Vortex induced vibration is a major cause of fatigue failure in submarine oil and gas pipelines and steel catenary risers. Even moderate currents can induce vortex shedding, alternately at the top and bottom of the pipeline, at a rate determined by the flow velocity. Each time a vortex sheds, a force is generated in both the in-line and cross-flow direction, causing an oscillatory multi-mode vibration. This vortex induced vibration can give rise to fatigue damage of submarine pipeline spans, especially in the vicinity of the girth welds.

In this paper, an integrated numerical framework is presented to predict and identify free spans that may be vulnerable to fatigue damage caused by vortex induced vibrations (VIV). An elegant and efficient algorithm is introduced to simulate offshore pipeline installation on an uneven seabed. Once the laydown simulation has been completed, the free spans can be automatically detected. When the fatigue screening for both inline and cross-flow VIV indicates that a particular span may be prone to vortex induced vibrations, a detailed fatigue analysis is required.

Amplitude response models are constructed to predict the maximum steady state VIV amplitudes for a given pipeline configuration (mechanical properties) and sea state (hydrodynamic parameters). The vibration amplitudes are translated into corresponding stress ranges, which then provide an input for the fatigue analysis. A case study from the offshore industry is presented, and sensitivity analyses are performed to study the influence of the seabed conditions, where special emphasis is devoted on the selection of pipe soil interaction parameters.

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