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Advanced Engineering Critical Assessments of Seam Weld Features in Pressure Cycled Hazardous Liquid Pipelines

[+] Author Affiliations
Kevin Spencer, Hong Lu

PII Pipeline Solutions Business of GE Oil & Gas, Calgary, AB, Canada

Wilson Santamaria

ExxonMobil, Hythe, England

Jane Dawson

PII Pipeline Solutions Business of GE Oil & Gas, Cramlington, Northumberland, UK

Paper No. IPC2008-64312, pp. 471-479; 9 pages
  • 2008 7th International Pipeline Conference
  • 2008 7th International Pipeline Conference, Volume 2
  • Calgary, Alberta, Canada, September 29–October 3, 2008
  • Conference Sponsors: International Petroleum Technology Institute and the Pipeline Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4858-6 | eISBN: 798-0-7918-3835-8
  • Copyright © 2008 by ASME


The performance of older ERW pipelines has raised concerns regarding their ability to reliably transport product to market. Low toughness or “dirty” steels combined with time dependent threats such as surface breaking defects, selective corrosion and hook cracks are especially of concern in hazardous liquid pipelines that are inevitably subject to cyclic loading, increasing both the probability and rate of crack growth. The existing methods of evaluating seam weld flaws by hydrostatically testing the pipeline or In-Line Inspection (ILI) with an appropriate technology are well established. Hydrostatic testing, whilst providing a quantified level of safety is often impracticable due to associated costs, logistics and the possibility of multiple failures during the test. ILI technologies have become more sophisticated and as a result can accurately detect and size both critical and sub-critical flaws within the pipeline. However, the vast amounts of data generated can often be daunting for a pipeline operator especially when tool tolerances and future growth are required to be accounted for. For either method, extensive knowledge of the benefits and disadvantages are required to assess which is the more appropriate for a particular pipeline segment. This paper will describe advances in the interpretation of seam weld flaws detected by ILI and how they can be applied to an Integrity Management Plan. Signal processing improvements, validated by in-field verifications have enabled detailed profiles of surface breaking defects at seam welds for ERW pipelines to be determined. Using these profiles along with established fracture and fatigue analysis methods allows for reductions in the unnecessary conservatism previously associated with the assessment of seam weld flaws detected by ILI. Combining these results with other available data, e.g. dig verifications, previous hydrostatic testing records, enables more realistic and better-informed integrity and maintenance planning decisions to be made. A real case study conducted in association with a pipeline operator is detailed in the paper and quantifies the benefits that can be realised by using these advanced assessment techniques, to safely and economically manage their assets going forward.

Copyright © 2008 by ASME
Topics: Pressure , Pipelines



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