This paper presents the application of a reliability based design methodology for interference between trawl gear and pipelines, and the associated cost savings in subsea rock installation.

As part of Wintershall Norge's Maria development project, a 26 km long 14″ production flowline with DEH (Direct Electrical Heating) and a 46 km (43 km + 3 km infield) long 12″ water injection pipeline has been installed and left exposed on the seabed. The seabed topography in the area is un-even and scarred by iceberg ploughmarks, leading to a significant number of large free spans. Furthermore, fishing activity must be taken into account in the design of these pipelines. According to DNV-RP-F111, if the trawl gear hits in a free span, the pull-over load will be significantly higher than if it hits a section in contact with the seabed.

Preliminary analysis indicated that by using the LRFD (Load and Resistance Factor Design) approach as per DNV-RP-F111, a large number of free spans would require rock infill in order to limit the trawl pull-over load. In order to optimize the design and potentially reduce the requirement for free span infill, an optimised methodology based on SRA (Structural Reliability Analysis) was proposed by Wintershall, developed by DNV GL and implemented by Subsea 7 during detail design phase.

The optimised methodology involves FE analyses of the sensitivity to various parameters and Monte Carlo simulations, in order to quantitatively assess the probability of failure. Specific FE models analysing the bending moment capacity and response were established. The various input parameters were assessed and included as distributions if deemed required from the sensitivity analysis. Finally, a Monte Carlo simulation was performed to calculate the probability of failure.

It was demonstrated that the target safety levels defined by DNV-OS-F101 were reached without free span infill, and hence significant savings in subsea rock installation could be achieved without any deviation from the DNV-OS-F101 code. Cost saving due to reduced subsea rock installation scope is estimated to 7.6 mill Euro. Wintershall facilitated a close dialogue between DNV GL and Subsea 7 throughout the work progress. This resulted in a constructive and open approach, ensuring efficient delivery of the detailed design in line with project schedule.

The work carried out has demonstrated two relevant examples where performing a SRA, as opposed to a LRFD, has resulted in a significant reduction of seabed intervention requirements and an associated cost saving, while still being in compliance with DNV-OS-F101 target safety levels. To our knowledge this is the first time the SRA method has been applied for trawl interference design on a live project, and on a CRA (Corrosion Resistant Alloy) lined pipeline with DEH system attached. The success was made possible by close collaboration between the parties involved; Wintershall, DNV GL and Subsea 7.

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