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Differences in Near-Neutral pH Crack Growth Behavior Between Oil Pipelines and Gas Pipelines and Corresponding Crack Growth Mitigation Strategies

[+] Author Affiliations
Zhezhu Xu, Weixing Chen

University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada

Andrea Daniel

Enbridge Pipelines, Ltd., Edmonton, AB, Canada

Karina Chevil, Erwin Gamboa

TransCanada Pipeline, Ltd., Calgary, AB, Canada

Paper No. IPC2018-78392, pp. V001T03A063; 9 pages
  • 2018 12th International Pipeline Conference
  • Volume 1: Pipeline and Facilities Integrity
  • Calgary, Alberta, Canada, September 24–28, 2018
  • Conference Sponsors: Pipeline Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-5186-9
  • Copyright © 2018 by ASME


Oil pipelines and gas pipelines operations result in very different pressure fluctuation schemes due to different compressive properties of liquids and gases. Liquid fluids such as oil are less compressible and pressure fluctuations during oil pipelines operations are more frequent and vary over a wide range of magnitudes and frequencies, compared with those during gas pipelines operations. Despite the differences in operating conditions indicated above, both oil pipelines and gas pipelines are susceptible to stress corrosion cracking and corrosion fatigue failures. This investigation was initiated to understand the different crack growth rate behavior of pipeline steels characteristic to the type of pressure fluctuation schemes in near-neutral pH environment, that is, oil pipelines vs. gas pipelines. It was suspected that the similar range of service life between oil pipeline steels and gas pipeline steels could be attributed to a higher rate of direct dissolution at the tip of a crack during gas pipeline operation because of much higher mean pressures, despite their lower crack growth caused by corrosion fatigue. In the case of near-neutral pH stress corrosion cracking, corrosion makes minor contribution to crack growth but produces diffusible hydrogen that interacts with cyclic loading to make cracks grow. This study was performed using specimens with surface cracks, which simulated the following two environmental conditions: 1) fully exposed to the environment, 2) shielded from the environment, exposed to hydrogen only. In Case 1), the specimen surface, on which the surface cracks were made, was fully exposed to a near-neutral pH solution, allowing the occurrence of corrosion at the crack tip. In Case 2), a narrow strip of a coating was applied to prevent the cracks from direct contact with the corrosive solution; however, the cracks were affected by diffusible hydrogen which had been generated as a by-product of corrosion on the adjacent steel surface free of coatings. These specimens were mechanically loaded under different pressure schemes typical of both oil and gas pipeline operations. It has been found that crack growth caused by direct dissolution of crack tip materials is insignificant, regardless of pipeline operating conditions. A much higher crack growth rate, attributed to hydrogen embrittlement, was found under gas transmission conditions, while a higher corrosion fatigue crack growth was found under oil transmission conditions. Based on these findings, strategies on crack growth mitigation, characteristic to each type of pipeline operation are also proposed.

Copyright © 2018 by ASME



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