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OTC 17945

Pipeline WalkingUnderstanding the Field Layout Challenges, and Analytical


Solutions Developed for the SAFEBUCK JIP
M. Carr, F. Sinclair, and D. Bruton, Boreas Consultants

Copyright 2006, Offshore Technology Conference


This paper was prepared for presentation at the 2006 Offshore Technology Conference held in
Houston, Texas, U.S.A., 14 May 2006.
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Abstract
This paper addresses the phenomenon of pipeline walking,
which can cause cumulative axial displacement of a whole
pipeline, leading to potential failures at tie-ins or risers. This
phenomenon can massively complicate the design of deep
water flowlines and has significantly impacted field layouts on
a number of recent projects.
Pipeline walking occurs over a number of start-up and
shutdown cycles, under the following conditions:
Tension at the end of the flowline, associated with a steel
catenary riser;
Global seabed slope along the pipeline length;
Thermal transients along the pipeline during start-up and
shutdown.
The SAFEBUCK JIP has developed new analytical
equations, from first principles, that predict the rate of walking
for all three load conditions. These equations have been
successfully validated against FE (finite element) models, and
bring welcome simplicity to conceptual design assessments.
Introduction
The SAFEBUCK JIP was undertaken with the intention of
developing a guideline for the design of high temperature
pipelines prone to lateral buckling. Part of the JIP included an
investigation into the little understood pipeline walking
phenomenon, which has occurred in a number of pipelines and
lead to at least one failure to date.
The aim of this task within the JIP was to define the key
factors that influence pipeline walking and provide guidance
for assessing the severity of the walking problem.
This paper summarizes the work done on pipeline walking
and presents simple analytic expressions which can be used to
assess pipeline walking at a conceptual design stage.

Pipeline Walking Mechanisms


When a pipeline is laid on the seabed and heated, it will tend
to expand. The expansion is resisted by the friction generated
by the seabed. When the pipeline is cooled, it contracts but
the effects of seabed friction mean that the pipeline ends
cannot contract to the original position. On subsequent heatup and shutdown cycles, the pipeline ends cycle between the
fully heated position and the cool-down position; this behavior
is addressed in the traditional approach to pipeline expansion
design.
However, in some cases thermal cycling can be
accompanied by global axial movement of the pipeline; this
global translation of the whole pipeline is termed pipeline
walking. Over a number of start-up and shutdown cycles
walking can lead to significant global displacement of the
pipeline. Walking itself is not a limit state, but without careful
consideration can lead to:
Overstressing of spoolpieces/jumpers;
Loss of tension in a SCR (steel catenary riser);
Increased loading within a lateral buckle;
Need for restraint using anchors;
Route curve pullout of restrained systems.
Walking is a phenomenon that can occur in short, high
temperature pipelines. The term short relates to pipelines
that do not reach full constraint in the middle, but instead
expand about a virtual anchor point located at the middle of
the pipeline. Walking involves a global axial movement
which occurs on cyclic load and does not reduce with the
number of cycles.
There are related axial ratcheting
phenomena which can occur in more heavily constrained
pipelines, but these tend to reduce to a final equilibrium
position over a (relatively) small number of cycles[1].
With the current increase in pipeline operating
temperatures, short pipelines can be many kilometers in
length. The phenomenon can also occur in longer lines where
lateral buckling has occurred.
Pipeline walking in short pipelines occurs under the
following conditions:
Tension at the end of the flowline, associated with a SCR;
Global seabed slope along the pipeline length;
Thermal gradients along the pipeline during changes in
operating conditions.
The three walking mechanisms are treated in turn,
highlighting the parameters that influence walking for each.

OTC 17945

S = S w + pe A e p i A i

(1)

Here tensile forces are positive and all variables are


defined in the notation section at the end of this paper. In the
remainder of the paper all references to axial force imply the
effective axial force; the true wall force can always be
recovered using equation (1).
The force at which the axial strain in the pipeline is zero is
known as the fully constrained effective force, for a pipeline
installed with zero internal pressure this is given by:-

P = S L (p i A i ) (1 2 ) E A s ( inst )

(2)

Although this is the conventional definition of fully


constrained force, the term really applies to sections where the
change in strain is zero, i.e. equation (2) defines the force
associated with zero strain change from the as-installed
condition. The distinction is important here, since we are
considering cyclic loading of the pipeline. The change in fully
constrained force associated with an unload event is therefore
given by

Figure 1 shows the force profiles in the fully heated


position and the cool-down position. The slope of the force
profiles is defined by the axial friction force, f=W. The
change in fully-constrained force, as defined by equation (3),
is also showni. For a pipeline to be fully-mobilized on load
and unload the change in fully constrained force (P) must
exceed the height of the force envelope defined by axial
friction (fL). The condition under which cyclic constraint
occurs can be expressed in terms of a constraint friction, f*:

f* =

Effective Axial Force

(4)

P = (p 2 p 1 ) A i (1 2 ) E A s ( 2 1 ) (3)
Where the subscripts 1 and 2 refer to conditions before and
after the operating change.
An important consideration in pipeline walking assessment
is the level of axial constraint during start-up and shutdown
cycling. This can range from a condition of full cyclic
constraint where no axial displacement occurs over a portion
of the pipeline, to fully mobilized where axial displacement
occurs along the full length of the pipeline; there is also an
intermediate condition of cyclic constraint. Each of these
conditions is described in the following figures.
A typical force profile envelope for a fully mobilized
short pipeline is illustrated in Figure 1.

If the friction force is less than f* then the pipeline is fully


mobilized (i.e. for f/f*<1). This definition of a short pipeline
is fundamental, as such lines are the most susceptible to pipe
walking.
The force profiles change significantly when a pipeline is
long enough for a section of the line to become fully
constrained, as illustrated in Figure 2.

Effective Axial Force

Effective Axial Force Profiles


The general expansion behavior of a pipeline can be
understood by considering the effective axial force profile
along the pipe. The effective axial force in the pipeline is
made up of the (true) axial force in the pipe wall and the
pressure induced axial force. This is defined as:-

0.2

0.4

0.6

0.8

1
P

f
P
Cooldown
Fully Constrained Force
Heatup

Length (x/L)

Figure 2 Force Profile Envelope for Pipeline Reaching Full


Constraint (f/f*>2)

Figure 2 shows how the fully-constrained force is


insufficient to mobilize axial friction along the full length of
the pipeline; for a pipeline to reach full-constraint on first load
f/f*>2. A fully constrained section will prevent walking unless
the gradient of the thermal transient is extremely high.
There is an intermediate case in which the fully
constrained force is sufficient to overcome friction on first
load but insufficient to overcome friction on cool-down, as
illustrated in Figure 3.

fL
0

0.2

0.4

0.6

0.8

1
P

P
Cooldown
Heatup
Fully Constrained Force

Length (x/L)

Figure 1 - Force Profile Envelope for a Fully Mobilized Pipeline


(f/f* <1)

For simplicity the figure shows the fully constrained force to


be constant along the length. In general this will reduce with
falling operating conditions. The change in fully constrained
force (P) assumes zero effective force following installation.

OTC 17945

Effective Axial Force

0.2

P 0.6

0.4

0.8

1
P

f L/2

P
Cooldown
Heatup
Fully Constrained Force

Length (x/L)

Figure 3 - Force Profile Envelope for a Cyclically Constrained


Pipeline (1<f/f*<2)

For the cyclically constrained case in Figure 3 the walking


behavior depends upon how close the system is to reaching
full constraint. If the system only just reaches cyclic
constraint then the walking will be similar to that of the short
pipeline. However, as the friction increases the response will
tend towards constrained behavior.
Pipeline Walking SCRs
In deepwater field developments, it is common for pipelines to
be tied into the reception facilities by a SCR. The design of
the SCR is such that it pulls the pipeline into tension at the
SCR touch down zone. The introduction of a constant tension
at the end of the pipeline can cause a short pipeline to walk
when it is heated and cooled. This assumes that there is
sufficient axial friction along the pipeline for it to be axially
stable under the highest axial riser tension.
The force profile envelope for a fully mobilized pipeline
attached to an SCR at the cold end is shown in Figure 4.

Analytic Model SCR


Based upon the walking mechanism outlined above simple
equations describing the walk per cycle can be developed.
The length between the virtual anchors Xab can be calculated
by:

X ab =

S f = S R L f

(6)

The change in axial strain is related to the force change


by:-

( S P )
EA

(7)

So the incremental distance walked per cycle can be


obtained by integration as:

R =

Sr

R =

L
0.25

(5)

( S f P ) X ab
EA

(8)

Equations (5) to (7) are combined to define the walk per


cycle due to SCR tension as:

A'

SR
f

On start-up the change in force in the pipeline over the


length Xab is:

B'

Effective Axial Force

cool-down. The slope of the profile indicates the direction of


movement, since it acts to resist movement. This implies that
between A and B the pipeline expands towards the SCR on
heat-up and contracts towards the SCR on cool-down. Outside
this region (O-A and B-L) the force profile reverses between
heat-up and cool-down, therefore expansion and contraction
are equal. The overall global displacement of the pipeline is
therefore governed by the central section (A-B), which causes
the whole pipeline to displace towards the SCR with each
start-up and shutdown cycle.

0.5

0.75

A
Cooldown
Length (x/L)

EA f

(9)

Direction of Movement

( P + S R f L ) S R

Full Temperature

Figure 4 - Force Profile SCR at Cold End

The SCR applies a constant tension Sr, shown on the right


of Figure 4. In practice, this tension will fluctuate with motion
of the FPS (floating production system) and to a lesser extent
with pipeline end expansion. It is considered safe to assume
that dynamic (short time scale) tension fluctuations can be
ignored, as the duration of cool-down and start-up operations
are expected to last several hours.
The presence of a tension at the end of the pipeline causes
asymmetry in the force profile, with the operational virtual
anchor (A) located further from the riser and the shutdown
anchor (B) closer to the riser. Between virtual anchors (A-B)
the slope of the force profile remains the same on heat-up and

FEA Validation - SCR


The analytic model described above has been validated
against pipe walking FE models. A 2 km model has been used
for the validation. Two riser tensions have been considered,
100 kN and 500 kN, the tensions have been applied at the hot
and cold end of the pipeline. The walking per cycle from each
of the validation cases is presented in Figure 5.

OTC 17945

Analytic Results
2.5

FEA results

Walking Towards
Cold End

Pipeline Walking (m/cycle)

2.0
1.5
1.0
0.5
0.0
-600

-400

-200

-0.5 0

200

400

600

-1.0

Analytic Model Seabed Slope


The length between the virtual anchors Xab can be
calculated by:

-1.5
-2.0
SCR at Cold End

-2.5

slope of the force profile remains the same on heat-up and


cool-down, indicating that the pipeline expands downhill
towards B on heat-up and contracts downhill towards B on
cool-down. As for the SCR, the overall global displacement
of the pipeline is therefore governed by the central section (AB), which causes the whole pipeline to displace downhill,
towards the cold endii.

SCR at Hot End

Riser Tension

X ab =

Figure 5 - Walking with SCR Validation Case

Pipeline Walking Seabed Slopes


Seabed slope along the route can cause walking each time the
pipeline is heated and cooled.
For this assessment, a pipeline is laid on a seabed with a
constant slope , where the slope is positive for a seabed
sloping down from the inlet and negative for a seabed sloping
up from the inlet, as shown in Figure 6.
Outlet

Inlet
(+) angle

Figure 6 Seabed Slope Sign Convention

In this case there is a component of the pipeline weight


which acts in the direction of expansion. When the pipe
expands up the slope this acts against the expansion and when
the pipe expands down the slope this acts with the expansion.
This is similar to modifying the friction coefficient in the two
directions and the presence of a seabed slope causes an
asymmetry in the pipeline force profile. This affects the shape
of the force envelope in a similar manner as the SCR tension.
The asymmetric force profile envelope for this slope is shown
in Figure 7.
A'

(10)

The change in force in the pipeline over the length Xab is


given by:

S s = WL( cos sin )

[P + W L sin( ) W L cos( )] L tan ( ) (12)


EA

FEA Validation Seabed Slope


The analytic model described above has been validated against
the pipe walking FE models. Three seabed slopes have been
considered, 1, 2 and 5 up and down from the inlet. The
walking per cycle from each of the validation cases are
presented in Figure 8.
Analytic Results

0.20

FEA results

0.15
0.10
0.05
Slope Angle ()

0.00
-5

-4

-3

-2

-1
0
-0.05

-0.10

B'

-0.15
Up from Inlet

Effective Axial Force

(11)

Based on these definitions and equation (7) the walk per


cycle due to seabed slope is:

Pipeline Walking (m)

Walking due to SCR tension will cease if the friction


restraint is sufficient to cause cyclic constraint, i.e. f/f*>1 (as
shown in Figure 3).

L tan

-0.20

Down from Inlet

Figure 8 - Walking with Slope Validation Case


O

0.25

0.5

0.75

Walking due to seabed slope will cease if the friction


restraint is sufficient to cause cyclic constraint, i.e. f/f*>1 (as
shown in Figure 3).

Wcos -Wsin

Wcos +Wsin
A

B
Cooldown

Direction of Movement

Length (x/L)

Full Temperature

Figure 7 - Force profile Sloping Seabed

For a pipeline that slopes downwards from the inlet, the


hot anchor (A) is located closer to the hot end and the cold
anchor (B) closer to the cold end. Between anchors (A-B) the

ii

Outside this region (O-A and B-L) the force profile reverses
between heat-up and cool-down. Since the friction force is
different up and down the slope there will be a slightly
different expansion over these sections. This effect will only
be significant on steep slopes.

OTC 17945

Pipeline Walking Thermal Transients

1
0.9

Temperature (t/Tmax)

Temperature (t/Tmax)

0.7
0.6
0.5
0.4
0.3
0.2
0.1
0
0

0.25

0.5
Length (x/L)

0.75

Figure 10 - Example Thermal Transients

The linear transients exhibit a constant gradient along the


pipeline until the full steady state profile is reached. The
transients cause the pipeline to expand, resulting in a force
profile on first load as shown in Figure 11.
S

Cooldown

0.2

0.4

0.6

0.8

Heatup

15

0.9

14

0.8

12

0.7
0.6
0.5

Heating steps

0.4

10

Length (x/L)

13

Figure 11 - Example Force Profiles First Heat-up

11

8
7

0.3
0.2
0.1

0
0

0.25

0.5
Distance (x/L)

0.75

Figure 9 - Typical Thermal Transients

The hot fluid enters the pipeline at 0 hereafter called the


hot end. 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.
Previous investigations[2,3] have shown that the steepness
of the thermal transients is the key driver behind walking
behavior. The early stages of the heat up, before the cold end
of the pipeline rises above ambient (before step 9 in Figure 9),
are key.
To examine this phenomena analytically a set of simplified
linear transient temperature profilesiii were used, as shown in
Figure 10.
iii

0.8

Effective Axial Force

Thermal Loading and Transients


An important consideration in pipeline walking
assessments is the direction of flow and the resultant transients
that occur. It is usual to consider the so-called hot end of the
pipeline to be closest to the wellhead, or manifold, while the
cold end is at the reception facility or riser. It will be shown
that the direction of walking at restart, under thermal transient
loading is generally towards the cold end of the pipeline.
Cooling usually occurs after the pipeline is shut-in, as the
whole system gradually cools to ambient conditions without
thermal transient loading. For this reason, walking generally
occurs on start-up but there is no reversal of walking on cool
down. However, many field developments include shutdown
and start-up operations that require the contents of the flowline
to be displaced by dead oil to control hydrate formation. For
such systems, hot oil is usually introduced at start-up to warm
the flowline before bringing in flow from the well. Under
these conditions, the hot and cold ends of the flowline can be
reversed. This is particularly relevant to pipeline walking, as
the steepest thermal transients that drive the walking
phenomenon usually occur during initial heating, or sudden
cooling of the line.
The key to the phenomenon is shape of the thermal profile
developed over time as the pipeline heats-up. A typical set of
heat-up thermal transients is presented in Figure 9.

More complex thermal profiles could be used, but these


complicate the interpretation of the phenomena. Linear
profiles capture the basic physical response and are used

The profile shows the first heating and cool-down cycle for
the pipeline from its as installed positioniv. The compressive
axial force gradually builds up in the line as the pipeline heats
and more pipe is mobilized. When the pipeline becomes fully
mobilized a virtual anchor forms at mid-line and the pipeline
expands from this point towards the hot and cold ends.
When cooled globally, the pipeline contracts about the
virtual anchor at mid-line. Cooling causes the pipeline to go
into effective axial tension (shown as blue). On the second
and subsequent heating cycles, the force in the pipeline builds
up in a modified manner because of the residual axial tension
developed in the pipeline on cool-down (see Figure 12).
Walking Mechanism
Pipeline walking occurs over each thermal cycle; although
walking occurs on first cycle, it is the second and subsequent
cycles which dominate the process. Therefore, the second
load response of the pipeline is considered in detail to
understand the walking mechanism.

throughout this paper.


iv These profiles do not include a change in pressure; this
would tend to reduce the walking. However, it is quite normal
for shutdowns to occur with relatively small changes in
pressure.

OTC 17945

Location of
Virtual Anchor B

B1
B2

B3

B4

O
0

0.2

0.4

0.6

B6

B7

0.8

A1
A2

1
L

150
100

Cold End
Expansion (2)

Full Mobilization (1)

50
0
0

0.2

0.4

0.6

0.8

-50
-100
Length (x/L)

Figure 14 - Pipeline Expansion Following Full Mobilization.

Figure 12 - Example Force Profiles Second Heat-up

As the pipeline heats up and starts to expand at the hot end,


a virtual anchor forms (at A1) and expansion occurs towards
the hot end between O and A1. In order to maintain force
equilibrium a second virtual anchor must form (at B1) and
between the virtual anchors the expansion is towards the cold
end. Downstream of virtual anchor B1, the pipeline has not
been mobilized, therefore there is no change in force along
this section of pipe. As the pipeline continues to heat-up the
locations of the virtual anchors change, the hot anchor (A1)
tends towards the mid-line (A1.A7), whilst the cold anchor
tends towards the cold end.
The effect of the transients on the movement of the
pipeline can be understood by considering the cumulative
displacement through each time increment. Figure 13 presents
the cumulative displacement of the pipeline during the start of
a typical heat-up cycle, from cool-down (with all
displacements set to zero) to the point of full mobilization.

Once full mobilization has occurred (the blue line in


Figure 14, is the same as in Figure 13) the cold end begins to
expand as the temperature continues to rise. In this particular
example the end expansion at full load is about 1100mm; the
figure is truncated to focus on the walking displacement.
Because of the expansion asymmetry earlier in the heat-up
cycle, the middle of the pipeline has moved towards the cold
end (in this case by 45 mm). This displacement is the walk.
Once full mobilization occurs, the midline remains stationary
and walking stops for the remainder of the heat-up cycle.
Cooldown
When the pipeline cools, it typically does so at a uniform
rate along the whole line, this leads to contraction about the
mid-line virtual anchor point. The force profile during unload
is presented in Figure 15.
2nd Unload

Full Mobilization (1)

50
40
Cumulative Displacement (mm)

Continued
Heating (3)

A3

A4
A5
Location of
A6
Virtual Anchor A
A7
Length (x/L)

30
20
10
0
-10 0

Full Temperature (4)

200

0.2

0.4

0.6

0.8

Effective Axial Force

Effective Axial Force

B5

As the pipeline heats up the non uniform expansion is


evident. Pipe close to the hot end of the line tends to expand
towards the hot end whilst the remainder of the line moves
towards the cold end. As the pipeline continues to heat-up the
cumulative displacement increases and peaks at the centre
when the pipeline becomes fully mobilized. Once the pipeline
has become fully mobilized, the subsequent expansion is
centered on the mid-line virtual anchor point. The cumulative
expansion following full mobilization is shown in Figure 14.

Cumulative Displacement (m)

The walking mechanism under thermal transient loading is


understood by examining the relationship between the thermal
transient, the force profile and the displacement of the pipeline
at individual time steps during the heat-up process.
Heat-up
If we consider Figure 10, the first transient from heat-up
only heats 15% of the pipeline, the remaining 85% is cold.
This decay in temperature causes non-uniform expansion of
the pipeline. The associated force profile during heating
(following a full cooldown) is shown in Figure 12.

O
0

0.2

0.4

0.6

0.8

-20
-30

2nd Load
Length (x/L)

-40
-50
Length (x/L)

Figure 13 - Cumulative Displacement Prior to Full Mobilization

Figure 15 - Force Profile Unload

The pipeline unloads symmetrically about the centre of the


pipeline. The cumulative displacement of the pipeline from
one unload to the next unload is presented in Figure 16.

OTC 17945

Cumulative Displacement (mm)

200

steps of xA. An arbitrary stage in the heat-up is considered;


the temperature and force profiles are shown in Figure 18.

Full Temperature (4)


Continued
Heating (3)

150

- w
xk

100

Unload (5)

Temperature Profile
50
q

0
0

0.2

0.4

0.6

0.8

-50

Force Profile

-100

1st Load
Profile for x

Length (x/L)

Unload

Figure 16 - Pipeline Movement Following Unload.

Because the pipeline cools uniformly along its length,


there is no reversal of the displacement at the pipeline centre,
i.e. the global shift of the centre is not recovered. When the
pipeline is re-heated, the process starts again. The transients
cause asymmetric expansion along the length of the pipeline,
the mid point moves towards the cold end, full mobilization
occurs and the mid-line becomes an anchor, on cool-down the
pipe contracts equally about the midline anchor. So with each
cycle, the pipeline walks towards the cold end.
The displacement of the centre of the pipeline over five
heat-up/cool-down cycles is presented in Figure 17.

L/2-kxA

Figure 18 Force and Thermal Profiles

200

At this stage in the heat up the hot anchor point is at a


position kxA and the temperature is above ambient for a
distance xk. By considering the force change as k increases to
k+1, equations for the strain and displacement change along
the pipeline can be developed. These equations have one
unknown, the length of heat-up xk. Imposing the condition
that the displacement at the anchor points is zero yields

150

x k = k x A +

250
Mid-Line Displacement (mm)

L/2

kxA

100

(k x

x k 1

2 f x A (L x A )
f

(13)

To start the analysis the thermal transient is taken at the


location of the anchor point, i.e. x 0 = x A . Once the x k are

Walk per cycle

known the displacement at the centre of the line is then given


by:-

50

2
fx A
(2k 1)
EA

0
0

2
3
Load Cycle Number

Figure 17 - Mid-line Displacement for 5 Load Cycles

Analytic Model Thermal Transients


The analytical model considers a simplified approach to
the walking problem with the following key assumptions:
Linear transient temperature profiles, with constant
gradient throughout heat-up;
No pressure variation is included (pressure = 0);
Axial friction mobilization displacement not modeled;
Pipe is fully mobilized (short); f/f*<1;
Axial friction force less than the force associated with the
thermal gradient (f<f = EA q);
Considers second and subsequent heat-ups only.
An incremental solution is developed in which the position
of the hot anchor point is allowed to move from the inlet to the
centre of the pipeline (after which walking ceases) in k equal

w k =

2
fx A

x k

f x
(2 k 1) k 2

EA
2 EA

((

) (

2
2
2
fx A
(2 k 1) f L x k 1 x k + x k x k 1

EA
2EA

))

L
2

x k 1 <

L
x k
2

x k 1 >

L
2

And the total walk is given by:-

T = w k

(15)

When a sufficient number of increments are considered,


the solution shows good agreement with the FEA, as
illustrated in Figure 19.

OTC 17945

45
40
35

30C/km - FEA
20C/km - FEA
10C/km - FEA
30C/km - Incremental Solution
20C/km - Incremental Solution
10C/km - Incremental Solution

50

30

45

25
20
15

Analytic Solution
Valid Range

10
5
0
0

0.2

0.4

f/f*

0.6

0.8

Walk Per Cycle (mm)

Walk Per Cycle (mm)

pipeline walk versus friction force for the three thermal


gradient cases. The results are presented for the FEA and
analytic models.

FEA Results
Approximate Solution
Incremental Solution

50

(16)

The figure also shows the predictions of a simpler


approximate solution for the distance walked per cycle, which
is given by:

f
f
f
f L2
24 4 if f >
T

16 EA
f
f
6

if f <

f
6

(17)

The walk per cycle varies with the friction force, f, and
there is a given friction force at which the rate of walking
peaks, as defined in Equation 18:

3
f
8

25
20
15
10

(18)

The results from the approximate solution show reasonably


good agreement with the FEA.
The model development assumes that the transients exhibit
a constant gradient along the pipeline until the full steady state
profile is reached. In reality the gradient reduces as the pipe
heats up (Figure 9). The incremental solution can be used
with a changing thermal transient gradient, as long as the
change in gradient over an increment is small.
Effect of Thermal Gradient
The thermal gradient applied to the flowline has a
significant effect on the rate of walking. To illustrate this
three thermal gradients have been considered with a 2 km
pipeline model, 10, 20 and 30C/km. Figure 20 presents the

0.2

0.4

0.6

f/f*

0.8

Figure 20 - Effect of Thermal Gradient 2km Pipeline

The amount of walking per cycle is strongly dependant on


the gradient of the thermal transients. Indeed, the peak
pipeline walk is a linear function of the transient slope, i.e. the
peak displacement of the 30C/km is 3 times that of the
10C/km case.
Effect of Pipeline Length
From the approximate analytic solution the peak walk per
cycle is proportional to the pipeline length squared. The
relationship is illustrated in Figure 21 for two pipeline lengths
and a transient slope of 30C/km.
200

FEA - 2 km
FEA - 4 km
Approximate Solution - 2 km
Approximate Solution - 4 km

Fully mobilised

180
Walk Per Cycle (mm)

f
1.5
f

fmax =

30

The figure presents the walk as a function of the axial


friction force; this is normalized against the constraint friction,
f*. The walking rate is low for very low axial friction because
the pipeline becomes fully mobilized before much of the
transient has passed along the pipeline. The peak walking
occurs when the pipeline reaches full-mobilization close to
when the transient reaches the cold end of the pipeline.
The analytic model can be used to accurately predict the
rate of walking over its range of validity. The range is shown
in Figure 19 and the limit can be calculated using Equation 16.

f L2
8 EA

35

Figure 19 - Analytic Model Validation

40

160
140
120

Thermal transient
=30 C /km

100
80
60
40
20
0
0

0.2

0.4

0.6

0.8
f/f*

1.2

1.4

1.6

Figure 21 - Effect of Pipeline Length on Walking

The FEA results confirm the relationship between length


and walk. However, as the length of the pipeline increases the
likelihood of reaching a position of constraint increases, which
modifies the behavior.
Behavior of Constrained Pipelines

Pipeline walking is known to occur in short (fully


mobilized) pipelines. If the thermal gradient is steep enough
then walking can also persist through a section of full
constraint. The response is controlled by the ratio of the
thermal transient gradient force to the friction force, f/f. If
f/f> 1 then walking can persist even though the pipeline is
fully constrained at its centre, as illustrated in Figure 22.

OTC 17945

450

f/f*=1.13
f/f*=1.51
f/f*=1.89
f/f*=2.26
f/f*=2.64

400
Walk (mm/cycle)

reason can be illustrated by considering the 20 mm


mobilization displacement case, Figure 24.

First Load
Constraint

Cyclic Constraint

350
300
250

Analytic
FEA

200
150
100
50
0
0

0.5

1.5

2.5

f/f*

100
80
70
60
50
30
10
0
0

(19)

For most pipelines this is unlikely to be a practical problem


and full constraint will arrest walkingv. In the example
considered in Figure 22 a gradient of 60C/km is required to
continue the walk through the constrained section.
Effect of Mobilization Displacement
The amount by which a pipeline will walk is also affected
by the axial friction mobilization displacement.
The
mobilization displacement is defined as the amount of axial
elastic displacement that occurs before the full friction force is
generated. To illustrate this, a 2 km pipeline with a thermal
transient gradient 30C/km and a friction force of 300 N/m is
considered.
Figure 23 presents the movement of the mid-line over five
load cycles for a range of mobilization displacements from
0.1 mm to 20 mm.
0.1mm Mobilisation

Mid Line Displacement (mm)

200

5mm Mobilisation

180

10mm Mobilisation

160

20mm Mobilisation

140
120

Load Cycle

The figure shows that the mid line displacement reaches a


peak followed by a reduction from that peak. The reduction is
termed the elastic recovery of the soil and its magnitude is
very close to that of the mobilization displacement of the soil.
In this assessment the FEA assumes that the mobilisation
displacement is wholly elastic, in reality this may not be the
case. Clearly the selection of mobilization displacement is
critical when performing a walking analysis using FEA.
Effect of Internal Pressure
The model outlined above is based on temperature loading
only. Changes in internal pressure ahead of thermal loading
will cause a degree of mobilization of the pipeline before the
thermal transients pass, and will reduce the walk associated
with the thermal transients. This is illustrated in Figure 25.
Cooldown

Pressure only
Full Temperature
Apply Internal
Pressure

0.2

0.4

0.6

0.8

Transient
Heat-up

100

Length (x/L)

80
60

Figure 25 - Force Profile Including Pressure Step

40

The effect of pressure can be incorporated into the models


by defining a reduced effective length over which the
transients act. However, in many cases the difference between
operating pressure and shut-in pressure is small, thus pressure
will have limited benefit in reducing walking. In addition, if
the pipeline has been depressurized, it is usual to increase
pressure after heating has commenced to control hydrate
formation; so that mitigating the rate of pipeline walking by
pressurization ahead of heating is usually unacceptable for
operational reasons.

20
0
0

Load Cycle

Figure 23 - Effect of Mobilization Displacement on Walking

The walking displacement is reduced as the axial


mobilization displacement increases; the peak walk per cycle
occurs when the mobilization displacement is close to zero
(this is the condition addressed by the analytic model). The
v

Figure 24 - Mid-Line Walk 20mm Mobilization displacement

Effective Axial Force

P 2 1 1

2 EA f f

Permanent Walk

20

Figure 22 - Walking Limits Analytic and FEA model comparison

T =

Elastic Recovery

Peak Displacement

40

For a pipeline with a significant fully constrained length


(f/f* >3) the rate of walking is given by:-

20mm Mobilisation

90
Mid Line Displacement (mm)

Fully Mobilised

This observation
developments.

may

not hold

true in XHPHT

Combined Loading
Walking can be driven by each of the three mechanism
discussed above.
For many pipelines more than one

10

OTC 17945

Implications for Field Architecture


Pipeline walking is an important phenomenon that can
threaten the integrity of a pipeline system. The severity of the
phenomena increases as the operating conditions become more
severe. As operating temperatures increase pipelines become
more susceptible to walking and the walking magnitude with
each cycle increases.
Shutdown and start-up cycles that lead to pipe-walking
may require some form of mitigation if, over a number of
cycles, this movement would lead to excessive global axial
displacement of the pipeline. Axial displacement is excessive
if it compromises the design of pipeline end terminations, inline connections or riser configurations. To illustrate how
serious an issue pipeline walking can be Table 1 presents the
walk associated with different drivers for an 8-inch surface
laid pipeline operating at 110C, that is subjected to 200 full
start-up-shutdown cycles over its lifetime.

Length

Driver

Walk/cycle

Walk/Life

2km

10C/km transient

15 mm

3m

2km

30C/km transient

45 mm

9m

4km

30C/km transient

180 mm

36 m

2km

100kN SCR tension

350 mm

70 m

2km

5 Slope

170 mm

34 m

Table 1 Example Walking Results

In each of these examples the walk per cycle can appear to


be small but considered over the entire field life, the total axial
displacement can become excessive.
The most common method of mitigation is the installation
of flowline anchors to control or limit the maximum axial
displacement. The size of such anchors can be significant,
typically being in the range of 50 to 350 tonnes. Provision for
anchoring is important to address in the layout of multiple
flowline end terminations at a manifold.
End of line anchors are generally considered simpler to
install than a mid-line anchor. A unidirectional anchor is
preferred to a fixed anchor, as this reduces the required anchor
capacity by allowing thermal expansion towards the anchor
whilst limiting excessive walking displacement away from the
anchor. This configuration also avoids increasing compressive
loads in any lateral buckles along the pipeline. Anchor design
capacity can be further reduced by incorporating anchor
flexibility in the analysis and the anchor size can possibly be
reduced by designing the anchors to sustain loading only
during relatively infrequent pipeline shutdowns. Anchor loads
and walking susceptibility can be also moderated by
increasing pipe weight but this approach is case specific.

A major concern raised by the use of holdback anchors to


control pipe walking, is the additional tension in the pipeline
generated at shutdown by the restraining anchors. The
concern is that tension in these pipelines could be sufficient to
cause lateral instability (ratcheting lateral displacement) of the
pipeline at a route-curve. Except for the shallowest of curves,
this instability can pullout the route-curve, allowing further
pipe to walk axially, until the curvature is small enough to be
laterally stable. The minimum stable radius of curvature may
be so large as to compromise field architecture. The tension
profiles, anchor loads and susceptibility of a pipeline to curvepullout should be addressed in front-end engineering design,
to ensure that field architecture is not compromised. In some
cases, it may be necessary to include a mid-line tie-in to
overcome route curve instability.
It is common now for high temperature pipelines to be
designed to buckle laterally on the seabed. Designing a long
pipeline to laterally buckle effectively splits the pipeline into a
number of shorter lines between buckles[3]. This is illustrated
in Figure 26.
S

Effective Axial Force

mechanism may be active. In this case the mechanisms can


add to increase the rate of walking, or subtract to reduce it.
For example if the SCR is attached at the top of a slope it will
act to reduce the slope induced downhill movement. For
systems in which more than one mechanism is active, the
analytic models derived here can be used in isolation and then
combined to provide an estimate of the overall walk.

Buckled Pipe - Unload


Buckled Pipe - Load

0.2

0.4

0.6

Straight Pipe - Unload


Straight Pipe - Load

0.8

1
Length (x/L)

Virtual Anchor
Lateral Buckle

Figure 26 -Force Profile in Laterally Buckled Pipeline

The buckles effectively split a long pipeline, which may


not walk, into a series of shorter pipelines which could walk.
The analytic expressions can be used to quickly assess
whether walking may occur in a buckled pipeline by
modifying the effective pipeline length to match the spacing
between lateral buckles. The use of holdback anchors can
affect lateral buckling behavior and influence loading in the
lateral buckles. The interaction between lateral buckling and
pipeline walking is complex and requires the use of FEA to
investigate the phenomena fully.
Finally, the walking behavior is critically dependant upon
the axial friction force. In most situations decreasing the axial
friction results in an increased susceptibility to walking. It is
therefore crucial to select a suitable range of axial friction
coefficients at the design stage. It is common practice to
define very low lower bound axial friction coefficients; this is
particularly true in soft clays where axial friction coefficients
of 0.2 are regularly employed. For such low friction
coefficients, full mobilization will occur for very long lengths
of pipe and the walking mechanisms outlined here will all be
active.
However, recent work carried out by the SAFEBUCK JIP
suggests that the axial friction that develops in practice is very
unlikely to be this low. Selecting a more appropriate lower

OTC 17945

bound can fundamentally modify the severity of the walking


problem.
Conclusions
This study has determined the key parameters that effect
pipeline walking and developed some simple analytic
equations for use in conceptual design, to assess the likelihood
of walking occurring.
The key parameters that affect walking are:
Axial pipe-soil friction;
Gradient of the thermal transients;
Steady state operating conditions, which defines the range
of effective force;
Seabed slope;
Tension at the flowline end due to a SCR.
This phenomenon can massively complicate the design of
deep water flowlines and has significantly impacted field
layouts on a number of recent projects.
Acknowledgements
The authors would like to thank the participants in the
SAFEBUCK JIP. BP, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, Petrobras
and Shell, as well as the US Government through the MMS
participated in Phase I, while installation contractors and
suppliers were represented by Allseas, JFE-Metal One,
Technip and Tenaris.
Additional participants including
Chevron, Statoil and Stolt Offshore have joined Phase II,
which will run through 2005 and 2006.
Abbreviations

11

External Pressure (Pa)


Fully Constrained Effective Force (N)
Change in Fully Constrained Force (N)

pe
P

Thermal gradient (C/m)

q
S
SL
SR
Sw

S
S f
S s
W
Xab

inst

Nomenclature

Ae
Ai
As
E
EA
f

Cross sectional area of Pipe OD (m2)


Cross sectional area of Pipe ID (bore) (m2)
Cross sectional area of Pipe wall (m2)
Youngs Modulus (N/m2)
Axial Stiffness (N)

Force generated by the thermal transient EAq


(N/m)
Friction force at which cyclic constraint occurs
(N/m)
Friction force at which max walk occurs (N/m)
Pipeline Length (m)
Internal Pressure (Pa)

f*
fmax
L
pi

Axial Friction force f=W (N/m)

Change in Effective Axial Force over Xab (SCR) (N)


Change in Effective Axial Force over Xab (Slope) (N)
Submerged Unit Weight (N/m)
Distance between virtual anchors (m)
Coefficient of Thermal Expansion (1/C)
Total Walk per cycle due to SCR Tension (m)
Total Walk per cycle due to Seabed Slope (m)
Total Walk per cycle due to Thermal Transients (m)
Axial Strain
Seabed Slope ()
Operating Temperature (C)
Installation Temperature (C)
Axial Friction Coefficient
Poissons Ratio

References
1.

FEA
Finite Element Analysis
FPS
Floating Production System
JIP
Joint Industry Project
SCR
Steel Catenary Riser
XHPHT Extreme High-pressure High-temperature

Effective Axial Force (N)


Residual Lay Tension (N)
SCR Tension (N)
Axial Wall Force (N)
Change in Effective Axial Force (N)

2.

3.

Konuk, I. Expansion of Pipelines under Cyclic


Operational Conditions OMAE 1998.
Tornes, K., Jury, J., Ose, B., Thompson. Axial Creeping of
High Temperature Flowlines Caused By Soil Ratcheting
OMAE 2000.
Carr M., Bruton, D. and Leslie, D. Lateral Buckling and
Pipeline Walking, a Challenge for Hot Pipelines Offshore
Pipeline Technology Conference, Amsterdam. 2003.