Thermal expansion and global buckling is a critical design aspect for subsea flowline systems subjected to high pressure and high temperature (HPHT). In the Gulf of Mexico, HPHT oil/gas production is becoming exceedingly common as drilling and production depths extend deeper. Advanced finite element analysis becomes essential for flowline expansion and buckling design which is highly dependent on pipe-soil interaction behavior. For decades, pipe-soil interaction has been the focus of many research studies and joint industry projects. For HPHT flowline systems, thermal mitigation is decisive for safe design. Thermal mitigation acts to control global buckling at designate locations and avoid buckling in unknown locations. Thermal mitigation results in significant cost savings by lowering the welding class besides the buckling locations and increases safety in terms of local buckling, fracture, and fatigue. One widely used thermal mitigation method involves attaching a buoyancy module around a segment of the flowline. In this paper the Coupled Eulerian Langrangian (CEL) finite element (FE) formulation is utilized to simulate the interaction between soil and the thermal mitigation buoyancy module (TMBM). The paper demonstrates the capability of the CEL FE method to simulate large soil deformation without the numerical difficulties that are commonly associated with other numerical formulations e.g. ALE (Arbitrary Lagrangian Eulerian) or more conventional Lagrangian. Initially, a three dimensional (3D), continuum, FE model is used to establish the variation of initial embedment along the length of the buoyancy and adjoining pipe. The study then establishes the lateral displacement/resistance relationships under different levels of contact pressure and soil embedment for a series of buoyancy-soil interaction segments, also using the CEL FE method. Current practice for global pipeline thermal expansion FEA is to utilize the same friction model for both buoyancy-soil interaction and pipe-soil interaction. The obtained buoyancy-soil interaction model from the current study is to be used as input to the global FE model to more precisely simulate flowline lateral buckling behavior. This paper presents a practical application of the current state of the art in modeling large soil deformations in providing an improved approach for modeling buoyancy-soil interactions in the global FEA of pipeline thermal expansion and lateral buckling.

This content is only available via PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.