Abstract

A primary challenge of Arctic and harsh environment offshore field development is the protection of subsea pipelines and flowlines on the seabed. Damage from ice either through direct contact or through soil movements/pressures acting on the pipeline from ice gouging is a serious risk. Trenching and burial of pipelines in Arctic and harsh environments such as the Beaufort Sea, Chukchi Sea and the Grand Banks are considered to be the primary means of preventing damage from ice. Trenching can provide adequate protection for pipelines in Arctic areas. This paper presents the challenges associated with trenching and burial of pipelines and flowlines in Arctic and harsh environments, and discusses the state-of-the-art trenching and dredging technologies. Future equipment developments required to meet functional specifications for working in Arctic and harsh environments is then presented. Furthermore, key areas surrounding the operability of trenching and associated equipment are also discussed. This paper shows that there are a number of challenges facing trenching pipelines in arctic regions, and there are limitations of current trenching and dredging equipments. A continued effort is required by the industry to overcome a number of key issues and challenges and promote productions in Arctic and harsh environment frontiers.

Introduction

The world demand for oil and gas is growing at an ever increasing rate and, as a result, there is a demand to explore new areas for more petroleum production. The arctic region is one of the remaining unexplored areas where such exploration still can be undertaken. According to the US Geological Survey estimates, the arctic region, mostly offshore, holds as much as 22% of the world's untapped reserve of hydrocarbons where much of the reserve is lying under seasonal or year-round sea ice. The exploitation of these remaining reserves, however, will depend upon meeting the technical challenges of design, construction, and operation of offshore installations. These general Arctic technical challenges have been previously presented [1].

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