Ensuring pipeline stability is a fundamental aspect of subsea pipeline design and can contribute a significant proportion of project costs in regions with large diameter trunklines, shallow water and severe geotechnical and metocean conditions [1]. Reducing the conservatism and simplifications of existing pipeline stabilisation design methods therefore offers economic benefits to hydrocarbon producers necessary to ensure the ongoing viability of projects in these regions. To realise this potential and reduce the conservatism of the existing design methods, a more accurate understanding of the hydrodynamic loads exerted by waves and currents is required.

This paper investigates one of the inherent assumptions incorporated into the existing design methods through the arrangement of previous experimental investigations to determine whether rectilinear motion provides a reasonable approximation to simulate the near seabed orbital particle paths in wind-generated waves. This assumption is based on the flattening of particle paths to ellipsoids with depth and ignores the small vertical velocity components near the seabed. Based on the hydrodynamic forces calculated numerically using a validated Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) model for rectilinear and orbital wave modelling it is concluded that pipeline stabilisation requirements calculated in accordance with the DNV-RP-F109 absolute lateral static stability design method and rectilinear wave motion assumption are conservative. It is also concluded that the hydrodynamic force asymmetry in favour of the reverse half wave cycle caused by the vertical velocity components in orbital wave conditions requires further consideration to determine the implication for dynamic lateral stability design methods.

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