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Effects of Underwater Explosion on Pipeline Integrity

[+] Author Affiliations
Lorenzo Maria Bartolini, Lorenzo Marchionni, Antonio Parrella

Saipem S.p.A., Fano, Italy

Caterina Molinari

Saipem S.p.A., San Donato Milanese, Italy

Paper No. OMAE2015-41092, pp. V05AT04A004; 15 pages
  • ASME 2015 34th International Conference on Ocean, Offshore and Arctic Engineering
  • Volume 5A: Pipeline and Riser Technology
  • St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada, May 31–June 5, 2015
  • Conference Sponsors: Ocean, Offshore and Arctic Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-5651-2
  • Copyright © 2015 by ASME


Unexploded charges e.g. mines, bombs, torpedoes, etc... are rarely identified at a very early stage of reconnaissance surveys for pipeline route corridors. These ordnances are found during detailed pre-engineering or pre-lay surveys and, sometimes and not surprisingly, during the ordinary surveys performed on the pipeline in service. UXOs represent a hazard for the pipeline as well as for the assets and people involved in the construction phase. An appropriate mitigation plan in areas potentially affected is generally performed, including ordnance removal or mined-area clearance. Large diameter long offshore trunk lines crossing different territorial waters are often exposed to this kind of hazard. As such, pipeline construction and operation call for advanced numerical modelling as unique/valuable tool for providing a quantitative measure of the UXOs related risks.

In recent projects the understanding of the underwater explosion process and prediction of damages associated to specific weapon-target engagement are based on the outcome of engineering tools based on finite element modelling. The continuing development of multi-purpose and multi-physics finite element analyses codes facilitates their application, providing sharp and detailed insight into the complex subject of underwater explosive effect and the coupled response of nearby structures. The scope of the structural integrity assessment is to define the minimum distance to be guaranteed between the pipeline and unexploded ordnance to avoid any risk of pipeline damage, as a function of the quantity of explosive. The engineering task of the integrity assessment includes the definition of the relevant conditions for the pipeline whether buried or free spanning, the analysis of the interaction between the gas bubble and shock pressure waves and the cylindrical shape of the pipeline, both as a shell that collapse under a pressure wave and a pipe length that moves laterally and develops bending. The objective is to evaluate the minimum allowable distance of the ordnance from the pipeline, as a function of the explosive quantity and type.

In this paper, a series of real cases is presented in order to provide the most relevant parameters characterizing the integrity assessment under the applied load scenario from propagating shock waves. The propagation in water of shock pressure waves induced by the underwater explosion of a spherical charge is performed using finite element modelling, after model verification and validation with respect to the analytical and experimental formulations available in open literature. The outcome from finite element modelling is compared with findings from a simplified model based on modal analysis of the pipe shell – inward bulging and collapse of the pipe section and of the pipe beam – lateral displacement of the impacted stretch and bending at the crest of the buckle.

Copyright © 2015 by ASME



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