buckling design has progressed, other design challenges have become apparent, which must be considered during design. This paper discusses commonly used buckle initiation methods and focuses on the key design challenges associated with lateral buckling, in the light of feedback from operational experience of recently installed flowlines. Many of the design challenges are common to all initiation methods, such as pipe-soil interaction or girth weld fatigue. However, there are a number of issues which can be specific to a particular buckle control method or pipeline project, these can include sour service operating conditions or complex flow assurance implications. The paper highlights key information required for lateral buckling design and outlines typical test programmes performed to support the design process. Crucially, many of the flowline design issues identified in this paper have been identified as a result of lessons learnt from operational experience. This affirms the importance of rigorous visual inspection and survey to monitor the performance of flowlines during the first months and years after start-up.

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