Subsea pipelines are subjected to wave and steady current loads which cause pipeline stability problems. Current knowledge and understanding on the pipeline on-bottom stability is based on the research programmes from the 1980s such as the Pipeline Stability Design Project (PIPESTAB) and American Gas Association (AGA) in Joint Industry Project. These projects have mainly provided information regarding hydrodynamic loads on pipeline and soil resistance in isolation. In reality, the pipeline stability problem is much more complex involving hydrodynamic loadings, pipeline response, soil resistance, embedment and pipe-soil-fluid interaction. In this thesis Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) modelling is used to investigate and establish the interrelationship between fluid (hydrodynamics), pipe (subsea pipeline), and soil (seabed). The effect of soil types, soil resistance, soil porosity and soil unit weight on embedment was examined. The overall pipeline stability alongside pipeline diameter and weight and hydrodynamic effect on both soil (resulting in scouring) and pipeline was also investigated. The use of CFD provided a better understanding of the complex physical processes of fluid-pipe-soil interaction. The results show that the magnitude of passive resistance is on the average eight times that of lateral resistance. Thus passive resistance is of greater significance for subsea pipeline stability design hence the reason why Coulombs friction theory is considered as conservative for stability design analysis, as it ignores passive resistance and underestimates lateral resistance. Previous works (such as that carried out by Lyons and DNV) concluded that soil resistance should be determined by considering Coulombs friction based on lateral resistance and passive resistance due to pipeline embedment, but the significance of passive resistance in pipeline stability and its variation in sand and clay soils have not be established as shown in this thesis. The results for soil porosity show that increase in pipeline stability with increasing porosity is due to increased soil liquefaction which increases soil resistance. The pipe-soil interaction model by Wagner et al. established the effect of soil porosity on lateral soil resistance but did not attribute it to soil liquefaction. Results showed that the effect of pipeline diameter and weight vary with soil type; for sand, pipeline diameter showed a greater influence on embedment with a 110% increase in embedment (considering combined effect of diameter and weight) and a 65% decrease in embedment when normalised with diameter. While pipeline weight showed a greater influence on embedment in clay with a 410% increase. The work of Gao et al. did not completely establish the combined effect of pipeline diameter and weight and soil type on stability. Results also show that pipeline instability is due to a combination of pipeline displacement due to vortex shedding and scouring effect with increasing velocity. As scoring progresses, maximum embedment is reached at the point of highest velocity. The conclusion of this thesis is that designing for optimum subsea pipeline stability without adopting an overly conservative approach requires taking into consideration the following; combined effect of hydrodynamics of fluid flow on soil type and properties, and the pipeline, and the resultant scour effect leading to pipeline embedment. These results were validated against previous experimental and analytical work of Gao et al, Brennodden et al and Griffiths.
IYALLA, I. 2017. Computational fluid dynamics modelling of pipeline on-bottom stability. Robert Gordon University, PhD thesis.