The Engineering Challenges Of Subsea Pipelines

94 views 1:53 pm 0 Comments August 9, 2023

There is a veritable wealth of minerals locked away under the ocean and due to a high level of demand there is a race to unlock them. Two of the most sought after resources under the sea floor are natural gas and oil. In order to extract these resources, a lot of technology is required. One of the most complex aspects of this extraction is moving the gas or oil out of the ground and onto the shore. The ocean is a rough, wild place and there are many engineering challenges which must be overcome in order to pull off this amazing feat.

The article below is designed to give you some insight into the challenges faced by engineering companies which specialise in sub-sea pipelines. With this increased understanding of the process it is hope you can come to respect the skills required to pull of these engineering masterpieces!


Working under the water means a constant battle with pressure. You may have even experienced underwater pressure yourself – if you have gone down into a deep pool and felt pressure in your head, that’s just a small taste! For roughly every ten metres you go down under water the pressure on humans and machines increases by one level. In the deepest parts of the ocean, this pressure is enough to crush metal machinery, so it is definitely a force to be reckoned with.

Dealing with pressure us a key challenge of laying subsea pipelines. The deeper the resources that need to be extracted are, the more difficult it becomes for engineers to compensate. Despite these difficulties, pressure is just one of the challenges faced when constructing subsea pipelines.

Remote Locations

Unfortunately for mining companies, precious natural resources are rarely located in convenient locations. This presents a unique challenge in how to extract them and bring them to market. It is the job of pipeline engineers to install the infrastructure that is required to get the resources out.

Remote locations present unique logistical problems for industrial construction. It takes the expertise of well trained and experienced construction crews and engineers to complete major subsea pipeline construction under such conditions.

Extreme Weather

The ocean more than any other area on earth is prone to violent weather, which can change unexpectedly. These extreme weather conditions make the laying of subsea pipe a complicated affair. For certain phases of construction, there is a need for relatively calm seas.

Reliance on the unreliable weather can lead to unavoidable construction delays, which is something that all experienced contractors will have factored into their quotes and timeline.


Salt water is highly corrosive and most industrial pipes and machinery are made from metal. This means that there needs to be strategies in place to avoid the degradation of the pipeline. Any faults in a subsea pipeline can have disastrous environmental consequences and cost millions of dollars to fix. It is the job of the construction crews and engineers to ensure that there are a number of protective measures against corrosion built into the pipeline system. Failing to do so would irrevocably damage their reputation.

These are just a few factors that come into the planning and construction of subsea pipelines. For a more detailed breakdown, contact a skilled contractor today.