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Proceedings of the ASME 2015 34th International Conference on Ocean, Offshore and Arctic Engineering

May 31-June 5, 2015, St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada


Mathematical Model of PLEM Installation in Deepwater

Ting Liu Weidong Ruan Yong Bai

Zhejiang University Zhejiang University Zhejiang University
Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China

Hongdong Qiao Feng Su Jianbo Fu

Zhejiang University Offshore Oil Engineering Co., Ltd Offshore Oil Engineering Co., Ltd
Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China Tianjin, China Tianjin, China

The application of pipeline end manifold (PLEM) in As oil/gas field developments move further away from
subsea field has been increased dramatically because of its existing subsea structures, it becomes more advantageous to
economical and convenient factors as a subsea facility, however, consider subsea tie-ins of their export systems with existing
implementing it into the deep waters is still quite challenging. deepwater pipeline system that offer spare transport capacity.
Reference software tools relating to this project should be This necessitates incorporating pipeline end manifolds (PLEM)
developed to provide some theoretical technique support for the at both pipeline ends to tie in the system [1]. Also, the PLEM is
engineers. Throughout this paper, the installation of PLEM, a kind of cluster manifold, which can also play an important
which is welded to the lower flexible pipe and tractived by the role in some aspects such as gathering oil and gas, appointing
wire rounding through the suction pile, is studied in the 3D chemical agents, gas and water.
space. The mathematical model and its dedicated algorithm of This new and fascinating application of the PLEM as a
the installation system is established, and the iterative subsea facility in the oil and gas field has captured the
procedures to calculate the mechanical behavior of the pipeline researchers attention. Extensive researches have been
and the tractive wire in the installation project are illustrated. conducted relating to PLEM, most of which are mainly focused
The initial configuration of the system can be obtained based on on the design challenges that might be encountered in some
the catenary theory, and its final form, when subjected to tough conditions [2-7]. Although the equipment design and the
environmental loads, can be acquired through the overall offshore operations are some key points in the installation
iterations by satisfying the compatibility and equilibrium campaign, the mechanical behavior of the installation system,
requirements. Results derived from the proposed method are such as the axial tension and displacement of the pipe and wire,
confirmed to be accurate and reliable when compared with the are also of great importance to its success. To the best
ones achieved from the OrcaFlex simulation. knowledge of the author, the studies on the mechanical behavior
of the PLEM installation system are still rare. Xavier M et al[8]

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presented some relevant aspects of the successful installation of
the PLEM, including its design, modifications to the pipelay
vessel and offshore operations in the installation campaign.
John Sokol[9] addressed the installation challenges of the
related project and presented the methods and equipment that
were employed to successfully complete the installation. Wang
Hui et al[10-11] reported the tension control and the length
control installation method of the PLEM. The FEM software
was also used for the simulations of the whole installation
process and at the special location of PLEM. However, those
literatures presented above are mainly focused on software Figure 1. PLEM installation process.
simulation and the representation of the installation process,
there are hardly any theoretical analysis of the installation For the sake of convenience in the analysis, the PLEM can
model, which can be of great importance for the engineers to be simplified into a rigid cuboid, which only allows the
evaluate the safety of the installation process. translation movements. The line between the two connecting
Therefore, mathematical models related to the installation points, which are positioned at the center of the upper and lower
of the PLEM should be proposed, and reference software tools surface of PLEM, is supposed to go through the center of
gravity. The following assumptions can be made: the bending
should be developed. This is essential in assisting the engineers
stiffness of the flexible pipeline can be negligible, as it will not
to efficiently make crucial decisions about the success and have significant impact on the kinematics when the pipeline is
security of the installation process. During the installation, the long enough suspended in the subsea. The suction pile is
bend radius of the pipeline and the axial tension of the whole regarded as a fixed pulley in the model, and the friction acting
installation system should be controlled in an appropriate scope on the relative part can be neglected.
to prevent the strength damage. The displacement of the PLEM
in the subsea during installation should also be under the 2.1. Initial configuration
control of the engineers. In this paper, the mathematic model of The mathematical model of the PLEM installation can be
the PLEM installation is established and an iterative method is seen in Figure 2, and an iterative method is used to study the
introduced herein to calculate those quantities, which are quite mechanical behavior of the PLEM installation system in 3D
useful for the guidance of the operation. Numerical simulations space. In order to reduce the iterations needed to determine the
using OrcaFlex are also conducted to verify the accuracy and final shapes under environmental loads, a reasonable trial form
reliability of this proposed method. should be chosen. For simplicity, a two-dimensional shape only
subjected to dead gravity load along the entire length in Plane
2. Mathematical Model XZ is selected as the initial configuration.. Before acquiring this
The installation process of the PLEM in practical initial form, some unknown geometric and mechanical
engineering can be seen in Figure 1. The PLEM is welded to the parameters should first be solved, which include the force
lower flexible pipeline, and the other end is connected to the components of each point, and the wire lengths divided by the
tractive cable which rounds through the suction pile that has pulley. Catenary theory can be applied to solve this problem.
been anchored on the seabed. There are a lot of uncertainties
before the PLEM arrives at the seabed, which may result in sea surface
catastrophic fail. Thus, this phase of the installation process
should be paid special attention to, and the mechanical behavior Ti+1 i+1
of the pipeline and the tractive wire should be carefully j Fxi i

observed. Fyi
y Gi
flexible pipe

Figure 2. Mathematical model of the PLEM installation

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system in 3D space. 2 2
T2 T2
S AO ch ch 1 AX CZ
wpip TAX TAX
T2 T2
T BX ch 1 AX ch 1 AX OAZ
T AX wwir TAX TAX (9)
flexible pipe wire


2 2 2

SOB ch ch 1 BX (10)



T CZ PLEM There are 10 unknowns in the 10 equations, which can

C simultaneously be solved. The initial configuration of the
T OAZ T OBZ installation system can then be obtained. When the wire and the
O flexible pipe are submerged in water, buoyant force should be
subtracted from the dry weight.
Figure 3. Initial form of PLEM installation system.
2.2. Form and internal force of the system
In practical engineering, these quantities can be regarded The assumed initial configuration of the installation system
as known quantities: the length of the flexible pipe LAC and the cannot satisfy the equilibrium and the compatibility
total length of the tractive wire Lwir, the horizontal and vertical requirements under environmental loads. Thus, to meet those
distances from Point A and Point B to Point O, which are demands, an iterative procedure should be used to update the
illustrated as SAO, HAO, SOB, and HOB, respectively. Suppose that, installation form, internal forces and the starting point reactions
the vertical component forces of the Point O in the two sides of when subjected to environmental loads.
the pulley are TOAZ and TOBZ. The other component forces of the A three-dimensional coordinate system can be set up by
corresponding points are illustrated in Figure 3. According to locating the origin at the position of Point O, at where the
the equilibrium of the force, equations 1-5 can be obtained: tractive wire can be divided into two segments in the analysis
TAZ LAC wpip TCZ (1) (the lengths of which have already been calculated out in
TCZ Fplem TDZ (2) Section 2.1). Point O is selected to be the starting point of the
iterative procedure assuming the mechanical behavior of Part
TDZ LDO wwir TOAZ (3)
OB and Part OA can be obtained from the iterative procedure
TBZ LOB wwir TOBZ (4) within the overall iterations.
T 2
BX T 2
(5) The tractive wire and the flexible jumper can be divided
Where, wpip and wwir are the distributed weight of the into short straight elements, and the PLEM is regarded as a
flexible pipe and the tractive wire, LDO and LOB are the singular element. The origins of the local frames of reference of
supposed lengths in the two sides of the pulley, which are to be its two parts are set at j and i, which are the node numbers
solved. Fplem is the weight of the PLEM. According to the counting from the starting point O to its two separate sides,
properties of the catenary , the horizontal forces in its two sides respectively. The divisions of the wire and flexible pipe can be
remain unchanged and the axial tensions of the wire at the two decided according to the required precision and the time
sides of Point O should be equal. The installation system should consumption of the analysis. The distributed loads acting on
also satisfy the compatibility requirement, some of which can be each element can be replaced by the equivalent concentrated
derived through the catenary theory. The height of PLEM is load Fxi, and Fyi, which are applied to the center of the element.
defined as hplem. Those related equations are presented below: Mathematical model of the PLEM installation is illustrated in
Lwir LDO LOB (6) Figure 2. The way Ahmadizadeh[12] addresses the space
structuralslack cable, has motivate the author a lot to deal
H AO T 2

TCZ2 / wpip hplem with the problem of PLEM installation, and the iterative

T 2
/ wwir (7)
procedures are presented in the following ways:
(1). Calculate the load components (Fxi, Fyi ,Fzi) acting on
H OB T 2
/ wwir (8) each differential element. The sign is defined as that, when the

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direction of the load is along the positive direction of the axis, converge, and the calculation will repeat and always flutter
its value is positive, otherwise, it is negative. nearby certain components of the starting point.
(2). Taking the left part OA as an example, start from Node (4). The above procedures are repeated until the relative
1(Point O), shown in Figure 2. The component forces of the error in the prediction of Point A is less than a certain specified
starting point O (TOAX, TOAY , TOAZ) are calculated from the value :
initial assumption of the installation system. Its better to choose (15)
X 2 Y 2 Z 2
the components much closer to its real ones when subjected to
Then, the sub-iteration of the left part is finished. The
environmental loads to reduce the iterations. Thus, components
resultant force of Point O in the left part can be obtained from
TOAX, and TOAY can be adjusted according to the moment
the below formula, which are the results of the latest calculated
balance of Point A. The subsequent nodal components can be
starting point components:
obtained from the equilibrium of the internal force:
(TAX , TAY , TAZ ) j 1 (TAX , TAY , TAZ ) j Fx , Fy , Fz (11) T T 2 T 2 T 2
(5). The resultant force of Point O in the right part, TOB can
The subscript A represents that the calculated nodal
be acquired from the same iterative procedures presented
components are at the left part OA, and j is the node number,
counting from Point O. Most of the time, Fzj is the element
(6). Compare the resultant forces TOA with TOB. They
weight, and buoyant force should be taken off when it is
should equal, but here, the length LDO and LOB used in the above
submerged in the water.. The bending stiffness of the flexible
procedure are from the conditions when only it was subjected to
pipe can be neglected, so Element j will surely lies along the
gravitational loads. As a result, the compared values are
direction of the resultant force of Node j+1, TA,j+1. Thus, the
dispersed in the first iteration. Therefore, the lengths of those
updated points of the subsequent nodes can be derived from:
two segments should be adjusted according to the different
X A , YA , Z A j 1 X A , YA , Z A j value of the corresponding resultant forces:
l j (TAX , TAY , TAZ ) j 1 / (TAX
TAZ2 ) j 1 LDO, p 1 LDO, p (TOA, p TOB, p ) / Lwir
LDB, p 1 LDB, p (TOA, p TOB, p ) / Lwir (17)
Where, lj is the element length, its value should be taken
accordingly from the corresponding divisions of each part. Subscript p is the overall iteration number. is also the
When it comes to the singular element PLEM, the new nodal proportional gain controlling the modification of the two
position of its second end can be obtained just by simply adding segments lengths. The selection of this value may have a big
the height of the PLEM. difference on the convergence and the time consumption. After
(3). After all the subsequent node positions are updated, the adjustment, LDO,p+1 and LOB,p+1 are treated as the known
the new location of the last point n (XA, YA, ZA)n may not quantities, on the basis of the catenary theory illustrated in
necessarily be the same as its actual one (XA, YA, ZA), the Section 2.1, the initial configuration can be once again
deviation of the end pipeline from its actual point A can be achieved. Starting from step (1), the next iteration begins. The
evaluated as: iterations are stopped until the difference between those two
(X , Y , Z ) ( X A , YA , Z A )n ( X A , YA , Z A ) (13) resultant forces of Point O at the two sides of the pulley is small
The assumed starting point components should be enough:
modified based on the following rules: TOA TOB 1 (18)
TOAX , TOAY , TOAZ k 1 TOAX , TOAY , TOAZ k is the predetermined convergence tolerance of the whole
X Y Z (14) iteration. The overall analysis is conducted on basis of the
( TOAX , k , TOAY , k , TOAZ , k ) accomplishment of the local analysis, thus, should not be
smaller than .
The subscript k represents the iteration number of the left
(7). After the accomplishment of the overall iteration, the
part OA, and is the positive constant, it is the proportional
displacement and the axial tension of the installation system can
gain that control the magnitude of the adjustment made on the be obtained, and the bend radius of the flexible pipeline can be
starting point reactions. Usually, the value of can be chosen also derived from the following formula:
in accordance with the accuracy required. It should be noted i a i / 2sin arccos (bi 2 ci 2 ai 2 ) 2bi ci (19)
that if is selected to be too large, the iteration may not

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Where Point A and B to O are 400m and 300m, respectively. The other
ai ( X i 1 X i 1 ) (Yi 1 Yi 1 ) (Zi 1 Zi 1 )
2 2 2
, parameters of the flexible pipe, tractive wire, and the PLEM can
be seen in Table 3-4.
bi ( X i X i 1 )2 (Yi Yi 1 )2 (Zi Zi 1 )2 ,
Table 1. Parameters of sea water and wave.
ci ( X i 1 X i )2 (Yi 1 Yi )2 (Zi 1 Zi )2 . Parameter Value
Density of sea water, (kg/m3) 1025
Water depth, DW (m) 1200
3. Analysis example
Wave height, Hs (m) 1
The world leading commercial software OcraFlex[13] is Wave period, Ts (s) 8
utilized to simulate the installation project in order to verify the
accuracy and reliability of this proposed method. Table 2. Data for current profile.
Water depth(m) Current velocity(m/s) Direction()
3.1. Environmental load calculation 0 1 0
When calculating the environmental loads, the current can 300 0.43 16
be assumed to be a steady flow, that is to say, the inertia force 500 0.28 34
caused by the current can be neglected. The horizontal force 850 0.35 71
acting on each element in the x-axis and y-axis directions can be 1050 0.47 146
derived based on the Morison formula and geometric 1200 0.48 180
li du Table 3. Parameters of flexible pipe and wire.
Fxi (0.5 CD D(v v cos u u ) CM D 2 )dl (20)
0 4 dt Parameter Flexible pipe Wire
li Total length(m) 1000 1600
Fyi 0.5 CD Dv v sin dl (21) Distributed dry weight(N/m) 803.7 350

Where, is the density of water, CD is the drag coefficient, Outer diameter(m) 0.245 0.15
CM is the inertia coefficient, D is the outer diameter of the
Table 4. Parameters of PLEM
element, and is the current direction. u and du/dt are the Parameter PLEM
water particle velocity and acceleration caused by waves, which Weight (KN) 240
can be evaluated in accordance with Airys theory: Height (m) 1.5
Length (m) 4
H s cosh(2 Z / ) 2 t (22)
u cos (X ) Width (m) 2
Ts sinh(2 DW / ) Ts Drag coefficient 1.32
du 2 2 H s cosh(2 Z / ) 2 t (23) Inertia coefficient 2
sin (X )
dt Ts 2 sinh(2 DW / ) Ts
3.2. Comparison and discussion
gT 2 2 DW (24)
s tanh( ) Comparisons are carried out between the results obtained
2 from the proposed method and OrcaFlex simulation. The axial
Where, Hs is the wave height, Ts is the wave period, is tension along the length of the flexible pipe and the tractive
the wave length, DW is the water depth, and t is the time. When wire from the two solutions are illustrated in Figures 4 and 5,
Z> DW, that is to say, above the sea surface, the horizontal respectively. From those two graphs, it can be observed that the
forces applied to those elements can be regarded as zero. two sets of results are in good agreement with each other from
Those environmental parameters are listed in Table 1-2. the sense of wholeness. However, the axial tension along the
The wave direction is assumed to be in parallel with the positive tractive wire from the OrcaFlex simulation is not so pliable at
direction of X-axis. The current direction is set as 0when it the lowest Point O. That is because the way the finite-element
is along the wave direction, and 180 when in the reverse model established contributes a lot to this phenomenon. It is
direction. Interpolation method can be applied to derive the quite discommodious to simulate the pulley in OrcaFlex
current velocity v and its direction in different water depths. software, so the hinge joint is utilized to replace it. The two
Point A, B, and O are in the same vertical plane, the distance segment lengths of the tractive wire on both sides of Point O
from Point A to the sea surface is 15m, which is 13m higher have already been calculated out from the proposed method
than Point Bs. The horizontal distances along the X-axis of written in Matlab. From the curves, it can be seen that the top of

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the flexible pipe(Point A) and the tractive wire(Point B) are the
two most dangerous points during the installation, and should OrcaFlex simulation
be paid special attention to during the installation. 1200 Proposed method

550 1000

500 800
OrcaFlex simulation

Z Axis(m)
Proposed method
450 600
Axial tension(KN)

400 400

0 16
300 12
-450 8

-150 4

250 0
XA 0

x is(m 150
) 300


0 200 400 600 800 1000

Figure 6. Comparison of the displacement in 3D space.
Length of the pipeline from Piont A to C(m)
Figure 4. Comparison of axial tension along pipeline.

250 100.0k OrcaFlex simulation

Bend radius(m)
Proposed method
OrcaFlex simulation 80.0k
200 Proposed method
Axial tension(KN)


150 40.0k


100 0.0

0 200 400 600 800 1000

50 Length of the pipeline from Piont A to C(m)

0 200 400 600 800 1000 1200 1400 1600 Figure 7. Comparison of the bend radius of the pipeline.
Length of the tractive wire from Point D to B(m)

Figure 5. Comparison of axial tension along tractive wire.

4. Conclusion
In this paper, the mathematical model of PLEM installation
Figure 6 shows the comparison of the installation system is established, and an iterative method is proposed to deal with
configuration, and Figure 7 illustrates the variation of the bend its 3D analysis. Equations 14 and 17 can govern the
radius along the flexible pipe. The results achieved from the convergence and the calculation speed of the iterations, so, the
proposed method are in consistent with the ones obtained from selection of those two proportional gains should be taken great
the OrcaFlex simulation, and the differences between those two care of. The dedicated algorithm is programmed in Matlab,
solutions are within the limited error. It can also be found out which can be used as the reference tools for engineers.
that the minimum bend radius of the flexible pipe occurs at the Since it is quite difficult to simulate the pulley in OrcaFlex,
points which are quite near to the soldering point of the PLEM in order to verify the accuracy and reliability of this proposed
and the top end of the pipe. Thus, more attention should be paid method, a hinge joint is used to replace it in OcaFlex model.
to those points during the installation project. That is to say, the lengths of the tractive wire at the two sides of
The above comparisons of the results between the two Point O should be the known quantities in the FEM model, so
solutions indicate that the mathematical model and the iterative the lengths can be taken as the ones calculated from the
method proposed in this paper are correct and effective. proposed method. The difference between the axial tensions of
the tractive wire at the two sides of Point O is about 4% from
the OrcaFlex model, which is within the acceptable tolerance

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scope. The results from the two methods are consistent, which Conference on Ocean, Offshore and Arctic Engineering, June
shows that this proposed method can give a good estimation of 9-14, 2013, Nantes, France, OMAE2013-11432.
the mechanical behavior of the installation system and it can [6] Per Damsleth, Basel Abdalla, and KC Tang, Large
provide some theoretical reference for the engineers in practical diameter, deep water PLEM concepts, In Proceedings of
the ASME 2012, 31st International Conference on Ocean,
Offshore and Arctic Engineering (OMAE2012), July 1-6,
2012, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, OMAE2012-83403.
[7] Robinson R., and Grass J., Design Challenges of a 48 inch
Pipeline Subsea Manifold, Offshore Technology Conference
The authors have been supported by the National Major Project
OTC15275, Houston, May 2003
of China (Grant No.2011ZX05027-004).
[8] Jasmin ISJ, and Mohamed ABM, Deepwater pipeline
end manifold design challenges, In Proceedings of OPE
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