Subsea pipelines lateral buckling design has significantly evolved over the last years as more pipeline projects have moved into more challenging environments and into high temperature / high pressure (HT/HP) design application. Knowledge and understanding of pipeline lateral buckling has improved with design application resulting in refined and enhanced design approaches. Using current design approaches, it is now quite acceptable to control lateral buckle formation along the pipeline by using buckle triggers or to allow uncontrolled lateral buckles, provided that the various design limit states are satisfied.

A number of design methodologies can be used to check the acceptability of uncontrolled buckling or to design for controlled buckling including deterministic, probabilistic buckle formation and full Structural Reliability Assessment (SRA) methods. Using SRA or probabilistic methods is usually an attractive design option as lateral buckling design involves dealing with a large number of uncertainties and variation in design parameters. These methods help to ensure the reliability of the proposed buckle initiation scheme. However, the use of these methods is also associated with a number of challenges such as the need to identify key parameters influencing the design and quantifying their uncertainties. Deterministic design approaches on the other hand are simpler to apply. However, they do not provide means to quantify the reliability of the proposed buckling scheme or the design risks. The choice of input parameters in a deterministic design is also relatively subjective which can possibly result in an overly conservative or unconservative design solution depending on the adopted design approach, selected design parameters and pipeline system being considered.

Design guidelines and recommended practices such as SAFEBUCK (20) offer comprehensive guidelines to design for lateral buckling. However when faced with a range of complex variables, the designer needs to be aware of the effect of these parameters on the overall design.

This paper describes the application of Deterministic and Probabilistic design approaches in lateral buckling design. The paper starts by describing these approaches, their advantages and limitations. The paper then explores a number of key uncertainties and variation in design parameters that the designer is faced with and its effect on the pipeline response.

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