A novel approach to eliminate the onset of global buckling in pipelines is investigated in the paper. The method is based on pre-deforming a pipeline continuously with a specific wavelength and amplitude prior to installation on the seabed. The response of the pipeline to applied high temperature and pressure was studied in conjunction with variations in the lateral pipe-soil interaction (PSI) — both as uniform friction along the pipe and also with locally varying friction.

Pipe and seabed parameters representing a typical wet-insulated infield flow line on soft clay are used. The pre-deformed pipeline has a higher buckle initiation temperature compared to a straight pipeline due to the reduced effective axial force build-up resulting from the low axial stiffness generated by the pre-deformed lobes along the pipeline.

The results from this paper show that the strains in the pre-deformed pipeline are not significantly affected by the local variability of lateral PSI but rather by the global mean PSI. At a typical lateral soil resistance, i.e. a friction coefficient of 0.5, lateral buckling occurs at a very high temperature level that is not common in the subsea operation. At a very low friction, i.e. 0.1, lateral buckling occurs at a lower operating temperature but the strain is insignificant. The longitudinal strain of the pipeline is not highly sensitive to the lateral PSI, which is a quite different response to an initially straight pipeline. Therefore, this method could prove to be a valuable tool for the subsea industry as it enables the pipeline to be installed and operated safely at very high temperatures without the need for lateral buckling design and installation of expensive structures as buckle initiators.

Even if the pre-deformed pipeline buckles at a very high temperature, during cycles of heat-up and cool-down the buckle shape ‘shakes down’ by geometric rearrangement to minimize the energy, and in doing so creates a series of ‘short pipelines’ in which the longitudinal strain is self-controlled.

The system is therefore shown to be very robust in the conditions investigated and not affected by one of the biggest unknowns in seabed pipeline engineering, which is the local variability in lateral PSI.

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