Rigid pipelay vessels use two types of equipment to hold the pipe under tension while it is being deployed on the seabed: tensioners and hang-off clamps (HOC). Tensioners are used to maintain tension while paying out the pipe behind the vessel, while the HOC holds the pipe statically during welding operations. For both pieces of equipment, the tension is held through frictional pads in contact with the pipe.

With the necessity to reach greater water depths leading to an overall increase of pipeline weights and stiffness (and therefore top tension), the installation of rigid pipelines has become more challenging. In other cases, such as pipe-in-pipe (PiP), carrier pipe wall thicknesses are often optimised as much as possible while lower grade materials are selected to reduce costs, making it more difficult to provide pipelay equipment settings that can satisfy both grip and pipe local integrity requirements. Simple hand calculations and basic equipment modelling are not sufficient to provide safe equipment settings and optimised allowable sea states. The new DNVGL-ST-N001 [1] (Marine Operations and Marine Warranty) also increases scrutiny on pipelay equipment and pipe interaction, making it imperative to develop more in-depth methodologies for settings calculation.

This paper gives an overview of a robust methodology for pipelay equipment settings and demonstrates through practical examples how it improves safety while optimising operations, therefore enabling more efficient pipelay operations and reducing waiting on weather.

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