Ocean-structure-seabed interaction: O-tube modelling of pipeline stability

D.J. White, S. Draper, L. Cheng, H. An, H. Mohr and S. Leckie

A key facility used by researchers in the Centre for Geotechnical Science and Engineering is the set of O-tube flumes established at UWA. These flumes are a unique concept that have been developed at UWA to allow simulation of ocean-structure-seabed interactions using realistic metocean and geotechnical conditions. The large, small and mini O-tube flumes allow seabed flows to be simulated at a range of scales, including full scale modelling of small subsea pipelines. Interactions between mobile sediments and infrastructure can be monitored. This paper describes the O-tube facilities and uses example results to illustrate the range of problems that can be tackled. A key outcome from the O-tube research program has been a new methodology to assess the stability of pipelines on mobile seabeds, which is a common design requirement offshore Australia. This methodology is allowing more efficient and cost-effective design of the pipelines that are the vital arteries of Australia’s offshore oil and gas infrastructure.