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AUG 9, 2017

PET 58

Discuss: Pipeline Installation

A submarine pipeline (also known as marine, subsea or offshore pipeline) is a pipeline that is laid on
the seabed or below it inside a trench. In some cases, the pipeline is mostly on-land but in places it crosses water
expanses, such as small seas, straights and rivers. Submarine pipelines are used primarily to carry oil or gas, but
transportation of water is also important. A distinction is sometimes made between a flowline and a pipeline. The
former is an intrafield pipeline, in the sense that it is used to connect subsea wellheads, manifolds and
the platform within a particular development field. The latter, sometimes referred to as an export pipeline, is used to
bring the resource to shore. Sizeable pipeline construction projects need to take into account a large number of
factors, such as the offshore ecology, geohazards and environmental loading they are often undertaken by
multidisciplinary, international teams.

Route selection
One of the earliest and most critical tasks in a submarine pipeline planning exercise is the route selection. ] This
selection has to consider a variety of issues, some of a political nature, but most others dealing with geohazards,
physical factors along the prospective route, and other uses of the seabed in the area considered. This task begins
with a fact-finding exercise, which is a standard desk study that includes a survey of geological maps, bathymetry,
fishing charts, aerial and satellite photography, as well as information from navigation authorities.

Physical factors
The primary physical factor to be considered in submarine pipeline construction is the state of the seabed whether
it is smooth (i.e., relatively flat) or uneven (corrugated, with high points and low points). If it is uneven, the pipeline
will include free spans when it connects two high points, leaving the section in between unsupported. [If an
unsupported section is too long, the bending stress exerted onto it (due to its weight) may be excessive.
Physical factors to be taken into account prior to building a pipeline include the following:
Seabed mobility, Submarine landslides, Currents, Waves, Ice-related issues.


The pull/tow system

In the pull/tow system, the submarine pipeline is assembled onshore and then
towed to location. Assembly is done either parallel or perpendicular to the
shoreline in the former case, the full line can be built prior to tow out and
installation. A significant advantage with the pull/tow system is that pre-testing
and inspection of the line are done onshore, not at sea.It allows to handle lines
of any size and complexity. As for the towing procedures, a number of
configurations can be used, which may be categorized as follows: surface tow,
near-surface tow, mid-depth tow and off-bottom tow

Surface tow: In this configuration, the pipeline remains at the surface of

the water during tow, and is then sunk into position at lay site. The line has
to be buoyant this can be done with individual buoyancy units attached
to it. Surface tows are not appropriate for rough seas and are vulnerable to
lateral currents.

Near-surface tow: The pipeline remains below the water surface but close to it this mitigates wave action.
But the spar buoys used to maintain the line at that level are affected by rough seas, which in itself may
represent a challenge for the towing operation.

Mid-depth tow: The pipeline is not buoyant either because it is heavy or it is weighted down by hanging
chains. In this configuration, the line is suspended in a catenary between two towing vessels. The shape of that
catenary (the sag) is a balance between the line's weight, the tension applied to it by the vessels and
hydrodynamic lift on the chains. The amount of allowable sag is limited by how far down the seabed is.

Off-bottom tow: This configuration is similar to the mid-depth tow, but here the line is maintained within 1 to
2 m (several feet) away from the bottom, using chains dragging on the seabed.

Bottom tow: In this case, the pipeline is dragged onto the bottom the line is not affected by waves and
currents, and if the sea gets too rough for the tow vessel, the line can simply be abandoned and recovered later.
Challenges with this type of system include: requirement for an abrasion-resistant coating, interaction with other
submarine pipelines and potential obstructions (reef, boulders, etc.). Bottom tow is commonly used for river
crossings and crossings between shores.

The S-lay system

In the S-lay system, the pipeline assembly is done at the installation site, on board a vessel that has all the
equipment required for joining the pipe segments: pipe handling conveyors, welding stations, X-ray equipment, jointcoating module, etc. The S notation refers to the shape of the pipeline as it is laid onto the seabed. The pipeline
leaves the vessel at the stern or bow from a supporting structure
pipe's downward motion and controls the convex-upward curve

called a stinger that guides the

(the overbend). As

it continues toward the seabed, the pipe has a convex-downward


(the sagbend) before coming into contact with the seabed (touch


point). The sagbend is controlled by a tension applied from the vessel

(via tensioners) in response to the pipeline's submerged weight. The
pipeline configuration is monitored so that it will not get damaged by


bending. This on-site pipeline assembly approach, referred to as laybarge construction, is known for its versatility and self-contained


despite the high costs associated with this vessel's deployment, it is

efficient and requires relatively little external support. But it may have


contend with severe sea states these adversely affect operations


as pipe transfer from supply boats, anchor-handling and pipe

welding. Recent developments in lay-barge design include dynamic
positioning and the J-lay system

The J-lay system

In areas where the water is very deep, the S-lay system may not be appropriate because the pipeline leaves the
stinger to go almost straight down. To avoid sharp bending at the end of it and to mitigate excessive sag bending,
the tension in the pipeline would have to be high. [27] Doing so would interfere with the vessel's positioning, and the
tensioner could damage the pipeline. A particularly long stinger could be used, but this is also objectionable since
that structure would be adversely affected by winds and currents. The J-lay system, one of the latest generations of
lay-barge, is better suited for deep water environments. In this system, the pipeline leaves the vessel on a nearly
vertical ramp (or tower). There is no overbend only a sagbend of catenary nature (hence the Jnotation), such that
the tension can be reduced. The pipeline is also less exposed to wave action as it enters the water. However, unlike
for the S-lay system, where pipe welding can be done simultaneously at several locations along the vessel deck's
length, the J-lay system can only accommodate one welding station. Advanced methods of automatic welding are
used to compensate for this drawback

The Reel-lay system

In the reel-lay system, the pipeline is assembled onshore and is spooled onto a large drum typically about 20 metres
(66 ft) x 6 metres (20 ft) in size,[mounted on board a purpose-built vessel. The vessel then goes out to location to lay
the pipeline. Onshore facilities to assemble the pipeline have inherent advantages: they are not affected by the
weather or the sea state and are less expensive than seaborne operations.Pipeline supply can be coordinated:
while one line is being laid at sea, another one can be spooled onshore. [A single reel can have enough capacity for

a full length flow line. The reel-lay system, however, can only handle lower diameter pipelines up to about 400 mm
(16 in).Also, the kind of steel making up the pipes must be able to undergo the required amount of plastic
deformation as it is bent to proper curvature (by a spiral J-tube) when reeled around the drum, and straightened
back (by a straightener) during the layout operations at the installation site

Several methods are used to stabilise and protect submarine pipelines and their components. These may be used
alone or in combinations.[
A submarine pipeline may be laid inside a trench as a means of safeguarding it against fishing gear (e.g. anchors)
and trawling activity.This may also be required in shore approaches to protect the pipeline
against currents and wave action (as it crosses thesurf zone). Trenching can be done prior to pipeline lay (pretrenching), or afterward by seabed removal from below the pipeline (post-trenching). In the latter case, the trenching
device rides on top of, or straddles, the pipeline.Several systems are used to dig trenches in the seabed for
submarine pipelines:

Jetting: This is a post-trenching procedure whereby the soil is removed from beneath the pipeline by using
powerful pumps to blow water on each side of it.

Mechanical cutting: This system uses chains or cutter disks to dig through and remove harder soils,
including boulders,] from below the pipeline.

Plowing: The plowing principle, which was initially used for pre-trenching, has evolved into sophisticated
systems that are lighter in size for faster and safer operation.

Dredging/excavation: In shallower water, the soil can be removed with a dredger or an excavator prior to
laying the pipeline. This can be done in a number of ways, notably with a cutter-suction system, with the use
of buckets or a with a backhoe

A buried pipe is far better protected than a pipe in an open trench.This is commonly done either by covering the
structure with rocks quarried from a nearby shoreline. Alternatively, the soil excavated from the seabed during
trenching can be used as backfill. A significant drawback to burial is the difficulty in locating a leak should it arise,
and for the ensuing repairing operations.

Mattresses may be laid over the pipeline, or both under and over it depending on the substrate.

Frond mattresses have an effect similar to seaweed and tend to cause sand to accumulate. They must be
anchored to the bottom to prevent being washed away.

Concrete mattresses are used to help hold part of the pipeline in place by their weight and reduce scour.
They are usually heavy enough to be held in place by their own weight, as they are made from concrete blocks
linked together by rope.

Combination mattresses of concrete mattress with overlaid frond mattress are also used.

Ground anchors- Clamps holding the pipeline to piles may be used to prevent lateral movement.
Saddle blocks - Precast concrete saddle blocks may be used to provide lateral support and hold the pipeline
down more firmly.

Sandbags and groutbags - These may be

packed at

the sides or under a pipeline to provide

vertical and/or lateral support

Gravel dumps - Gravel may be

dumped over parts of a pipeline to
reduce scour and help stabilise against
lateral movement

Simplified drawing showing a typical jetting system for trenching

below a submarine pipeline that is lying on the seafloor