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conference & convention enabling the next generation of networks & services


Inge Vintermyr (Nexans Norway AS)
Email: <inge.vintermyr@nexans.com >

Nexans Norway AS, PO.Box 6450 Etterstad, N-0605 Oslo, Norway.

Abstract: This document describes the physical processes and the corresponding equations
determining on-bottom stability of offshore cables. It presents an overview of DNV offshore
design code RP-F109 On-Bottom Stability Design of Submarine Pipelines. Finally, on-
bottom stability for a set of FO-cables, power-cables, an umbilical and a pipeline are
calculated with RP-F109 at different geographical locations around the world. Vital
parameters for on-bottom stability are briefly discussed.

Increasing demand for communication,
control and monitoring of offshore oil and
gas fields has called for fibre optic (FO)
links connecting to stationary surface
plants, to land or intra-field. URC1-LW URC1 - SA

The offshore applications of FO submarine

cables have resulted in more focus on on-
bottom stability of cables at certain
weather/sea bed properties. It is commonly
specified that the FO cable shall remain
stable on the sea floor under defined
conditions. DNV-RP-F109 /1/ On Bottom
Stability Design of Submarine Pipelines is URC1-DA2 URC1-RC
commonly referred to.
Figure 1. FO Unrepeatered Cables
In this paper on-bottom stability will be
calculated for a range of FO cables and
compared with other cables, umbilicals and
piplines in order to evaluate if the FO
cables are different in terms of on-bottom

Typical unrepeatered FO cables are shown ROC-LW ROC - SA

in Figure 1, whereas repeatered FO cables
are shown in Figure 2.
Typical power cables and umbilicals are Figure 2. FO Repeater Cables, LW and SA
shown in Figure 2 and 3.
Physical characteristics for all cables are
shown in Table 1 on page 5.

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described with the following empirical

FD = w D C D (U w sin ( p t ) + U C )
1 2

FL = w D C L (U w sin ( p t ) + U C )
1 2

24 kV Power 145 kV Power dU w
Inertia: FI = w D 2 C M
4 dt
Figure 3. Power Cables Where w is water density (kg/m3), D is
pipe outer diameter (m), Uw is the velocity
of an oscillatory flow (m/s) with angular
frequency p(s-1), UC is the current velocity
(m/s), ws (N/m) is the submerged weight, u is
coulomb friction coefficient and CL, CD, CM are
the lift, drag and added mass coefficients.

Current velocity and direction are normally

measured 2-5 m above seabed. The current
velocity near the seabed will be reduced
due to the boundary layer effect which is
dependent on seabed roughness (clay,
sand, boulders).
Figure 4. Umbilical In most cases only significant wave height
(Hs) and corresponding wave period is
2. SEABED STABILITY THEORY accessible on a specific site. The
In the following chapters, pipe is used as oscillatory flow velocity Uw (and angular
a generic term for FO-cables, umbilicals frequency p) at the seabed can be
and pipelines. calculated by using numerical or analytical
Many different factors are involved in the linear wave theory (airy wave). The effect
assessment of on-bottom stability of of wave spreading should also be
electrical cables, pipelines and power/ accounted for.
control umbilicals. Figure 5 shows the For both current and wave simple
forces acting on the pipe. decomposition is used in order to find the
normal component on the pipe. A
conservative approach is to assume that
FLOW both wave and current act in the normal
FI+FD direction.
Resistance against movement is due to two
different effects (ref 0).
(wsFL)u+FR(z) 1. PurecoulombfrictionFC=(wsFL)u
2. Resistanceduetopenetrationintothe
Figure 5. Driving and resisting forces on a
circular pipe resting on the seabed. Penetration is due to self weight, piping,
dynamics during laying and penetration
Loads can be divided into lift (FL), Drag due to pipe movement under the action of
(FD) and Inertia (FI) forces, and they can be waves and current. Piping is the movement
of sand under the pipe due to pressure

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difference on each side. The pressure temporary phase and a more permanent
difference is caused by current. Penetration operational phase:
varies with seabed type and is larger on Temporary Phase:
soft clay/loose sand than on hard For temporary phases with duration in
clay/dense sand. excess of three days and less than12
Three different approaches regarding on- months, a 10-year return period applies.
bottom stability may be followed (ref [1]). This condition may be approximated by
the most severe condition among the
1. Allowingaccumulateddisplacement: following two combinations:
Underthisapproach,thepipewillbreakoutof 1. The10yearreturnconditionforwaves
itscavitymanytimesduringanextremesea combinedwiththe1yearreturn
state.Thedisplacementunderbothextreme conditionforcurrent.
damageanditisimportanttobeawareofthis. 2. The1yearreturnconditionforwaves
2. Nobreakout(VirtualStability): forcurrent.
For permanent operational conditions and
approachthepipewillnevermoveoutofits temporary phases with duration in excess
cavity.Thesesmalldisplacementswillbuildup of 12 months, a 100-year return period
resistanceduetomorepenetrationintothe applies. When detailed information about
seabedand/ortrenching.Noaccumulated the joint probability of waves and current
displacements. is not available, this condition may be
approximated by the most severe condition
3. Absolutestability:
among the following two combinations:
1. The100yearreturnconditionforwaves
The first and the second method will only conditionforcurrent.
work if the oscillatory component of the
load forces is large enough to move the 2. The10yearreturnconditionforwaves
pipe. At large water depth, the wave combinedwiththe100yearreturn
induced oscillatory current is negligible conditionforcurrent.
and only a steady state current will act on
the pipe. If this current is large enough to
move the pipe, and it is conservatively
assumed that the current acts in one
direction only, displacement will
accumulate in one direction only. Under
these conditions absolute stability is the
only reasonable approach to follow.

The load combination which is used during

an on-bottom stability analysis is
dependent on the time span the pipe will be
exposed. It is normal to separate between a

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RP-F109 needs a large set of different

parameters. The most important parameters
PROGRAMS D: Pipe outer diameter [mm]
The most accurate approach for stability
ws: Pipe submerged weight per
calculation is to use a commercial software
unit length [kgf/m]
product. Two major software programs
Hs: Significant wave height [m] for
-Pondus (Marintek, Norway)
extreme sea states ( 1, 10 and 100
years return period)
Both programs are based on time domain
Tp: Wave Peak period [s] for Hs
dynamic analysis. It is typical to simulate a
three hour severe storm when performing
Uc: Current speed [m/s] for extreme
dynamic analysis. The results from the
analysis consist of time series of both events (1, 10 and 100 years return
lateral displacement and loads (stress,
strain etc). There are relatively few
companies performing time domain d: Water Depth [m]
dynamic analysis for the assessment of on-
bottom stability because of the time and su : Un-drained clays shear strength
work involved. [kPa]
An easier approach for on bottom stability
assessment is to use the methods described s: Submerged unit soil weight. For
in the DNV offshore design code DNV- sand normally in the range 7000
RP-F109 On-bottom stability design of (very loose) to 13 500 N/m (very
submarine pipelines. This code replaces dense)
the old DNV-RP-E305 On-bottom
stability design of submarine pipelines. d50: Mean sand grain size [mm]
We are not aware of any other design
codes/standards for on-bottom stability The oceanographic data (Hs, Tp, Uc) have
design. to be derived by statistical methods from
RP-F109 describes methods for the three long term measurement of both wave and
different approaches from the theory current. Wave and current direction is also
section: possible to give as an input but normally it
1. AbsoluteStability is conservatively assumed that the wave
and current direction is perpendicular to
2. VirtualStability,displacementlessthan
the pipe. The oceanographic data is
0.5xOD generated by specialized companies such
3. Accumulateddisplacement,lessthan as e.g. Metoc in the UK. The Metocean
10xOD report for a specific project is usually tailor
made for the specific area, and is
All methods calculate a minimum required purchased by the end user/field developer.
submerged weight in order to fulfill the Seabed data is established by taking soil
allowable displacement. The two lasts samples at different locations in the area
methods are based on a large set of full where the pipe is going to be installed.
dynamic analyses performed by using DNV StableLines1.2 is commercially
PONDUS. These analyses are used as a available and implements RP-F109 in a
basis for making design curves for these software program.

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4. ON-BOTTOM STABILITY Table 3. Seabed stability calculations different

CALCULATIONS AND RESULTS cables at North Sea (ref Table 2).

In order to compare bottom stability of Cable Type Subm. W

Seabed ReqSw, Abs
different FO cables, calculations have also URC-1-LW1.9 0,38 Sand 0.79 No
Clay 2.06 No
been performed for power cables, URC-1-SA3.2 0,70 Sand 0.89 No
umbilicals and a pipeline. Their URC-1-DA2 2,30
characteristics are shown in Table 1. Clay 2.99 No
URC-1-RC 11,00 Sand 2.01 Yes
Clay 3.51 Yes
Table 1.Characteristics for cables, umbilicals and ROC-LW 0,31 Sand 0.75 No
pipeline, ref cross-sections shown on page 1 and 2. Clay 1.96 No
ROC-SA3.6 1,50 Sand 1.19 Yes
Clay 2.97 No
Cable Type OD Mass Subm. W Subm.W/ OD
(mm) (kg/m) (kgf/m) (kg/m2)
Power 24 kV 9,60 Sand 3.87 Yes
Clay 8.76 Yes
URC-1-LW1.9 19 0,67 0,38 20.00
Power -145 kV 55.00 Sand 7.85 Yes
URC-1-SA3.2 22 1,10 0,70 31,82
Clay 10.50 Yes
URC-1-DA2 33 3,20 2,30 69,70
Umbilical 16.40 Sand 9.52 Yes
URC-1-RC 64 14,50 11,00 171,88
Clay 22.76 No
ROC-LW 18 0,55 0,31 17,22
24 Pipeline 489.30 Sand 37.64 Yes
ROC-SA3.6 30.0 2,20 1,50 50,00
Clay 32.84 Yes
Power 24 kV 88.0 14.40 9,60 109,09
Power -145 kV 194.0 77.00 55.00 283.51
Umbilical 161.5 40.40 16.40 101.55 Table 4. Seabed stability calculations for different
24 Pipeline 814 1192.7 489.30 601.10 cables at Pesian Gulf (ref Table 2).

Cable Type Subm. W Seabed ReqSw, Abs Stable

(kgf/m) (kg/m) Abs
The field conditions studied are shown in URC-1-LW1.9 0,38 Sand 0.002 Yes
Clay Yes
Table 2. URC-1-SA3.2 0,70 Sand 0.003 Yes
Clay 0.003 Yes
URC-1-DA2 2,30 Sand 0.005 Yes
Table 2.Typical key data for stability calculations Clay 0.005 Yes
at different locations. Clay shear strength and grain URC-1-RC 11,00 Sand 0.011 Yes
Clay 0.011 Yes
size are set to arbitrary values since no specific ROC-LW 0,31 Sand 0.002 Yes
information is accessible. Clay 0.002 Yes
ROC-SA3.6 1,50 Sand 0.004 Yes
Clay 0.004 Yes
Area d Hs Tp Uc Su d50
Power 24 kV 9,60 Sand 0.017 Yes
(m) (m) (m) (m/s) (kPa) (mm)
Clay 0.017 Yes
North 290 16 18.5 0.41 10 Power -145 kV 55.00 Sand 0.047 Yes
Sea Clay 0.047 Yes
North 290 16 18.5 0.41 0.5 Umbilical 16.40 Sand 0.037 Yes
Sea Clay 0.037 Yes
Brazil 1300 7.16 14.8 0.58 10 24 Pipeline 489.30 Sand 0.278 Yes
Brazil 1300 7.16 14.8 0.58 0.5 Clay 0.278 Yes
Gulf of 1913 14.2 14.9 0.1 10
Gulf of 1913 14.2 14.9 0.1 0.5 Table 5. Seabed stability calculationse for different
Mexico cables at Pesian Gulf (ref Table 2).
Persian 51 6,1 11,2 1,3 10
Gulf Cable Type Subm. W Seabed ReqSw, Abs Stable
Persian 51 6,1 11,2 1,3 0.5 (kgf/m) (kg/m) Abs
Gulf URC-1-LW1.9 0,38 Sand lift No
Clay lift No
URC-1-SA3.2 0,70 Sand lift No
Calculations for the various pipes at Clay lift No
URC-1-DA2 2,30 Sand lift No
North Sea environments, Persian Gulf and Clay lift No
Gulf of Mexico are shown in Table 3, 4 URC-1-RC 11,00 Sand 29.1 No
Clay 76,8 No
and 5, respectively. ROC-LW 0,31 Sand Lift No
The calculations are peformed by means of ROC-SA3.6 1,50
StableLines v1.2 Software. Clay Lift No
Power 24 kV 9,60 Sand 44.6 No
Clay 115.6 No
Power -145 kV 55.00 Sand 120.1 No
Clay 315.5 No
Umbilical 16.40 Sand 64.9 No
Clay lift No
24 Pipeline 489.30 Sand 790.3 No
Clay 1959.9 No

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be dependent on the location of where it is

The results for on-bottom stability analysis to be installed.
for the cables in Table 1 under different Since FO cables are normally much
conditions in Table 2 are clearly showing smaller and lighter(i.e low submerged
that the submerged weight to outer weight to diameter ratio) compared to
diameter ratio (Sub/OD) is the governing power cables, umbilicals and pipelines, on-
parameter of a pipes on-bottom stability. bottom stability is often difficult to achieve
The trend is clearly shown by the analysis for FO cables.
results when sorting on submerged weight
to outer diameter ratio as shown in Table 6. Hence, a pragmatic approach is necessary
In Table 6 the minimum Subm.W/OD in the on-bottom stability assessment of
which gave a stable pipe is listed. FO submarine cables:
Furthermore, the analyses show that
minimum required Subm.W/OD is 1. Allinvolvedpartiesshouldplanforthat
dependent on geographical location and it burying,trenching,rockdumpingorany
is therefore impossible to give a general similarmethodwillmostlikelybe
statement about the stability of different
The calculations for the Persian Gulf are 2. Calculateonbottomstabilityforthe
showing that the conditions at shallow environmentalconditionsavailableforthe
waters in the Persian Gulf can be very projectathandtoestablish/confirm
extreme, and all pipes are unstable at extentofstability(orratherlackthereof).
those conditions. 3. Assesshowmuchapracticabledesign
Table 6. Minimum Subm. W/OD which gave stable
pipe for the following conditions in Table 2. whetherchangesshouldbemade.
4. Focustheengineeringtoassessatwhich
Area MinSubW/ODSand MinSubW/ODClay
Abs0.5xOD10xOD Abs0.5xOD10xOD 5. Formostinstallationssomelateral
North 50.0 31.8 109
Brazil 17.2 20,0 servicelifetimeofthecablesystem,butit
Gulf of 17.2 17.2
Mexico mightbemorecriticalforapipe(less
Persian 600 lift
Gulf flexibility).
6. Lateraldisplacementsmightinmanycases
The results for on-bottom stability analysis [1]RecommendpracticeDNVRPF109,
as per DNV-RP-F109 have clearly shown
that the submerged weight to outer
diameter ratio (Sub.w/OD) is the
governing parameter of a cabless on-
bottom stability at certain weather [2]RPE305,Onbottomstabilitydesign
conditions. ofsubmarinepipelines,October1988
The weather and seabed conditions vary
greatly with respect to geographical
location, hence the minimum required
Subm.W/OD ratio for a cable design will

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