The on-bottom stability design of subsea pipelines and cables is important to ensure safety and reliability but can be challenging to achieve, particularly for renewable energy projects which are preferentially located in high energy metocean environments. Often these conditions lead to the seabed being stripped of all loose sediment, leaving the cables to rest on exposed bedrock where roughness features can be similar in size to the cables. As offshore renewable energy projects progress from concept demonstration to commercial-scale developments, new approaches are needed to capture the relevant physics for small diameter cables on rocky seabeds to reduce the costs and risks of export power transmission and increase operational reliability. These same considerations also apply to the cables and small diameter pipes — such as umbilicals — required by oil and gas projects located on rocky seabeds.

Recent experimental testing using the University of Western Australia’s unique Large O-tube has enabled the experimental measurement of hydrodynamic forces on small diameter cables and pipes in proximity to smooth and rough beds. The tested conditions extend well beyond the existing published parameter range including much higher KC conditions together with seabed roughness which is comparable in size to the diameter. The results provide design data of great relevance to the ongoing development of marine renewable and conventional oil and gas projects, especially on rocky seabeds. This paper presents a summary of the existing knowledge on the subject as a preface to preliminary test results and gives tentative conclusions on the likely outcomes from this work.

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