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Lateral buckling and pipeline walking,

a challenge for hot pipelines

Malcolm Carr
David Bruton
and
David Leslie
of

Boreas Consultants

Offshore Pipeline Technology Conference 2003


Amsterdam

Offshore Pipeline Technology

Lateral buckling and pipeline walking, a challenge for hot pipelines


Carr, M., Bruton, D. and Leslie, D.

1.

ABSTRACT

Subsea pipelines are increasingly being required to operate at high temperatures


and pressures. The natural tendency of a pipeline is to relieve the resulting high
axial stress in the pipe-wall by buckling. Such uncontrolled buckling can have
serious consequences for the integrity of a pipeline. Consequently, to date, the
industry has sought to restrain pipelines by trenching and burying, or relieving the
stress with in-line expansion spools.
A far more elegant and cost-effective solution is to work with rather than against
the pipeline by controlling the formation of lateral buckles along the pipeline.
Controlled lateral buckling is an efficient solution to the relief of axial compression.
Indeed, as temperature and pressures increase further, lateral buckling may be
the only economic solution.
A challenge for high temperature pipelines that is sometimes overlooked, is the
control of pipeline walking (axial ratcheting). Walking can be caused by thermal
transients or the presence of a steel catenary riser, potentially leading to jumper or
riser failure. Recent design solutions have addressed the control of walking and
the interaction that occurs between pipeline walking and lateral buckling.
This paper outlines the issues associated with the interaction of pipeline lateral
buckling and the pipeline walking phenomena and discusses the solutions adopted
for some recent pipeline and pipe-in-pipe system projects.

OPT 2003

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Offshore Pipeline Technology

Lateral buckling and pipeline walking, a challenge for hot pipelines


Carr, M., Bruton, D. and Leslie, D.

2.

INTRODUCTION

Subsea pipelines are increasingly being required to operate at high temperatures


and pressures.

Planned developments indicate that this trend is continuing,

Figure 1.
170
160
150

Design Temperature (C)

140

Trend

Bundles
Buried
On-Bottom
Intermediate Spools
Trend

Erskine 1 *

* Pipe-in-pipe

Tambar

Asgard
Embla

130

Jade *
Franklin

Heron *

Teal

120

Cook *
Erskine 2 *

Kingfisher
Brae

Dunbar *
Birch

110

Pelican
Thelma
Mallard *

Ellon

100

Orion
90

Guillemot W *
BitternHalfdan

Alwyn NE *

80

ECA (10")
Halfdan

70
1989

1991

1993

1995

1997

1999

2001

King *
2003

2005

Start-up

Figure 1

Trend in pipeline inlet design temperature

Pipelines operating at high temperature have a high propensity to Euler (columntype) global buckling.

The pipeline could buckle either vertically (upheaval

buckling), or horizontally (lateral buckling). It is usual for lateral buckling to occur


at lower axial force than vertical buckling, unless the pipeline is trenched or buried.
Designing for upheaval buckling, or lateral buckling, are radically different design
approaches.

Upheaval buckling is prevented by restraining the pipeline with

sufficient backfill. Conversely lateral buckling can be used as a mechanism to


relieve high axial compression in the pipeline.

OPT 2003

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Offshore Pipeline Technology

Lateral buckling and pipeline walking, a challenge for hot pipelines


Carr, M., Bruton, D. and Leslie, D.

Lateral buckling has long been recognised as a phenomenon in pipeline


engineering.

The earliest manifestations of the phenomenon were entirely

unplanned. Even to this day, uncontrolled buckling occurs on many lowly-loaded


systems such as export pipelines, without being planned for in design.

Figure 2

Typical Lateral Buckle from Side-scan Sonar Image

As a result of the relatively benign behaviour of these systems, lateral buckling


was viewed as an attractive design solution and a number of systems have been
designed to lateral buckle. However, as design conditions of pipeline systems
becomes more severe, with further increases in temperature and pressure, lateral
buckling may be the only economic solution.
Recent projects have developed better ways to control lateral buckling in high
temperature lines.

However, alongside these successes, concerns have been

raised over the associated challenge of pipeline walking. Pipeline walking is a


phenomenon in which start-up/shut-down cycles cause a ratcheting response in
the pipeline axial displacement. Over a number of cycles this ratcheting can lead
to very large global axial displacement with associated overload of the spool piece
or jumper. Walking behaviour has also been identified as a challenge for short
pipelines attached to an SCR (steel catenary riser).
This paper outlines the issues associated with the interaction of pipeline lateral
buckling and the pipeline walking phenomena.

OPT 2003

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Offshore Pipeline Technology

Lateral buckling and pipeline walking, a challenge for hot pipelines


Carr, M., Bruton, D. and Leslie, D.

3.

EFFECTIVE FORCE AND GLOBAL PIPELINE RESPONSE

3.1

Effective Force and Expansion of Straight Pipelines

A pipeline laid on the seabed and operated at pressure and temperature above
ambient will tend to expand.

If the expansion is restrained in some way, for

example by the frictional restraint of the seabed, then an axial compressive force
will develop in the pipeline. For a straight pipeline the force developed in the
pipeline is illustrated in Figure 3.

1
0.9
0.8

S/S0max

0.7
Virtual
Anchor

0.6
0.5
0.4

Free Ends

0.3

Fixed Ends

0.2
0.1
0
0

Figure 3

0.2

0.4

x/L 0.6

0.8

Effective Axial Force in a Straight Pipeline

The force profile presented in Figure 3 is the effective axial force in the pipeline.
This is the force that drives the structural response and is made up of the (true)
force in the pipe wall and the pressure induced axial force.
The formula given for effective force in the DNV code

[1]

is presented in a way that

often causes confusion, particularly in terms of external pressure, which is critical


to applications in deepwater. Errors are common, leading to under-estimates of

OPT 2003

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Offshore Pipeline Technology

Lateral buckling and pipeline walking, a challenge for hot pipelines


Carr, M., Bruton, D. and Leslie, D.

effective force in the pipe. The effective force in a pipeline should be defined
(using nomenclature defined in Appendix A) as:S = Sw + pe Ae pi Ai ...................................................................................... 3.1
For a straight pipeline with fixed ends the axial strain is zero everywhere and the
force developed in the system is known as the fully constrained effective force,
which is usually defined (based upon thick wall shell theory) as:S0 = SL + (pe Ae pi Ai ) (1 2 ) E As T .............................................. 3.2
However, this equation assumes that the pipeline is on the seabed before the
external pressure is applied. In reality external pressure is imposed in the lay
catenary, thus this component of effective axial force is incorporated into the
residual lay tension and the equation is modified to:S 0 = S L (p i A i ) (1 2 ) E A s T ............................................................. 3.3
This equation shows that restrained effective force is independent of external
hydrostatic pressure. However, external pressure influences the load distribution
due to hoop stress and the wall force can be significantly modified by it. The wall
force is calculated from the effective force through equation 3.1.
The influence of external pressure is particularly important in deep water and leads
to an increase (more compression) in the pipe wall.

This can be particularly

important in a buckle sensitive pipeline and must be incorporated into design


modelling. This is also the reason that a pipeline in deep water is installed on the
seabed with a non-zero (compressive) axial strain.
Since pressure and temperature vary along the pipeline length, the fully
constrained force also varies with length (as the pipe cools and the temperature
falls the effective axial force becomes smaller). This is shown in Figure 3 by the
fall in the curve between x=0 and x=L.

Within Figure 3 the axial force is

normalised against S0max, the fully constrained force at x=0 (pipeline inlet). As a
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Offshore Pipeline Technology

Lateral buckling and pipeline walking, a challenge for hot pipelines


Carr, M., Bruton, D. and Leslie, D.

result of this normalisation the response is drawn positive, however the effective
axial force is a compressive force (normally shown negative).
For the pipeline with free ends the effective axial force is zero at the ends1 and
gradually increases due to the frictional restraint of the seabed. The slope of the
force profile in the slip zones is defined by the axial friction2, W. At some point
the frictional restraint is sufficient to suppress any expansion and the axial strain in
the pipe is zero. Clearly, the force at this point is the fully constrained effective
force defined above.
A similar response occurs at the cold end of the pipeline and the figure shows that
the system develops a fully constrained section in the middle of the pipeline
bounded by virtual anchor points.

Expansion takes place between the virtual

anchor and the pipeline end.


If the pipeline is short, the overall length may be insufficient to fully restrain the
pipeline; as illustrated in Figure 4.

If the pipeline is connected into expansion spoolpieces, there will be a reaction to expansion that
means that the effective force at the end has a small compressive value.

This assumes that the friction is fully mobilised. For very small axial slip (or large mobilisation
distances) the slope can be lower than the limiting value, i.e. W is not fully attained.

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Offshore Pipeline Technology

Lateral buckling and pipeline walking, a challenge for hot pipelines


Carr, M., Bruton, D. and Leslie, D.

1
0.9
0.8

Virtual
Anchor

S/S0max

0.7
0.6
0.5
0.4
0.3

Free Ends

0.2

Fixed Ends

0.1
0
0

Figure 4

0.2

0.4

x/L 0.6

0.8

Effective Axial Force in a Short Straight Pipeline

A free-ended short pipeline never reaches a position of full constraint. Instead the
pipeline forms a virtual anchor close to the centre and expands outwards from this
point. In this case the displacement at the virtual anchor is zero, but the axial
strain is not. The maximum axial force in the pipeline can be significantly below
the fully constrained force.
This defines two groups of pipelines:Long pipelines which develop the fully constrained axial force;
Short - pipelines that never develop the fully constrained axial force
3.2

Lateral Buckling Response of Pipelines

If the compressive effective axial force is large enough, then the pipeline will
undergo Euler buckling. If the pipeline is laid on a relatively flat seabed, then
buckling tends to be in the horizontal plane (lateral buckling). The problem of
lateral buckling in pipelines was first considered by Hobbs[2,3].

Experiments

performed as part of his work observed that the pipeline can deform into a number
of different lateral mode shapes; the most common of which are illustrated in
Figure 5.

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Offshore Pipeline Technology

Lateral buckling and pipeline walking, a challenge for hot pipelines


Carr, M., Bruton, D. and Leslie, D.

Mode 1

Mode 2

Mode 4

Mode 3

Figure 5

Lateral Buckling Modes

The actual mode adopted by the pipeline depends upon a number of factors
including the pipeline out-of-straightness (OOS) and local seabed lateral restraint
levels.

The Hobbs methodology is well established and is summarised and

compared with actual behaviour in a number of published papers from the mid
1980s [4, 5].
If a pipeline is allowed to buckle, the development of effective force is modified as
pipe feeds in to the buckle. The force in the buckle drops as the buckle develops.
Buckle Spacing, D

S/S0max

1
0.9
0.8
0.7
0.6
0.5
0.4
0.3

Virtual
Anchor

Virtual
Anchor

Buckle

Straight

0.2
0.1
0

Buckled

Figure 6
OPT 2003

0.2

0.4

x/L 0.6

0.8

Axial Force Distribution - Isolated Buckle with Fixed Ends


Page 9 of 35

Offshore Pipeline Technology

Lateral buckling and pipeline walking, a challenge for hot pipelines


Carr, M., Bruton, D. and Leslie, D.

Figure 6 shows the situation when a buckle forms at a location near the centre of a
pipeline. The drop in force at the buckle causes pipe to feed-in to the buckle. At
the end of the feed-in zone the pipeline once again reaches a condition of full
constraint. This produces an isolated buckle, essentially anchored at each end.
It is possible that more than one buckle forms in the system, this response is
illustrated in Figure 6, where the pipeline has formed three buckles (the number of
buckles is entirely case dependant).
Straight
1

Buckled

0.9

Virtual
Anchor

0.8

S/S0max

0.7

Virtual
Anchor

Virtual
Anchor

Virtual
Anchor

0.6
0.5

Buckle
Spacing, D1

0.4
0.3

Buckle
Spacing, D2

Buckle
Spacing, D3

0.2
0.1
0
0

Figure 7

0.2

0.4

x/L 0.6

0.8

Axial Force Distribution Multiple Buckles; Free End

In all slip zones the slope of the force profile is governed by the axial friction.
Between adjacent buckles there must be a virtual anchor point at which the
direction of pipe expansion changes. However, there is also an interaction at the
ends, between the end expansion and the buckle formation.

This effectively

divides the pipe up into three short pipelines anchored at each end and a discrete
series of isolated buckles between anchor points.
The response for a short free-ended pipeline is illustrated in Figure 8.

OPT 2003

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Offshore Pipeline Technology

Lateral buckling and pipeline walking, a challenge for hot pipelines


Carr, M., Bruton, D. and Leslie, D.

Straight
Buckled

S/S0max

1
0.9
0.8

Virtual Anchor

Virtual Anchor
Buckle Spacing, D

0.7
0.6
0.5
0.4
0.3

Buckle

0.2
0.1
0
0

Figure 8

0.2

0.4

x/L

0.6

0.8

Axial Force Distribution in a Short Pipeline - Free End

In this case the buckle spacing is limited by the length of the pipeline in general
D< L/2. As a consequence, the loads developed in very short pipelines (if they are
sensitive to buckling at all) may well be self limiting.

OPT 2003

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Offshore Pipeline Technology

Lateral buckling and pipeline walking, a challenge for hot pipelines


Carr, M., Bruton, D. and Leslie, D.

4.

PIPE WALKING

4.1

Background

Pipeline walking can occur for short free-ended pipelines subject to high thermal
cyclic loading

[6]

The conventional expansion response of a short pipeline

involves a virtual anchor point close to the centre of the line and expansion from
this anchor towards each end of the pipe (as illustrated in Figure 4 on page 8).
After early start-up/shut-down, the cyclic expansion is of constant amplitude.
However, if start-up/shut-down cycles involve significant thermal gradients then
axial ratcheting of the pipeline can occur, with displacement towards the cold end.
Over a number of cycles this movement can lead to very large global axial
displacement with associated overload of the spool piece or jumper.

This

cumulative axial displacement is described as pipe walking.


This mechanism has caused a loss of containment failure in the North Sea. In this
case walking occurred in a number of 2km long infield flowlines. Due to the high
number of shutdowns imposed on the lines, over 7m of cumulative axial
displacement was observed at the end of the lines (compared with a design
expansion of 2m).
4.2

Thermal Transients

The key to the walking phenomenon is the transient thermal profile developed
during heat-up. As hot fluids enter the cold pipeline, heat is lost to the surrounding
seawater and the fluid quickly cools to ambient temperature.

With time, the

pipeline gradually warms until hot fluid is discharged at the far end of the line. A
typical transient temperature profile is illustrated in Figure 9.

OPT 2003

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Offshore Pipeline Technology

Lateral buckling and pipeline walking, a challenge for hot pipelines


Carr, M., Bruton, D. and Leslie, D.

140
15

120
Temperature (deg C)

14

100

12

13

11

80

10
9

Heating steps
60

8
7

40

6
5

20

3
1

Figure 9

500

1000
Distance (m)

1500

2000

Pipeline Start-up Transient Temperature Profiles

Such temperature profiles are non-linear because the pipeline is not heated
uniformly along its length, rather the temperature rise advances along the
pipeline over a period of time. This leads to a non-linear displacement response
for all points along the pipeline.
When a pipeline is shut-down, flow ceases and the fluid cools gradually along the
whole pipeline, as heat is lost to the surrounding seawater. This leads to a linear
load response during the cool-down process.
4.3

Pipe Walking Mechanism

Walking behaviour occurs as the pipeline is heated, and expands asymmetrically,


until the point when pipeline expansion is fully mobilised.

Expansion is fully

mobilised when a virtual anchor forms near the centre of the pipeline. The virtual
anchor is then stationary, while pipe to each side expands away from the anchor
as the temperature continues to rise. Once expansion is fully mobilised, walking
ceases for that cycle.

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Offshore Pipeline Technology

Lateral buckling and pipeline walking, a challenge for hot pipelines


Carr, M., Bruton, D. and Leslie, D.

An example of the cyclic displacement at the mid-point on a pipeline is shown in


Figure 10.

0.08
0.07

Third Cycle

0.06
Second Cycle

Displacement (m)

0.05
0.04
0.03
0.02

First Cycle

0.01
0
-0.01

20

40

60

80

100

120

140

Temperature (deg C)

Figure 10

Temperature v Displacement plot at the middle of line

Very little permanent axial displacement occurs on the first load cycle because the
initial application of operating pressure provides enough effective force to almost
fully mobilise pipeline expansion.
Only after subsequent cool down and heat up cycles, without pressure cycling, is
significant pipeline walking is observed. In this example, the rate of walking is
about 20mm per cycle, towards the cold end of the line.
4.4

Force Response

Figure 11 shows the effective axial force developed over the 1st heat up and cooldown cycle.

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Offshore Pipeline Technology

Lateral buckling and pipeline walking, a challenge for hot pipelines


Carr, M., Bruton, D. and Leslie, D.

300000

Cool to ambient

200000

Effective Axial Force (N)

Cooling
100000

0
0

250

500

750

1000

1250

Heat-up
load step

1500

1750

2000

Heating
Pressurised

-100000
4
5
-200000

6
7
9 to 15

-300000

Distance (m)

Figure 11

Effective Axial Force along pipeline for initial heat up and


cool down

The initial application of internal pressure is almost enough to mobilise the friction
force over the whole pipeline. When the pipeline is heated up the effective axial
force builds, until the pipeline is fully mobilised after the 8th heating step. Although
pipeline expansion continues thereafter, there is no change in the force profile up
to the 15th heating step. Uniform cooling of the pipeline leads to the friction force
reversing in response to pipe contraction, and the effective force becomes tensile.
The effective force profiles during the 2nd heat up cycle are illustrated in Figure 12,
again pipeline expansion is fully mobilised after the 8th heating step.

OPT 2003

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Offshore Pipeline Technology

Lateral buckling and pipeline walking, a challenge for hot pipelines


Carr, M., Bruton, D. and Leslie, D.

300000

Heat-up load step


200000

Cooling
Effective Axial Force (N)

1
100000

3
0
0

250

-100000

500

750

1000

1250

1500

1750

2000

Heating
6
-200000
7
8
9 to 15
-300000

Distance (m)

Figure 12

Effective Axial Force along pipeline - subsequent heat up

Subsequent cyclic transient heating causes the pipeline to walk towards the cold
end at a uniform rate. The reason that permanent axial displacement occurs is
related to the hysteresis response of the axial pipe-soil interaction. The pipeline
expands outwards from the peak maximum effective force, which is gradually
moving from the hot-end towards mid-line. As the compressive force builds up,
each point on the line feeds a small amount towards the cold-end before the peak
passes, when it can expand towards the hot-end. The soil plastic response means
that this displacement is non-recoverable. This process continues until the peak
force reaches mid-line, when the pipeline becomes fully mobilised. Displacement
towards the cold end also increases after the first cycle because the hot-end (on
one side of the peak) is in compression while the cold-end (on the other side of the
peak) remains in tension.

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Offshore Pipeline Technology

Lateral buckling and pipeline walking, a challenge for hot pipelines


Carr, M., Bruton, D. and Leslie, D.

The steepness of the thermal transients and axial friction significantly affect the
incremental walking displacement, as shown in Table 1.

Axial Friction Coefficient


Gradient of thermal
transient (C/km)

0.2

0.4

0.6

3.36

5.65

3.16

2.09

33.6

140.4

210.5

214.9

Table 1

Cyclic Walking Displacement for a Free-Ended 4km pipeline


with a submerged weight of 1224N/m (mm/cycle)

This example shows that cyclic axial displacement increases with frictional
resistance at a high thermal gradient, whilst at a low thermal gradient it decreases.
The exact details of the pipe-soil interaction are also very important in determining
the magnitude of the walking increment. The last example in the above table
reduces from 214.9mm/cycle to 193.4mm/cycle for an increase in elastic slip (the
initial elastic frictional response of the soil, which occurs before the pipe slides)
from 4mm to 10mm.
4.5

Control of Walking by Operational Procedures

It is clear that walking could be reduced by more gradual warming of the pipelines
to control the steepness of transient profiles. However this is often not possible for
operational reasons and the reluctance to extend shut-down recovery times.
Walking could also be reduced by re-pressurising the pipeline before each startup. Dropping and re-raising the pressure before heating the line would ensure that
expansion is partially or fully mobilised before pipeline heating begins. If the line is
short enough and the pressure high enough to fully mobilised expansion then
walking would be eliminated entirely. However, once again this start-up procedure
may not be feasible for operational reasons.

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Offshore Pipeline Technology

Lateral buckling and pipeline walking, a challenge for hot pipelines


Carr, M., Bruton, D. and Leslie, D.

4.6

Control of Walking Using Anchors

An anchor installed at some point along the line can be used to prevent a pipeline
from walking due to cyclic thermal loading.
From a practical point of view it is easier to install an anchor at the end of a
pipeline. In principal a start-up pile could be used as an anchor. However there
may also be an advantage in installing a mid-line anchor or using a mid-line rockdump to control walking.
Analysis has shown that the maximum anchor reaction force for a rigid anchor,
whether installed at either end of the line, corresponds to the axial friction force
built up over the length of the line (WL).
This force can be significant. For a typical 3km pipeline with a submerged weight
of 1000kN/m and axial friction of 0.6, an anchor with a capacity of 1800kN (183t)
would be required. Placing the anchor mid-line can halve the required anchor
capacity and finding the optimum location along the pipeline can reduce it further.
However, design and installation of mid-line anchors with such a capacity raises a
number of technical and structural challenges.
Anchor capacities are reduced further by incorporating anchor flexibility in the
analysis. The more flexibility in the anchor, the greater the displacement under
load, which reduces the force applied to the anchor. Selecting the appropriate
anchor force-displacement response is an iterative process under these design
conditions.

OPT 2003

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Offshore Pipeline Technology

Lateral buckling and pipeline walking, a challenge for hot pipelines


Carr, M., Bruton, D. and Leslie, D.

5.

BUCKLING - WALKING INTERACTION

Recent work has examined the interaction between lateral buckling and walking on
both short and long pipelines. The issue with long pipelines is that essentially the
same condition exists between regular buckles, as a short pipeline with free ends.
Thermal expansion and contraction occurs between the buckles, in a similar way
to free ends.

Consequently, there is a realistic concern that a long laterally

buckled pipeline could undergo walking.


5.1.1

Buckling Shape and Force Distribution

The line being examined is a 12-inch 5km pipeline with free end conditions, which
is conducive to walking behaviour. Development of the buckle shape during initial
pressurisation and heating is illustrated in Figure 13. This model included nonlinear pipe-soil friction response

[7]

. By the time the temperature of this line has

reached 43.9C, the pipe has buckled and the deformed shape can be categorised
as an isolated mode 3, or perhaps mode 5, buckle (mode shapes are defined in
Figure 5).
6

T=121.1
T=104.9
T=94.8

T=84.7
T=66.1

X (m)

T=43.9

0
2350

2400

2450

2500

2550

2600

2650

2700

Y (m)

-2
-4
-6

Figure 13
OPT 2003

Non-Linear pipe soil


friction

Asymmetric Growth During Heat-up; 44C to 121C


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Offshore Pipeline Technology

Lateral buckling and pipeline walking, a challenge for hot pipelines


Carr, M., Bruton, D. and Leslie, D.

As the temperature increases above 66C, the right-hand lobe begins to grow
faster than the left hand lobe of the buckle. By the time the full design temperature
is reached, the mode shape, although essentially mode-3, has significant
asymmetry.
Development of the effective axial force profile during initial pressurisation, heating
and buckling is illustrated in Figure 14.
x (m)

Effective Force (MN)

-.2

1000

2000

-.4

3000

4000

5000

T=121.1

-.6

P only

-.8
P only

-1.

T=21.0
T=34.0

-1.2

T=43.9
-1.4

T=84.7

-1.6

T=121.1

Figure 14

Axial Force During Heat-up

It is clear that the pipeline is not fully mobilised under pressure alone. The level of
force which occurs prior to buckling at 21C is about 1.4 MN.
The analysis is then extended to include transient thermal cycling, to evaluate the
potential for pipe to walk into or through the buckle.
The key to any pipe walking behaviour is the gradient of the transient thermal
profiles used to heat the pipeline. The profiles used in this example are shown in
Figure 15.

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Offshore Pipeline Technology

Lateral buckling and pipeline walking, a challenge for hot pipelines


Carr, M., Bruton, D. and Leslie, D.

140
120

Temperature (C)

100
80
60

Heating steps

40
20
0
0

Figure 15

1000

2000

x (m)

3000

4000

5000

Thermal profiles used for the analysis

The displaced shape of the buckled section of the pipeline is shown in Figure 16.

Cycle 1
Cycle 2

Cycle 3

Y (m)

Cycle 4
Cycle 5

2
X (m)

Cycle 7

2350
-2
-4

Cycle 6

2400

2450

2500

2550

2600

2650

2700 Cycle 8
Cycle 9

Cycle 1
Cycle 11

Cycle 10
Cycle 11

-6

Figure 16

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Mode shapes of buckle throughout the analysis

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Offshore Pipeline Technology

Lateral buckling and pipeline walking, a challenge for hot pipelines


Carr, M., Bruton, D. and Leslie, D.

Each of the traces represents the shape of the buckle at the end of a heat-up
cycle, with the first cycle being equivalent to the final mode shape of Figure 13.
The figure shows that the initial two or three cycles cause the buckle mode shape
to change to a fully developed mode-2 or possibly mode-4 shape.

For the

remaining cycles the mode shape is relatively constant.


The changes of buckle mode-shape demonstrate the instabilities of buckle
formation. Further variability can be expected with changes in initial imperfection
shape or soil response.
5.2

Axial Displacement

The axial displacement response of the centre of the line is shown in Figure 17.

Cycle 11

Axial Displacement (m)

0.9
0.8

Cycle 5

Middle

0.7

Cycle 3

0.6

Cycle 2

0.5
0.4
0.3
0.2
0.1

Load

0
0

Figure 17

Cycle 1

Unload

20

40

60
Inlet Temp (C)

80

100

120

Temperature versus axial displacement response of middle


node of model

The response starts at the bottom left of Figure 17. The load step for each cycle
lies below the unload step. For the initial heat up there is no movement of the
centre-point initially as expected since this is a point of symmetry for a
symmetric buckle shape. At a temperature of about 70C, the central point starts
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to displace axially.

This temperature ties-in with the development of the

asymmetry in the mode shape, as illustrated in Figure 13. At full load in cycle 1
the central node has displaced approximately 0.2m (8-inch) towards the cold end
this is due to the asymmetric buckle shape developed. This initial displacement is
not part of the walking phenomena if a symmetric mode had developed then the
displacement at this point would have been zero. This is reflected in the unload
response, in which the displacement essentially returns to zero.
From this point on, all heat-up steps are performed using the thermal profiles of
Figure 15. On the 2nd heat-up cycle much more axial displacement is developed
at the central node; a significant proportion of this is associated with the changing
mode shape. However, on unload the displacement does not return to zero; this is
a true measure of the walking phenomena. As the cycling continues, the response
starts to stabilise and the displacement increment at full load tends towards the
value at shut down.
Over the course of the analysis the incremental distance walked at each cycle
converges to a constant level of 0.028m at the hot end, 0.027m in the middle and
0.025m at the cold end.
Because pipe on the hotter side of the buckle experiences the steepest transient
temperature profiles, this hotter pipe is displaced further with each cycle than the
pipe on the colder side of the buckle. Therefore the length of pipe in the buckle
increases by about 3mm with each cycle.

As a result the buckle grows and

changes shape with each cycle.


If this pattern continued over the operating life of the pipeline, the distance walked
per cycle would stabilise at around 0.027m, which for a typical 500 cycle design
life would total 13.5m. This also suggests that the basic walking response will
persist even when the pipeline is buckled.

However, although the pipe will

essentially walk through the buckle; the length of pipe in the buckle will also
increase by 1.5 m over 500 cycles, in this example.

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Carr, M., Bruton, D. and Leslie, D.

The main concern from this interaction is therefore the cumulative axial
displacement.
5.3

Strain Response

The analysis results presented above clearly indicate that a pipeline buckle will not
prevent walking. A key question is then does the walking lead to increased loads
within the buckle. The strain history developed in the pipeline (3 oclock position)
is presented in Figure 18.

0.35%

Cycle 1
Cycle 1

Cycle 2

Axial Strain

0.25%

Cycle 3
Cycle 11

0.15%

Cycle 5
Cycle 6

0.05%

-0.05%2400

Cycle 4

Cycle 7
2450

2500

2550

2600

2650
X (m)

-0.15%

Cycle 8
2700
Cycle 9
Cycle 10
Cycle 11

-0.25%

Figure 18

Axial Strain History

The figure shows the axial strain at each cycle. The strain in cycle 1 and cycle 11
are emboldened to illustrate the change. The response is somewhat complicated
by the changing mode shape but with each load cycle, the peak strain developed
in the system reduces. Indeed, for the later cycles the strain distribution is almost
constant, suggesting that the walking is not increasing the severity of the
response.
This conclusion may not be universal. It will depend upon the lateral pipe-soil
interaction for example the build-up of soil berms could act to limit the changing
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mode shape and produce increasing strain. In addition, the analysis does not
extend over sufficient cycles to evaluate the response when very large feed-in
occurs (for example the 1.5 m quoted above). Clearly further work is required to
address these phenomena.
5.3.1

Effect of Pressure Cycle

The results presented above are for thermal cycling only; the pressure is applied
at the start of the analysis and held constant throughout thermal cycling. If the
pressure is also cycled (from design to ambient) for each thermal cycle the walking
response of the central node is modified as shown in Figure 19.

Axial Displacement (m)

0.9

P&T Cycles

0.8

Middle

0.7

T only Cycles

0.6
0.5
0.4
0.3
0.2
0.1
0
0

Figure 19

20

40

60
80
Inlet Temp (C)

100

120

Axial Displacement of central Node

The figure also contains the results of Figure 17. The response over the first two
or three cycles appears to be very similar; these results are dominated by the
development of the mode 2 buckle shape. Once the mode shape is stabilised the
results are dominated by the walking response. It is clear that the pressure cycle
significantly reduces the level of walking. At the end of the analysis the walking
appears to have stabilised out at about 4 mm per cycle as opposed to the 27 mm
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Carr, M., Bruton, D. and Leslie, D.

per cycle in the temperature only cycling. For a typical 500 cycle design life the
cumulative displacement would total 2m.

This displacement is mainly walking

through the buckle, and the corresponding buckle growth is small.

Clearly

understanding the relationship between pressure and temperature cycling is


extremely important.
Pressure cycling has a beneficial effect on walking. Pressurising the line before
heating has been shown in some cases to mobilise expansion along the full length
of the pipeline, which prevents walking. However, this line is too long to be fully
mobilised by pressure alone. Nevertheless cycling the pressure has a beneficial
effect and is extremely important to design.
5.4

Long pipelines

For a long pipeline with intermediate buckles along its length, the area of greatest
concern is at the hot end, where thermal transient gradients will be at their
steepest. The pipeline will tend to walk away from the hot end and buckle growth
will occur at the first buckle, with lesser growth at subsequent buckles.
However long pipelines tend to have less steep transients and less shutdown
cycles in their design life, so the cumulative cyclic displacement may be low
enough to be acceptable. This has been our experience to date on long pipelines.
However each pipeline should be assessed on a case by case basis.

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Carr, M., Bruton, D. and Leslie, D.

6.

THE EFFECT OF RISER TENSION ON PIPELINE WALKING

A steel catenary riser (SCR) includes a length on-bottom riser that stretches back
from the TDP (touch-down point), usually to a riser termination with an anchor, or
to a longer pipeline (Figure 20).

Effective tension at the TDP is essential to

maintain the shape of the catenary. Recent work has evaluated system behaviour
due to SCR tension acting on the on-bottom pipeline, combined with cyclic startup/shut-down operations.

Floating
production
System

Anchor

SCR
Pipeline

Figure 20
6.1

Typical SCR Configuration


Background

The on bottom tension along the pipeline, as it extends back from the riser TDP is
often based on the static axial friction of the on bottom section with quasi-static
variations from FPS (floating production system) position as shown in Figure 21.
Under this load condition the on bottom section of pipe could be relied upon to
provide sufficient hold back tension and an anchor could be placed at a sufficient
distance from the TDP to prevent riser loading on the hold-back anchor.
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Effective Tension (MN)

1.6TDP
1.4

Far

1.2
Mean

1
0.8

Near

0.6
0.4
0.2
0
0

500

1000

1500

2000

On-bottom Pipeline Length from TDP (m)

Figure 21

Typical On-bottom Tension Definition from the Touch-down


point of a Steel Catenary Riser, for one load case

The line being examined here is a 12-inch 5km pipeline with a SCR at the hot end
and a cold-end that is free to expand. The riser is represented in finite element
analysis by a constant mean riser tension applied to the end of the pipeline, at the
riser TDP.
6.2

Walking Displacement

A range of riser tension was applied from zero to 1MN, at the hot end of the line.
In this case 1MN is the mean design riser tension. Residual axial friction was set
at a coefficient of 0.4. The pipeline pressure and temperature were then cycled
using the same thermal profiles presented in Figure 15.

The results are

summarised in Table 2.

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Riser Tension

Distance per cycle


(negative away from SCR)

zero

- 45mm (towards cold-end)

100kN

59mm (towards riser)

1000kN

665mm (towards riser)

Table 2

Pipeline Walking Distance for Range of Riser Tension

The distance walked is significant for a mean tension of 1MN and would not be
acceptable within a small number of cycles.
In earlier analyses pipe walking behaviour was found to be driven by transient
thermal profiles, and more specifically the gradient of these profiles. However,
riser tension is now shown to dominate walking behaviour and can greatly exceed
the thermal transient driving mechanism.
In addition, if flat temperature profiles are modelled for heating of the line, this has
little effect on the distance walked for the high levels of riser tension in Table 2. At
low levels of tension, transients can compete with or compound walking behaviour,
depending on whether the SCR is at the hot end of the line. This suggests that
riser tension plays a major part in pipeline walking behaviour, although the thermal
profiles still have some influence on the outcome.
As the tension exerted by the riser increases, the distance walked by the pipeline
over each cycle increases correspondingly.

The riser tensions applied to this

model are well within a likely operational range in deep water. The higher value of
1MN is actually a mean value, which will be exceeded under increased vessel
offset or storm conditions.
6.2.1

Control of Walking for SCRs Using Hold-back Anchor

It is clear that a hold back anchor is essential to control pipeline walking towards a
SCR. Analysis was carried out to confirm the maximum anchor capacity required

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to prevent walking and to confirm the maximum tension in the line to assess lateral
stability at route curves.
An example is presented here for a mean static riser tension of 1MN with axial
friction coefficient of 0.6.
To optimise anchor design the pipeline is allowed to expand freely past the
anchor. Only when the pipeline cools and tries to walk back, past the as-installed
end position, is anchor load developed to restrain walking.
Figure 22 shows the force developed in the anchor over the course of the analysis.
500

20

40

60

80

100

120

-500

Force (kN)

-1000
-1500
-2000
-2500
-3000
-3500
-4000
Analysis Step

Figure 22

Anchor Force during analysis

This anchor force reaches a maximum level of 3.45MN, once the walking
behaviour of the line has stabilised. This is over three times the TDP tension.
The anchor controls walking successfully and the final displacement of the riser,
taken at shut down conditions, is 2.30m.

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Figure 23 shows the effective axial force in the line over the course of one cycle,
once the line has stabilised.
Load sequence
Pressure

5000

Heat
Cool
Pressure

Depressure

4000

Cool

Force (kN)

3000
2000
1000

500

1000

1500

2000

2500

-1000
-2000

Figure 23

3000

Depressure
3500
4000
Heat

4500

Distance (m)

Effective axial force after Walking Has Stabilised

The reduction in compressive force at 2650m is due to a lateral buckle deliberately


initiated at this point to control axial compression. This buckle has little effect on
the maximum effective tension experienced along the pipeline route, or at the
hold-back anchor. A summary of the main results is included in Table 3.

Axial Friction
coefficient (equiv.)

Peak effective axial tension


along pipeline route (MN)

Peak tension at anchor (MN)

0.6

4.66

3.45

0.4

3.73

3.26

Table 3

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Effective Tension along Route and at Hold-Back Anchor

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The conclusion from this work is that thermal transient loading on the on-bottom
section of an SCR results in a significantly greater hold-back load than any storm
case loading based on quasi-static axial friction.
6.3

Route Curve Stability

From Figure 23 it can be seen that the effective axial force is relatively high along
the whole pipeline, particularly towards the hold-back pile.

This is the region

traditionally considered acceptable for a route curve; so that the curve is some
distance from regions of riser tension interaction. This may pose a problem, as
this tension acting over route curve is actually high enough to cause the line to
slide laterally. Except for the most shallow curves this would pull-out the curve
and allowing further pipe to walk towards the SCR, until the curvature is small
enough to be stable.

The curvature at which the line will stabilise is highly

dependant on the break-out lateral soil resistance and can be defined as follows,
ignoring the small stiffness component:
Pcrit =

LW
......................................................................................................... 6.1

where L is the lateral friction coefficient, W is the submerged weight of the pipe
and is the curvature.
For the peak effective tension given in Table 3, of 4.66MN the minimum stable
radius of curvature for an equivalent break-out lateral friction coefficient of 0.8
would be 3450m; potentially large enough to compromise field architecture.

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7.

CONCLUSIONS

7.1

Effective Force

The fully constrained effective force must be defined correctly to incorporate the
influence of external pressure, which increases compression in the pipe wall. This
is particularly important in a deep water pipeline, sensitive to buckling or walking.
7.2

Lateral Buckling Methodology

Lateral buckling methodology is well established and has been successfully


compared with actual behaviour for a number of pipelines. With the trend towards
pipelines operating at higher temperatures and pressures, buckling has to be
controlled to ensure that the load is shared between buckles.
7.3

Walking and Buckling Interaction

While pipeline walking is now fairly well understood, it is often not considered in
design.

The control of pipeline walking is still a challenge for steep-gradient

thermal transients. An anchor at the end of the pipeline will prevent walking but
loads can be as high as the axial friction force over the length of the line. This
load is reduced for mid-line anchors but the design and installation of such
anchors can be a challenge.
Recent work looking at the interaction between walking and buckling has
confirmed some interesting behaviour. Because pipe on the hotter side of the
buckle experiences steeper gradient temperature profiles, a greater length of pipe
enters the buckle with each cycle than leaves it. As a result the buckle grows
asymmetrically, changing shape with each cycle.

However, this can be

accompanied by a reduction in strain with each cycle. The main concern from this
interaction is dealing with the global pipeline walking.
Pressure cycling has a beneficial effect on walking. Pressurising the line before
heating has been shown in some cases to mobilise expansion along the full length
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Carr, M., Bruton, D. and Leslie, D.

of the pipeline, which prevents walking. Pressure cycling has a beneficial effect on
reducing walking and is extremely important to design.
7.4

Riser Tension

Tension from a SCR has a significant effect on the walking behaviour of the
pipeline. It appears that riser tension has a much greater effect on walking than
either the thermal gradients, or the presence of a buckle in the line. While an
anchor can be used to control walking, it is clear that tension in the pipeline and at
the anchor can significantly exceed the TDP riser tension. This load case is a
major concern and will dominate design of SCR hold back anchors.

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8.

REFERENCES

Offshore Standard OS-F101.


Norske Veritas. January 2000

In-service Buckling of Heated Pipelines. Hobbs, R.E, ASCE Journal of


Transportation Engineering, Vol. 110 No. 2, March 1984

Thermal Buckling of Pipelines Close to Restraints. Hobbs, R.E. Liang, F.


OMAE 1989

Lateral Buckling of subsea pipelines: Comparison between design and


operation. Kaye, D. Aspect 96

Lateral Buckling Design of the Dunbar-North Alwyn Double Wall Insulated


Pipeline. D. Kaye, D. LeMarchand, P. Blondin and M.Carr. Offshore
Pipeline Technology, 1995

Axial Creeping of High Temperature Flowlines Caused By Soil Ratcheting.


Tornes, K., Jury, J., Ose, B., Thompson. OMAE 2000

Friction To Stick or Slip. Nixon, S. and Carr, M. NAFEMS 2003

OPT 2003

Submarine Pipeline systems 2000.

Det

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Lateral buckling and pipeline walking a challenge for hot pipelines

NOMENCLATURE
English Symbols
A

Area

Youngs modulus

Pipeline length

Pressure

SL

Pipeline residual lay tension

Effective axial force in pipeline

So

Fully restrained effective axial force

S0max Fully constrained force at x=0 (pipeline inlet).


Sw

True axial force in pipeline wall

Pipe submerged weight

Distance along pipe axis

Greek symbols

Coefficient of thermal expansion

Curvature

Axial friction coefficient

Lateral friction coefficient

Temperature difference

Poissons ratio

Subscripts
i

internal cross-section area

external cross-section area

steel cross-section area

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Appendix