The traditional method of foundation stability assessment for subsea structures is to calculate the bearing capacity factor of safety using classical approach given in the API-RP-2A/2GEO. This classical approach can be overly conservative for foundations under complex loading conditions (e.g., multiple interacting loads). A typical example is pipeline end manifold or flowline sled, which can be subject to self-weight, structure-soil interaction, and multiple interface loads from flowline and jumpers under operational condition.
A more rigorous 3D-FEA based assessment approach is developed in this paper to achieve more accurate bearing capacity estimates for a flowline sled supported by mudmat. This fully combined global model comprises the structure (with sliding mechanism), soil foundation, jumpers, and flowline as realistically as possible so as to capture the more accurate interactions among the different parts of whole sled-soil system. The use of such advanced numerical modeling has proven to improve the mudmat bearing capacity factor of safety.