As the oil and gas field has expanded its search for hydrocarbons, the demand for subsea removal and transportation has increased. As a result, subsea engineering companies have worked to develop more technologies for extraction and moving these hydrocarbons. One of the main technological developments in this area, although not altogether new, is the subsea pipeline.

Modern Subsea Engineering Companies
The use of subsea pipelines dates back to WWII, when Allied forces ran secret pipelines across the English Channel from Britain to France in order to maintain fuel supplies. However, modern subsea engineering companies have developed installation and operation methods that are safer, more efficient and more cost-effective.

Subsea Pipeline Engineers
Subsea pipeline companies must be able to do more than simply offer basic engineering services; they must be able to offer services with a multi-disciplinary approach in order to create and implement a pipeline design correctly. Subsea engineering companies need to have engineers who can apply theories from the hydrodynamics, thermodynamics, geological science, and chemistry fields in order to effectively engineer a subsea pipeline infrastructure.

In order to build an offshore pipeline that can function safely and effectively, engineers must have a working knowledge of these industries and take into account other factors, such as internal and external pressure, soil consolidation, fluid constituents, water temperature and current, and wellhead and/or rig status. Subsea infrastructure designers must also know how to prevent situations that can cause problems with the pipeline, such as:

Line fracturing
Improper pressurization
Fatigue failure
On-bottom instability
Localized buckling
Large-scale buckling

Designing the Subsea Pipeline
Much goes into planning out and actually laying a subsea pipeline. Subsea engineering companies must consider route management, stability management, stress reduction, and material selection. In the most basic case, a direct straight-line rout can work, and is ideal. However, subsea obstacles, protected environments, and even political stipulations can complicate the route of a subsea pipeline.

The methods used to lay the pipe must match the topography of the sea floor. In certain situations, the pipe may not be in contact with the sea floor for significant spans. Thus, strain-based designs are necessary to prevent buckling in the line. Further, pipe thickness, width, and building materials must be able to withstand internal and external pressures placed on the pipeline based on the water depth. Engineers need to know which material is best suited for the location in which the pipeline will be installed.

Ultimately, when properly designed and installed, a subsea pipeline can yield years of effective service.