This paper describes the work performed to assess the stability of an existing pipeline off the North Western coast of Western Australia. Originally, the pipeline was post-trenched (for stability), by ploughing. The plough formed an open v-shaped trench below the pipeline. Several years after the pipeline was installed, a severe cyclone caused significant changes to the seabed along the pipeline. The v-shaped ploughed trench is generally no longer visible with the trench backfilled in places and the pipeline exposed in others. In addition to this, the embedment profile either side of the pipeline was often found to be assymetrical, with higher embedment on one side of the pipeline relative to the other.

Current on-bottom stability guidelines and recommended practices do not account for the effects of assymetrical embedment and seabed mobility (Ref. 5). These two factors are believed to contribute significantly to the overall stability of the pipeline. Consequently, it was decided to use physical model testing to obtain a better understanding of hydrodynamic loading and changes in embedment over the duration of a design storm. The physical model testing was performed for various pipeline embedment profiles. The results of these 2D physical model tests were then applied to the 3D FEA on-bottom stability software, CORUS 3D.

This paper provides a detailed description of the physical model testing program performed as part of the pipeline stability assessment. The method used to combine the results of the physical model testing and apply them to the 3D FEA on-bottom stability software is also presented.

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