Fracture Control for the Alliance Pipeline PUBLIC ACCESS

[+] Author Affiliations
Bob Eiber

Robert J. Eiber, Consultant Inc.

Lorne Carlson

Alliance Pipeline Ltd.

Brian Leis


Paper No. IPC2000-133, pp. V001T02A023; 11 pages
  • 2000 3rd International Pipeline Conference
  • Volume 1: Codes, Standards and Regulations; Design and Constructions; Environmental; GIS/Database Development; Innovative Projects and Emerging Issues
  • Calgary, Alberta, Canada, October 1–5, 2000
  • Conference Sponsors: Pipeline Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4024-5
  • Copyright © 2000 by ASME


This paper reviews the fracture control plan for the Alliance Pipeline, which is planned for operation in 2000. This natural-gas pipeline is 2627 km (1858 miles) long, running from British Columbia, Canada to Illinois, USA.

Interest in the fracture control for this pipeline results from its design, which is based on transporting a rich natural gas (up to 15% ethane, 3% propane) at a relatively high pressure 12,000 kPa (1740 psi). This break from traditional pressures and lean gases, which frequently are constrained by incremental expansion, is more efficient and more economical than previous natural gas pipelines. Use of higher pressures and rich gas requires adequate fracture control for the line pipe, fittings, and valves. This fracture control has been achieved for the Alliance Pipeline by specifying high-toughness steels, in terms of both fracture-initiation and fracture-propagation resistance for the line pipe, fittings and heavy wall components.

While beneficial from an economics viewpoint, the need for higher toughnesses raised concern over the validity of the fracture control plan, which was based on existing and new technology. The concern focused on fracture arrest using high toughness steels. The concern was associated with characterizing fracture arrest resistance using Charpy V-notch impact toughness, the most commonly used method to measure fracture arrest resistance. Developments were undertaken to address problems associated with the use of higher-toughness steel and these were validated with full-scale pipe burst tests to demonstrate the viability of the fracture control plan.

The solution involved extending existing methods to address much higher toughness steels, which provided a significantly improved correlation between fracture arrest predictions and experimental results. In the burst tests, data was collected to validate the Alliance design and also to extend the database of fracture arrest data to assist future pipelines. Data such as the pressure between the pipe and soil as the gas escapes from the pipe, the sound levels in the atmosphere, the movement and strains in the pipe ahead of the running fracture were instrumented in the test and the available results are presented.

Copyright © 2000 by ASME
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