Response of subsea pipelines to ice-induced geohazards

Lay Summary 

Subsea pipelines are a key element and component of oil and gas field developments in offshore Newfoundland and other harsh ocean environments. One of the most significant risks to subsea pipelines in cold waters is ice-induced scour in the seabed. Protection such as trenching or burial of the pipeline is the most practical and cost effective solution to avoid direct interaction with an ice gouge. However, estimating the minimum reliable burial depth to obtain a sufficient level of pipeline protection, and using exposed pipelines to eliminate the large subsea trenching costs, are challenging technical problem. The answers rely on a better understanding of complex ice gouging processes and particularly subgouge soil deformation. In the past 20 years, numerous research studies have been conducted to advance the industry's understanding of ice gouging. But there are still many uncertainties in ice gouge problems that were recently identified as knowledge gaps (NRC-PERD (2014), BSEE-WGK (2015).


This research program focuses on addressing key knowledge gaps and improving our understanding of subsea pipeline deformation in harsh ocean environments. The approach of the proposed research program lies in both advanced numerical studies and centrifuge model testing, by targeting the assessment of the pipeline response to large deformation subsea geohazards. The project involves a team of 17 HQP (6 PhD, 4 MEng, 4 BEng, and 3 PDF). The outcomes have direct benefits for the industry partner, Wood Group, and its ability to safely design offshore pipelines for ice-gouge environments like Newfoundland's Grand Banks. Wood Group will integrate the outcomes into its operations by improving the design and life cycle integrity management of pipelines in ice-gouge environments. The proposed research program is therefore well aligned with the technical challenges and needs faced by Wood Group and others working in this sector of the offshore industry. Through this research program, our team and industry partner will be able to implement and apply the results in engineering software tools used to analyze and design offshore pipelines for ice-gouge environments in Newfoundland and elsewhere.


Adapted from:

Civil Engineering
Natural Sciences And Engineering Research Council Of Canada
Newfoundland and Labrador
Oil and Gas
Start date 
1 Jan 2017
End date 
31 Dec 2020
Partner Organization 
Wood Group Canada Inc.