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Pipe Laying Methods -1

S Lay Method
Aug 2014
• S-lay takes its name from the suspended shape of the pipe at
the end of the barge,which lays in a gentle ‘S’ from the stinger
to the seabed.
• The crucial feature of thismethod is that the pipe must be held
under tension to hold its shape.
• There are two main activities that we must consider:
• • The pipe assembly line, known as the ‘firing line’
• • Control of the lay curve, performed by the tensioners
• There have been four generations of lay-barges and the vessels
are of two types:
• anchor and dynamically positioned
First Generation Laybarge
• The above picture shows the derrick laybarge (DB
17), it is a typical first generation S-lay barge,
which is a relatively uncomplicated vessel design.
• The one shown is a flat-topped vessel used by
J.Ray McDermott in the Gulf of Mexico.
• It was constructed in 1969 and can handle pipe
diameters up to 1524 mm (60 in).
• There are 5 welding stations and it can lay in
water depths between (30 ft) and (1500 ft).
First Generation Laybarge
• It takes 12 metre lengths of pipe which can be seen
stacked on its deck.
• It placesthese in a firing line running down the centre
of the vessel, prior to them beingwelded together.
• The pipe then runs out of the stern of the barge, down
the stinger and into the water.
• As the pipe is welded up, so the vessel is winched
forward on ananchor system.
• It utilises a 12-point mooring system for station
Second Generation S-Laybarge
• The second generation laybarges, e.g. the ‘Choctaw I’ shown above,
were very much larger than the first generation vessels and were
better equipped for the environmental conditions of the North Sea.
• Some of these laybarges had ship shaped hulls, but the majority
were semi-submersible vessels.
• ‘Choctaw I’, the first second-generation lay vessel, was built in 1969.
• It was designed to fit through the Panama canal and so proved too
narrow to be an effective crane vessel.
• However, its service in the North Sea, as a pipelay barge,
demonstrated the benefits of the semi-submersible hull shape for
that environment.
Third Generation S-Lay Barge
• Third-generation vessels are larger than the second-generation
laybarges, their larger width making them more stable.
• Semi-submersible hulls were utilised for the harsh North Sea
• The ‘LB200’ S-lay barge (previously ‘Viking Piper’) is shown
above and is an anchored semi-sub larger than a football pitch.
• It has a rigid stern ramp and double jointing capability, where
12m pipe joints are welded offline and the 24m joint is welded
into the pipe-string in the firing line.
• It has a length of 162 m, a width of 60 m and a work deck 13.2
m above sea level.
• Other similar vessels include ‘Semac-1’ and the ‘Castoro Sei’.
Fourth Generation Vessel –S-Lay
• Fourth generation S-lay construction vessels have recently been
brought into service and are mono-hull vessels which utilise
powerful dynamic positioning thrusters tohold station and so are no
longer reliant on anchors.
• Examples of fourth generationvessels are the ‘Solitaire’ and the
‘Lorelay’ operated by Allseas.
• The Solitaire operates in deepwater and can lay pipe of comparable
diameters to the J-lay vessels.
• The lay rates of Solitaire are considerably better than J-lay and
higher than other S-lay vessels.
• The Solitaire vessel utilises two double-jointing plants, seven main
firing line welding stations, one NDT station and two coating stations
• Most S-lay vessels are of the anchored type.
• There are normally 8 or 12 anchorsdepending on vessel size.
• A failure of one anchor is not catastrophic, and failure of all
• anchors highly unlikely.
• The anchor winches are fitted to the corners of the vessels and the
anchors aredeployed by anchor handling tugs.
• When operating close to other pipelines and platforms, the
position of each anchor needs careful monitoring with a
bargemanagement system.
• The anchor spread for a vessel is determined from the piperoute,
other installations in the vicinity and environmental conditions.
• Different types of anchors can be fitted, depending on the holding
force required and the seabed soil conditions along the pipe route.
• The vessel moves along the pipe route by pulling on the forward
anchors and holding tension on the aft anchors.
• The port and starboard anchors hold the vessels’ lateralposition.
• As water depths increase, the amount of time required to deploy
anchors can affect lay-rates.
• Lengths of chain are incorporated in the anchor wires to reduce
the catenary length.
• The operation of an anchored laybarge is, therefore, restricted
to‘shallow’ water in uncongested areas
DP vessel
• A dynamically positioned (DP) vessel has a number of
thrusters located on its hull or hulls.
• These are linked to the vessel’s GPS and run constantly to
maintain the vessel on its pre-set station or route.
• Modern vessels operate on a DP system and, because they
are independent of any water depth limitations, a number of
the earlier vessels are being converted.
• A disadvantage of the system is that it requires large amounts
of power.
• Vessels have different ratings of DP, which give an indication
as to the distances they can operate from fixed installations
DP Vessel
Summary- S Lay
• There have been four generations of lay-barge.
• They began with simple flat-bottom barge designs, then
moving to spud-legged semi-submersible type barges
for improved stability and now there are refurbished
ship-shaped lay vessels.
• The station holding capability of the S-lay vessels is
provided by two different methods.
• Anchored vessels have a series of anchors to keep the
vessel in a fixed station.
• .
Summary- S Lay
• Anchored vessels have a series of anchors to keep the
vessel in a fixed station.
• The anchors are moved intermittently by anchor-
handling tugs, and the barge pulls itself along on these
• Then there are also dynamic positioning thrusters which
are directional propeller systems that can be used to
move the ship in lateral directions and so hold position.
• Combinations of anchors and dynamic positioning have
been used on some vessels.
S-Lay Stages
• Initiation.
• The pipeline must be lowered to the seabed
under controlled tension.
• A point of fixity is selected on the seabed, usually
by an anchor or a pile.
• A cable is then linked from the point of fixity to a
start-up head on the pipeline.
• The vessel lowers the pipe to the seabed whilst
maintaining the tension in the cable to ensure the
correct tension in the pipeline.
Pipelaying Initiation
• The pipelaying process begins with installing an anchored point
on the seabed to which the initiation head is attached.
• The anchor may take many forms such as:
• • Heavy-duty anchor
• • Dead-man anchor (DMA)
• • Pile in the seabed
• • Suction pile
• • Jacket leg
• A chain is attached to the anchor and a steel wire connects the
pipeline and chain.
• The pipeline is always in tension, which increases as the pipe is
S-Lay Stages
• Loading and storage.
• As pipe lay continues it will be necessary to re-
supply the vessel with pipe joints.
• These can be supplied from shore on smaller
pipe carrier vessels and then loaded by crane
onto the lay vessel.
Loading and Storage
• Laybarges are comparable in size to a football pitch and are accompanied by a
fleet of smaller support vessels.

• There are four main types of support vessels, each performing a different role:

• Pipe carrier: These transport the pipe from onshore to the laybarge. The
pictureabove shows a storage rack of concrete coated 20” OD pipe. The white
bands on thelinepipe in the foreground are anodes.

• Anchor tugs: These position and deploy the anchors for anchored types of
Loading and Storage

• Survey vessel:
• These vessels carry and operate the sonar and ROV surveying equipment
to monitor the progress of the pipe as laid onto the seabed.
• They ensure the pipeline is laid along the correct route and check
integrity of pipeline after laying to determine if remedial work is required.

• Supply vessel:
• These vessels re-supply the lay barge with all the ancillary equipment
associated with the pipeline construction.
• This can include items required directly for the pipeline construction, like
welding material, anodes, joint coatings and items required by the crew
such as food.
S Lay Stages
• End preparation.
• Prior to welding, it is necessary to prepare
the ends of each pipejoint.
• The ends are machined to produce the
required bevel and remove defects.
S Lay Stages
• Double-jointing.
• To increase welding efficiency, some lay barges will weld two
pipe joints together at welding stations independent of those
on the firing line that produce the main pipe string. This
ability halves the number of welds required on the firing line.
• Firing line
• The firing line is the section of the vessel that runs along the
axis of the pipeline being laid.
• Along this line single or double joints are brought inline with
the main pipeline axis and then welded onto the end.
• The firing line consists of stations for welding, testing and
then field joint coating.

Mastic – Solution of coal tar and vinyl ; Vairations exist

FBE – Fushion Bonded Epoxy Coating
PU - Polyurethane
S-Lay Stages
• • Tensioning.
• The pipeline being laid then passes through
tensioners before leaving the vessel.
• The tensioners maintain the constant tension in
the laycurve to prevent unacceptable bending
• The tensioners must maintain a constant
tension and compensate for the dynamic
motion of the vessel on the water surface.
S-Lay Stages
• Laydown.
• When the pipeline has been completely laid, the
end of the pipe must be lowered to the seabed.
• It is important that the pipe end is lowered whilst
the required tension is maintained.
• The lay down process is then, in principle, the
reverse of the initiation process with the pipe
being lowered on a cable which is attached to an
abandonment and recovery winch on the vessel
Lay Down
• In deteriorating sea conditions, when it is unsuitable to
continue the laying process,the pipeline can be lowered to the
• As an example, Deep Blue abandons laying when the significant
wave height is approaching 8.5 m, to prevent fatigue due to
bouncing on the seabed, rollers and moorings.
• A laydown head is welded to the end of the pipe which is then
shackled to an A&R (Abandonment & Recovery) winch.
• The tensioner is released and the pipeline is lowered as the
vessel moves forward.
• This process is reversed to recover the pipeline. Recovery of a
pipeline end may also be required for removal of the pipeline at
the end of its service life or to conduct repairs.
Abandonement and Recovery
• When lowering or raising a pipeline to/from the seabed it is
necessary to ensure the tension is maintained in the laycurve
• To maintain this tension, a winch cable is fitted to the pipeline
end on the vessel and the pipeline is lowered to the seabed on
a winch.
• To fix the cable to the pipe end, an Abandonment and
Recovery (A&R) Head is used.
• A&R Heads usually provide some means of applying an even
internal pressure to the pipe wall as the means of attachment.
• The winch is fixed to the A&R Head by a swivel and shackle.
Abandonement and Recovery
• The figures above illustrate the ‘Ballgrab’ A&R Head
developed by BSW Limited.
• This design uses a series of spring loaded metal ball
bearings around the circumference of the section
inserted into the pipeline end.
• As illustrated in the schematic, when an axial tensile
load is applied to the installed Ballgrab, the ball
bearings are forced into the inner pipe wall.
• This allows the head to grip the pipe with sufficient
force to withstand the tensions required to lower the
Abandonement and Recovery
here are no tearing actions or stress
tion points created.
re totally dynamic and they continuously
e load. A simple disengage mechanism allows
be off-load released and recovered for re-use.
ctivated Ballgrabs are also available that allow
ead to be fitted to pipe ends located on the
d so enable recovery.
Ballgrab technology is more commonly used
elease from anchors for Tension Leg Platform
Summary of S-Lay
• S-Lay relates to the shape of the pipe laycurve during the laying
• This is maintained by tension that must be applied throughout
the operation.
• It is a continuous process, with near-horizontal welding being
carried out over several stations in the Firing Line.
• The Firing Line is the area on board the deck of the lay vessel
where the pre-weld prepped pipe lengths or double lengths are
welded, inspected and coated.
• The S-Lay method can be applied to pipes up to approx. 60” dia.
• The capacity of the tensioners governs the maximum operational
water depth (e.g. on Lorelay 300-400 tonne and 1775m max.
water depth).
Summary of S-Lay
• Control of stresses in the pipe and in the concrete
weight coat during the lay operation is by the level
of the tension applied, as well as the geometry and
adjustment of the stinger.
• S-Lay vessels are either of the anchored type or
dynamically positioned; the latter providing greater
positional control but at a greater operating cost.
• Average pipelay speeds of up to 4.5 km/day are
Lay curve control
• The installation contractor will check the
stresses in the lay curve, and from this will
determine the optimum stinger settings (these
cannot easily be adjusted once pipelay has
commenced) and the tension to apply for a
given water depth.
• The S-Lay technique will leave a higher residual
tension in the pipeline in comparison to other
pipelay techniques.
• Vessel movement due to wave loading occurs in six degrees of freedom (as
shown above).
• The vessel’s responses to these loads are known as Response Amplitude
Operators (RAO).
• Due to the length of the span of pipe and the inertia of the vessel,
movements of pipe and vessel will be out of phase.
• Commercial software packages, such as Offpipe, ANSYS ABAQUS and
OrcaFlex, are used to assess the lay stresses.
• The analysis is dynamic and incorporates the loads and movements due to
wave and current action on both the pipe and vessel.
• The programs can assist the pipeline engineer at any stage during the design
of a pipeline operation, and can even be used on-board to give fast
assessment of the effect of changing key parameters on the pipeline stress
distribution and pipeline
Next J Lay
J Lay
• J-Lay takes its name from the shape of the suspended pipe, which forms
a ‘J’ going from the surface of the vessel to the seabed.
• This curve is similar to a catenary and develops low stress levels in the
pipe compared with S-Lay.
• The main limitation of J-Lay is that in most cases it only has a single work
station in which to assemble the pipe, (the exception being on the S7000
laybarge which has two).
• Consequently, most J-Lay systems make use of pre-assembled strings of
4 to 6 pipes.
• The additional time spent making a joint at a single work station is
compensated for to some extent by attaching 4 to 6 pipe joints rather
than just one pipe joint.
• Needs deeper water than S-Lay.
J-Lay vessel
• The majority of J-Lay systems have been fitted to semi-submersible
crane vessels (SSCV’s) such as the S-7000 (shown above), the Hermod,
Balder and the DB50.
• As these vessels also have other tasks to undertake, the systems are
modular and thus can be removed when not required.
• The J-Lay tower on S-7000 weighs 4500 tonnes.
• The systems have been designed to accommodate the future
requirements for ultradeep water pipelines, with the S-7000 system
designed specifically to install the Blue Stream pipeline, although up-
rating of each system is envisaged.
• Using an SSCV has the advantage that if the field is distant from an
offshore base, the vessel can perform any heavy lift that is required and
lay the flowlines for a field development.
• The two main components of the J-Lay system
• the pipe handling system and Jlay tower.
J Lay sequence
• As pipe stalks of three or more joints are
delivered to the vessel, a more complex
handling system is required to lift these stalks
from the horizontal into the J-Lay tower than
is required for S-Lay.
• Once in the tower the pipe-stalk is aligned
with, and then welded to the pipe string.
• In most cases, the weld, NDT and coating
application are all performed at the one station.
• Most pipelines laid by J-Lay are NOT concrete-
• In deepwater, stability is less of a concern,
therefore the extra weight is not usually required.
• The clamps holding the pipe are released, the
vessel moves forward and the joint passes down
the tower to receive the next spool.
The general operations that make-up the
overall J-lay sequence are shown above.
Quad or Hex joints are made-up onshore to
limit the welding time required offshore.
Reel Lay