Numerical Study on the Migration of Leaked Oil in Submarine Sediment Caused by Pipeline Leakage Using Two-phase Flow Model

Xiaoli Liu, Shouming Liu, Tianyuan Zheng, Chongqiang Zhu, Dong-Sheng Jeng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Oil leakage from submarine pipelines can cause severe environmental problems and economic losses. In this study, a two-phase immiscible flow model in porous media is proposed to simulate the migration of leaked oil caused by the leakage of a buried submarine pipeline in sandy sediment. The relationship between saturation, pore pressure, and relative permeability of different fluids in porous media is considered in present model, which is distinguished from previous studies. The spilled oil spreads radially from the leakage point into surrounding sediment driven by the leakage velocity. Moreover, it continues to migrate in sediment under the capillary pressure and gravity. Interestingly, the effect of wave-induced transient response on the ultimate migration of spilled oil in a sandy sediment is negligible. However, increasing sediment porosity can greatly enhance the upward migration of leaked oil based on systematically parametric analysis. Meanwhile, the migration rate of leaked oil decreases with increasing oil density or viscosity. The oil-contaminated area significantly expands with the increase of leakage rate. Fitting formulas between dimensionless time required for the leaked oil to reach the overlying seawater and non-dimensional influencing parameters are well established, which can provide useful guidelines for similar disasters.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41-56
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Marine Environmental Engineering
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • oil leakage
  • sediment
  • spilled oil migration
  • submarine buried pipeline
  • two-phase flow

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Ocean Engineering
  • Pollution


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