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D. KAYE Andrew Palmer and Associates, a Division of SAIC Limited 13 Bon Accord Square Aberdeen AB 11 6DJ United Kingdom



model to predict the lateral buckling behaviour of hot pipelines exposed on the seabed


described. Lateral buckling design predictions are compared against the observed

movement of an operational pipeline. The implications for the design and construction of

high temperature pipelines are discussed.


A subsea pipeline which operates at temperatures and pressures above seabed ambient

conditions will tend to expand. If this expansion is restrained, for example by axial fiiction between the pipeline and the seabed, then an axial force will be developed in the pipeline. This force may be large enough to induce Euler (bar) buckling of the pipeline.

Many subsea pipelines need to be trenched or buried to provide physical protection against seabed objects such as trawl gear. Large axial forces will cause a buried pipeline

to buckle upwards through the overburden and will cause a trenched pipeline to buckle

up the side wall of the trench. In both cases the pipeline may become exposed and at risk from impact. This upheaval buckling problem has been studied in detail and design techniques have been developed to ensure against it"].

Some subsea pipelines are laid directly on the seabed. Large axial forces will generally cause an exposed pipeline to buckle sideways, or laterally, on the seabed. Lateral buckling of an exposed pipeline does not affect the risk of impact of the pipeline and has less severe consequences than upheaval buckling. Lateral buckling has therefore

ASPECT '96 p

01966 Soc~etyfor Underwater Technology


Pr~ntedIn the UK



received rather less attention from pipeline designers. However lateral buckling may still be a problem if the bending deflections induced in the pipeline exceed design criteria and subsequently threaten the integrity of the pipeline.

A number of buckles have been observed in operational pipelines in the North Sea. The

better known cases are due to upheaval buckling but there are a number of other cases where lateral buckles have been observed. These buckles provide valuable data which can be fed back into the design process, and which allow the validity and accuracy of

pipeline design techniques to be assessed.

This paper addresses lateral buckling and compares the predictions of a design model against the observed lateral movement of the Total Alwyn North Extension flowlines. In particular, the paper addresses the formation and development of a number of buckles within a pipeline, and discusses the effect of pipeline out-of-straightness on buckle formation and development. The implications for pipeline design and installation are discussed.


Theoretical Buckling Analysis

A hot pipeline exposed on the seabed could buckle upwards, sideways or at an angle to

the seabed. The actual direction of movement will depend on the resistance against movement and on any out-of-straightness of the pipeline. Typical lateral fiiction coefficients are less than one, and so the uniformly distributed soil resistance against lateral movement is less than the resistance against upwards movement provided by the submerged weight of the pipeline. Assuming that the pipeline has no severe component of out-of-straightness in the vertical plane, then a pipeline laid directly onto the seabed

without cover will buckle sideways on the seabed rather than upwards.

A pipeline on the seabed can displace to either side of its original position. The pipeline

can buckle into either a symmetric or asymmetric mode, where the symmetry is referred

to an axis drawn through the centre of the buckle and perpendicular to the original centre-

line of the pipeline. The symmetric and asymmetric modes are illustrated in Figure 1. In

the symmetric mode a large main half-wave forms at the centre of the buckle, while in the asymmetric mode two main half-waves form on either side of the centre of the buckle. The actual mode which will be adopted by the pipeline will depend on the pipeline out-of-straightness in the horizontal plane, and on any other seabed features which could influence the lateral movement of the pipeline.


The asymmetric and symmetric modes consist of one or two central half-waves surrounded by a decaying sequence of half-waves moving away from the centre of the buckle. The sequence of half-waves arises because the distributed soil resistance forces cannot provide the concentrated lateral forces at the ends of each half-wave which are required for equilibrium. The amplitude of each hdf-wave decreases rapidly with increasing distance from the centre of the buckle.

Figure 1

Symmetric and Asymmetric Buckle Modes

The total length of pipe over the half-waves of the buckle is greater than the length of the initially straight pipe over the same section. The formation of a buckle therefore involves the movement of pipe into the buckle from the straight pipeline on either side of the buckle, and leads to a modification of the axial force within the pipeline. The axial feed- in movement for a single, isolated buckle in an infinitely long pipeline is illustrated in Figure 2.





Figure 2


















Feed-In to a Single Buckle in an Infinite Pipeline

Theoretical interest in lateral buckling was originally driven by the problem of continuously welded railway tracks under thermal e~~ansion[~'~].More recently the theory has been applied to subsea pipelinest441.Further numerical work has also been The "classical" theoretical analysisof lateral buckling considers the relatively simplified situation of an isolated lateral buckle in an infinitely long pipeline. The analysis is applicable to small elastic deflections only, neglects second-order effects due to large displacements or plasticity, and assumes that the axial force in the pipeline remains constant throughout the buckled section.

The theoretical analysis determines the final configuration of the buckle fiom the equilibrium of the buckle and the compatibility requirement that the increase in arc length around the buckle must be equal to the axial feed-in from the straight pipeline outside the buckle. The buckle is considered as a sequence of half-waves. The complexity of the analysis increases rapidly with the number of half- waves which are considered. Fortunately the rapid decay in the amplitude of each half-wave means that it is usually only necessary to consider a few half-waves nearest to the centre of the buckle. The literature uses a buckle mode number to describe the number of half-waves which are considered by the analysis. These mode shapes are illustrated in Figure 3, where the definition of buckle length L is the same as used by ~obbsl~].All of the idealised modes in Figure 3 assume some form of concentrated lateral force at the end of the outermost half-waves for equilibrium. The error introduced by this assumption is greatest for mode 1 (which is the same mode as an upheaval buckle) but becomes insignificant for higher modes.

Mode 1

Mode 3

Mode 4

Figure 3


Theoretical Buckle Modes

L buckle lenoth as defined by iiobbs



The results of the theoretical analysis are summarised below. For a thin-walled pipeline which is fully constrained from axial or lateral movement, the effective axial force in the pipeline (which includes the contribution due to the internal pressure'91)is given by

where D is the pipe diameter, r is the wall thickness, Ap is the pressure difference between the internal and ambient seawater pressures, and ATis the temperature difference between the operating and installation temperatures. The configuration of the buckle can be determined by solving the following expression for buckle length L,

where P is the compressive effective axial force within the buckle, given by

The maximum amplitude of the buckle can then be determined from

and the maximum bending moment is given by

In these equations p is the axial coefficient of friction, p~ is the lateral coefficient of friction, Wis the submerged weight of the pipeline, A is the cross-sectionalsteel area, E is the Young's modulus, and I is the second moment of area. The five constants k,,



dependent on the particular mode of buckling. These constants are

reproduced below, taken from Hobbs and ~ian~'".

Table 1-Lateral Buckling Constants



Typical results of the analysis are shown in Figure 4 which shows the fully constrained

axial force in the pipeline Poas a function of the buckle length L.

U-shaped curve which describes the equilibrium axial force for a range of different buckle lengths. The actual equilibrium solution can be obtained by a graphical or iterative process which determines the appropriate value of buckle length L for the fully constrained axial force Po.The minimum of the curve corresponds to the lowest value of

Poat which a buckle is stable; this is the "safe" force which defines the maximum theoretical force which can be withstood without risk of buckling.

The figure shows a


Figure 4

Results of Lateral Buckling Analysis

The analysis described above considers the single lateral buckle in an infinite pipeline shown in Figure 2. It is useful to express the axial feed-in to the buckle separately, which

then allows the analysis to be extended to other pipeline configurations. discussed later in this paper.

This is

For the single buckle in a fully constrained pipeline, the axial feed-in on either side of the buckle is equal to the integrated axial strains in the pipeline within each feed-in zone. For the case in Figure 2 where the fully constrained axial force is constant along the pipeline, the axial feed-in on either side of the buckle is equal to


Compatibility of displacements requires that this feed-in from outside he buckle must be equal to the increase in the length of pipe inside the buckle. The increase in the pipe length inside the buckle, 24 is equal to

where the first term describes the increase in length along the displaced axis of the pipeline, and the second term describes the tensile elongationof the pipeline due to the reduced compressive force within the buckle. The feed-in A can be eliminated from equations 6 and 7 to give equation 2.

Pipeline Out-of-Straightness

The theoretical analysis discussed above is based on a perfectly straight pipeline. The situation is more complex for a real pipeline which contains out-of-straightness imperfections in the plane of the seabed. In particular, out-of-straightness has a significant effect on the critical force at which buckling first occurs.

The effect of out-of-straightness is illustrated in Figure 5, which shows the axial force in the pipeline Poplotted as a function of the buckle amplitude j. The plot is similar to Figure 4 and shows a U-shaped curve which describesthe equilibrium configuration defined by the theoretical analysis.

Figure 5 also shows two typical curves which illustratethe behaviour of a pipeline with initial out-of-straightness.

The first curve describes the behaviour of a pipeline with a small initial out-of- straightness imperfection. The axial force in the pipeline increases as the pipeline heats up from cold. Very little, if any, movement occurs as the axial force increases, and the equilibrium path in the figure moves upwards. The force-amplitudepath passes to the. left hand side of the theoretical equilibrium curve as the axial force passes the theoretical "safe" axial force. The force will increase up to the critical buckling force. At this bihcation point the lateral deflection suddenly increases rapidly ("snap" buckling) and the force-amplitude path moves over to the right hand side of the figure. A further increase in axial force will be accompanied by further stable (post-buckling) movement upwards on the right hand side of the theoretical equilibrium curve. The force-amplitude path shows that the pipeline may be able to withstand a much greater axial force than the theoretical safe force before the onset of buckling. The exact critical force at the onset of buckling will depend on the magnitude of the initial imperfection.

Figure 5



The second curve in Figure 5 describes the behaviour of a pipeline with a much larger initial imperfection. In this case the lateral deflection of the pipeline increases steadily as the pipeline heats up. There is no bifurcation point and the pipeline continues to deflect to the right hand side of the theoretical equilibrium curve.

In the majority of cases a pipeline will be laid with relatively small imperfections, and the behaviour of the pipeline will resemble the first curve in Figure 5. The figure shows that it is relatively straightforwardto define the "safe" force below which buckling will not occur, but it is difficult to define the actual critical force at the onset of buckling. Analyses show that the critical force is sensitive to the magnitude of the out-of- straightness.

This difficulty in predicting the actual buckling force is important. In general the soil resistance against lateral buckling for an exposed pipeline is much less than the overburden resistance against upheaval buckling deflections for a buried pipeline, and it is often impractical to design an exposed pipeline to avoid lateral buckling. The pipeline designer may therefore allow lateral buckling to occur, on the basis that controlled lateral deflections may not threaten the integrity of the pipeline. Controlled movement may even be beneficial for other reasons because it can provide a relaxation of the axial force in the pipeline. In order to ensure controlled behaviour, the designer must therefore be able to predict the actual buckling force. The actual buckling force, and therefore the pipeline out-of-straightness, is of critical importance in developing acceptable pipeline designs.


Sequential Buckle Formation

The analysis described above describes the formation of a single buckle in a fully constrained infinitely long pipeline. This rarely occurs in practice; the effective axial force in a hot exposed pipeline is often si_enificanttylarger than the critical buckling force so that buckling may occur over much of the pipeline length. This suggests that the process of buckle formation may be more complex than described by the conventional lateral buckling model. For example, buckle formation will be influenced by non- uniform heating of the pipeline from the hot end and by interaction between adjacent buckles. This behaviour can be considered by a more sophisticated lateral buckling model which considers the sequential formation and development of multiple buckles in a pipeline. The model can also be used to address buckle formation in a short pipeline where the buckle feed-in zones interact nith the expansion zones at each end of the pipeline.

The same theoretical buckling analysis presented earlier in this paper can be used to describe more complex buckle behaviour, but where equation 6 is replaced with more complex and realistic expressions for the feed-in of straight pipeline. These feed-in expressions model the history of buckle formation and development as the pipeline heats up from the inlet end.

The typical process of buckle formation and development is illustrated in Figures 6 to 9. The figures show the effective axial force profiles in a relatively short pipeline. The figures can be compared against Figure 2 for a single buckle in an infinite pipeline.

Figure 6


Heafing of Pipelina


( FJty Corsaalned Force -

Axial Force Profiles

Expans~onLimt 1



Figwe 6 shows a sequence of fully constrained axial force profiles as the pipeline is pressurised and then heats up fiom the hot end. The exact form of these profiles can be determined by a transient hydraulic analysis, but is here assumed to fol.10~a family of

exponential decay curves describing the drop in temperature fiom the inlet end, where the decay constant decreases as the pipeline heats up. The fully constrained axial force is the maximum axial force which can exist in the pipeline. The actual axial force at each end

of the pipeline is less than this fully constrained axial force due to end expansion.


actual effective axial force must therefore remain within the triangular "envelope"


in Figure 6, where the slope of the axial force in the end expansion zones is equal to the

axial fiction coefficient multiplied by the submerged weight of the pipeline.

The greatest axial force in the pipeline occws at the anchor point at the end of the inlet expansion zone where the pipeline first becomes fully constrained. As the pipeline heats up this anchor point moves inwards away fiom the pipeline inlet and the effective axial force at the anchor point increases. The first buckle will form when the axial force in the pipeline rises above the critical buckling load in the pipeline. This critical buckling load depends on the pipeline out-of-straightness; provided that the typical out-of-straightness features are uniform in size and are distributed regularly along the pipeline, then the first buckle will form at the inlet anchor point where the axial force is greatest.

a I


Formedon of FirscBuckle







1 .--

Figure 7


Before Buclde Formaoon After Buckle Forrnaoon 1

Formation of First Buckle

Figwe 7 shows the axial force profile following the formation of the first buckle. The formation of the buckle causes the pipeline to feed-in towards the buckle and a reduction in the compressive axial force at the buckle. The feed-in zone on the left hand side of the buckle extends from the buckle to the end of the expansion zone at point 1. The feed-in



zone on the right of the buckle extends from the buckle up to the start of the fully constrained pipeline section at point 2. Point 2 is a true anchor point, where the pipeline has zero axial strain and is stationary. In contrast, the pipeline at point 1 has non-zero strain, and has also moved outwards towards the inlet because of pipeline end expansion prior to the formation of the buckle.

The critical buckling force can be determined from equation 7 where the total feed-in 26 is given by the general expression

where the two inte_mtionson the right hand side correspond to the integrated axial strains over the left and right hand feed-in zones, z, is the outwards movement of point 1 towards the pipeline inlet, and z2 (which is here equal to zero) is the outwards movement of point 2 away from the pipeline inlet.


Formation of Second Buckle






Figure 8



Before Buckle Formstion -

After Buckle Format~on1

Formation of Second Buckle

This first buckle, denoted buckle A, grows as the pipeline heats up further. The axial force in buckle A drops as the buckle increases in size, and the feed-in zones increase in length as points 1 and 2 both move outwards away from the buckle. As the pipeline heats up further the axial force at point 2 increases. Again, provided that the pipeline out-of- straightnessdoes not vary significantly along the pipeline, then the second buckle will form at this location once the axial force rises above the critical buckling load. The formation of this second buckle (buckle B in Figure 8) is similar to the formation of buckle A. The feed-in zone on the right hand side of the buckle B extends from the



buckle up to the true anchor point at the start of the fully constrained section. The feed-in zone on the left hand side of buckle B extends from buckle B back to the intersection with the feed-in zone on the right hand side of buckle A. The boundary condition at this point is similar to the boundary condition at point I, i.e. the pipeline has non-zero strain at this point, and has also moved outwards (towards the pipeline inlet) because of pipeline expansion into buckle A.

AXIAL FORCE PROFILE: Final Configuration


Actual Ax~alForce ----- Fullv Constra~nedAx~alForce I

Figure 9

Final Axial Force Profile

The boundary conditions for the feed-in zones for bucklei A and B are therefore similar in form. The pattern of buckle formation and development is also the same for the formation and development of any subsequentbuckles. The same process of buckle formation therefore repeats along the pipeline as the pipeline heats up. The process continues up to the outlet of the pipeline, at which stage the model must consider the interaction between the feed-in to the final buckle and the outlet expansion zone. The final force profile is shown in Figure 9. The figure shows that the actual effective axial force in the pipeline is substantially less than the fully constrained force. The process of buckling has allowed a relaxation of the force in the pipeline due to the outwards movement at the location of each buckle. This relaxation may be particularly beneficial for very high temperature pipelines.

The model therefore tracks the formation and development of existing and new buckles with the heating of the pipeline. One feed-in expression similar to equation 8 is required for each buckle in the pipeline. The size of these buckles is determined fiom an iterative solution to these expressions. At each stage the analysis tests for the formation of the next new buckle by looking for a solution of equations 7 and 8.



The analysis is too laborious to perform manually, but is straightfoxwardto run using an iterative PC-based program.


The Total Alwyn North Extension (ANE) consists of three subsea wellheads located in a cluster approximately 5.4 km south of the Alwyn North NAA and NAB platforms. The wells are tied back to the NAA platform via three 6-inch by 15.9 mm wall thickness flowlines, and a single composite control umbilical. The flowlines export multiphase

well head

fluids at temperatures of around 80 "C and pressures of around 150 bar.

The soils in the Alwyn North area are composed of a sandy layer overlying hard clay and have proven to be dificult for trenching. The ANE flowlines are laid directly onto the seabed. Annual inspections of the flowlines have identified lateral movement of the flowlines in a traditional "lateral buckling" mechanism. Operational data at the time of the survey are available which describe the inlet and platform anival pressures, temperatures and fluid properties, and can be used to estimate the effective axial force profiles along the flowlines. The flowlines therefore provide a valuable opportunity to assess the predictions of the lateral buckling model.

It should be noted that engineering analysis of these features has demonstrated that the stresses within each feature remain below yield and within design criteria.

The assessment described below is based on the 1993 and 1994 side-scan surveys of the ANE PSW3 flowline from the E2 wellhead. The two surveys of the PSW3 flowline both reported three areas of lateral movement towards the inlet end of the flowline, at KP 4.5, KP 3.8 and KP 3.2 (where the inlet of the flowline is at KP 5.4). The features &e shown in Figure 10. The survey data exhibit some scatter but the overall shape of each feature can be clearly identified. The features at KP 4.5 and KP 3.2 are both asymmetric buckles which follow the classical mode 2 or 4 shapes. The feature at KP 3.8 does not follow a classical mode shape so clearly; the 1993 survey data suggest a symmetrical mode 3 shape while the 1994 survey data suggest a more asymmetric mode 2 or 4 shape.


- z











KP 3.2

KP Iml


Figure 10 Lateral Movement of ANE Flowlines



The observed behaviour of the flowline can be compared against the predictions from the design model. As discussed above, the behaviour of the pipeline during operation depends on the initial out-of-straightness in the plane of the seabed. No information is available describing the out-of-straightness of the ANE flowlines. The design calculation has therefore been performed by assuming that the pipeline is straight except for imperfections at the location of each feature only, and that the out-of-straightness at each feature is such that the pipeline remains straight up to the point that the maximum force in the pipeline (which occurs at the hot anchor point shown in Figures 7 and 8) reaches the imperfection. The analysis assumes that snap buckling then occurs, and each buckle subsequently develops as predicted by the theoretical analysis.

The results of the comparison are presented in Figures 11 and 12. The plots show the actual pipeline configuration and the predicted configuration from the lateral buckling analysis. The buckle mode shapes and the axial and lateral friction coefficients have been chosen to give the best match to the observed buckle configurations. The figures show that the agreement between the design model and observation is reasonable. The model predicts the buckle wavelength well but is less reliable when predicting the buckle amplitude.

The discrepancies between the predicted and observed behaviour may be due to the unknown out-of-straightness of the pipeline. The discrepancy may also arise because of variability in the axial and lateral soil forces. For example, the lateral soil force may increase as the pipe displaces sideways and pushes spoil ahead of it. Spoil mounds have been observed during surveys of the ANE flowlines, which may increase the lateral resistance and limit the maximum amplitude of the feature. The axial soil force may also vary with displacement, which would modify the linear axial force profiles assumed in the analysis. Also, soil conditions and forces may vary with location. The agreement between the predicted and observed configurations can be improved substantially by choosing different friction coefficients for each feature.

The axial and lateral friction coefficients used in Figures 11 and 12 are equal to 0.8 and 0.6 respectively. These values were found to give the best match to the observed behaviour. The analysis was performed using an approximate trial and error method, but it should be noted that the predicted buckle profiles are relatively insensitive to reasonable combinations of fiction coefficients. The lateral fiction coefficient of 0.6 is reasonable for a pipeline on seabed of a thin layer of sand overlying firm clay. The axial fiction coefficient of 0.8 is rather higher than perhaps could be expected, but is still consistent with other measurements'Io1and design practicet111.The high value may reflect partial embedment or burial of the flowlines in some limited areas, or may reflect small amounts of out-of-straightness which will allow axial compression to be taken up by modest amounts of lateral displacement.


- E



3 -

2 --






KP Iml

KP Iml



Figure 11 Predicted and Actual Movement, 1993 Survey Data


Figure 12 Predicted and Actual Movement, 1994 Survey Data



Finally, it is informative to compare the predictions fiom the-newbuckling model against the predictions fiom the conventional lateral buckling model for an isolated buckle in an

infinitely long, fully constrained pipeline. Figure 13 shows the comparison for the

second buckle, at KP 3.8, using the same friction coeficients of 0.8 and 0.6 and using the

fully constrained axial force at the location of the feature. The analysis for the single buckle predicts a substantially larger buckle than the more refined buckling model proposed here. The isolated buckle analysis is clearly conservative, but may be unacceptably conservativefor pipeline designs where lateral buckling is critical.



- - - - - Mult~plebuckle model


S~nglebuckle model

Figure 13 Predictions of Single Buckle Model


The results shown above show that the revised buckling model can provide much more realistic predictions of lateral buckling behaviour in a pipeline. The model demonstrates that the effects of (i) finite pipeline length and (ii) interaction between adjacent buckles lead to much smaller buckles than predicted by the conventional model for an isolated buckle in an infinitely long, fully constrained pipeline. This distinction is important for pipelines which operate at high temperatures and large axial forces.

The model presented here shows how the lateral buckling behaviour of a pipeline depends on the buckle locations and the number of buckles in the pipeline. It is preferable to have many small buckles rather than one large buckle. In effect the total pipeline expansion is shared between the available buckles; if the buckles are closely spaced then the axial feed-in to each buckle will be less and each buckle will be smaller in size.



The number of buckles which form in the pipeline is governed primarily by the pipeline out-of-straightness (and to a lesser extent by the axial and lateral friction forces). The pipeline designer will therefore need to know the as-laid out-of-straightness in order to predict the subsequent pipeline behaviour. Techniques for measuring the vertical out-of- straightness of a pipeline are well established; however it is difficult to measure pipeline out-of-straightness in the horizontal plane. Conventional survey techniques are unable to measure the pipeline profile to the accuracy required for the prediction of buckling forces. At present, the only technique for accurate measurement of out-of-straightness in the plane of the seabed is to run an inertial pig through the pipeline, with cost and possibly operational implications. Further survey developments in this area may have benefits for high temperature pipelines where lateral buckling behaviour is critical for design.

The beneficial effect of a large number of buckles means that perfectly straight pipelines should be avoided, because the high critical buckling force will lead to the formation of a limited number of large buckles. This is in clear contrast to upheaval buckling design where a straight (level) pipeline is resistant to buckling and is desirable. This also raises the possibility of installing intentional out-of-straightness features which encourage the development of regular, equally spaced buckles in the pipeline. One option is to install intentional out-of-straightness features at regular intervals along the pipeline. These features may be installed using straight linepipe but installing the imperfection as a lay radius from the lay barge. This in turn raises a number of design and instal.lation questions; for example, the designer must determine the required lay configuration to ensure that the buckles form as intended and the installation contractor must ensure that the features are installed as specified. The designer must then ensure that the buckles subsequently develop in a uniform and consistent manner so that one buckle does not grow in preference to the others, and that cyclic creep effects which allow a buckle to develop in size over the operational life of the pipeline are avoided. Many of these questions can be resolved by physical tests.


A lateral buckling model is proposed which considers the sequential formation and development of more than one buckle in a pipeline. The model considers the effect of the finite pipeline length and the interaction between feed-in zones of adjacent buckles. The model is compared against the observed behaviour of a small diameter pipeline. The model gives reasonable predictions of buckle size.

The model shows how a large number of closely spaced buckles leads to buckles of smaller size than a smaller number of more isolated buckles. The number of buckles depends on the lateral out-of-straightness of the pipeline, which determines the critical buckling force, and therefore governs the number and severity of buckles in the pipeline.





The author would like to thank Total Oil Marine plc for permission to publish this paper. The author would also like to acknowledge helphl discussions with Andrew Palmer, Roger Hobbs and Phillippe Blondin, and would like to thank Richard Ficken, Steve Redford and Paul Henderson for assistance with the publication of this paper.



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