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Proceedings of the 2012 9th International Pipeline Conference IPC2012 September 24-28, 2012, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

IPC2012-90629

DEVELOPING A PREDICTIVE MODEL OF NEAR NEUTRAL pH STRESS CORROSION CRACKING OF UNDERGROUND PIPELINES
Brett Conrad University of Alberta Edmonton, Alberta, Canada Dr. Reg Eadie University of Alberta Edmonton, Alberta, Canada Dr. Weixing Chen University of Alberta Edmonton, Alberta, Canada Greg Van Boven Spectra Energy Limited Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Richard Kania TransCanada Pipelines Limited Calgary, Alberta, Canada Robert Worthingham TransCanada Pipelines Limited Calgary, Alberta, Canada

ABSTRACT Near neutral pH Stress Corrosion Cracking (NNpHSCC) associated with external corrosion of pipelines is an issue facing industry today. Determining areas of NNpHSCC susceptibility is crucial to developing Integrity Management Programs and inspection dig schedules. This research involved collecting pertinent field data (inspection dig reports, failure reports, loading histories) and developing a predictive model to help identify areas and lines most susceptible to NNpHSCC. The predictive model focused on the loading history (in this case, SCADA data) patterns to classify different groups of loading conditions. Hydrogen has been identified and established in previous literature to be a major contributor to NNpHSCC. Different Hydrogen Enhancement Factors (HEF) were applied based on how the mechanisms of hydrogen embrittlement react to the respective loading conditions. The predictive model illustrated a dormancy behaviour, similar to the one seen in field conditions and a mechanically activated growth dependent on both hydrogen and previous loading scenarios. A correlation was shown between a limited field sampling and the predicted values. Further improvements and calibrations can be made with the gathering of more field data and continued experimental validation. Once this validation has been

performed, this model has the possibility to illustrate what loading conditions increase a segments susceptibility to NNpHSCC. INTRODUCTION Pipelines are critical components to North Americas oil and gas industry. There are currently thousands of kilometers of underground pipeline, making the effective integrity management of these assets both time-consuming and expensive. In order to compensate for the lack of information, it becomes imperative that the transmission companies use the available data effectively. One of the integrity issues with these gas lines is the occurrence of external Stress Corrosion Cracking. The development of a predictive model for NNpHSCC would help the transmission companies utilize the current data available to them as well as identify data that may be beneficial to acquire with the funds allocated for integrity management programs. BACKGROUND Although High-pH SCC has been identified and analyzed since the 1960s, NNpHSCC is a relatively new cracking mechanism, first identified by TCPL in the mid 1980s (1), but there were

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observed cases of NNpHSCC in the late 1970s which were at that time classified as High-pH SCC. While the High pH mechanism has been fairly well understood, the Near Neutral pH behavior is still somewhat in debate. There have been attempts in the past to develop predictive models, especially with the crack initiation and early growth stages of NNpHSCC(2). The issue of NNpHSCC crack initiation has been very controversial and is still not well understood(3). One of the major issues mentioned when considering this stage of early crack growth for NNpHSCC is crack dormancy. Dormancy occurs when corrosion pits, which as stress risers on the pipe surface, only grow to a relatively shallow depth (i.e. <10% wall thickness)(1) and do not develop into active cracks. The majority of the pits that exist on these lines become dormant and are not serious threats to the overall integrity of the asset. Pits are important to the initiation of these cracks because they act as stress raisers. The key consideration when looking at this phenomenon is to determine what loading and environmental conditions will lead to the initiation and activation of these cracks. The loading conditions required to create cracks from pits may not technically fall under the traditional definition of SCC, which requires a constant load. Laboratory studies involving the initiation of SCC often require a cyclic stress to generate cracks(3). When discussing pipeline SCC specifically, the importance of cyclic loading has been identified and understood. Although the natural gas transmission lines have relatively constant loading, there are slight variations due to the nature of the compressors as well as other factors such as changes in amount of gas being transported. The cyclic stresses develop plastic zones in the stress concentration areas of the corrosion pits. This plastic zone creates compressive stresses within the material during the unloading portion of the fatigue cycle. The combination of tensile external loading and compressive residual stresses in the material provides a circumstance in which hydrogen, and in turn the external environment, can assist in the crack re-activation. Hydrogen embrittlement in relation to SCC has proven to be a detrimental phenomenon to the integrity of underground pipelines(3; 4; 5; 6). While the loading conditions along the pipeline do not vary significantly, the differences in the severity of SCC can. This disparity may be attributed to the differences in the environmental conditions. These conditions may include external coating condition, drainage, cathodic protection, and soil and groundwater composition. Although it has been noted that it appears High pH SCC has temperature dependence, this

does not seem to be the case with NNpHSCC(4)(7). This could be due to the fact that carbon dioxide (CO2) plays a major role through its reaction with water and creating carbonic acid, which has been proven to be an active part of this mechanism. MODEL APPROACH This predictive model utilizes both the SCADA data (loading history) as well as the associated inspection dig reports containing not only crack dimensions, but also some of the environmental conditions mentioned above. This approach applies to areas of the pipe surface where the integrity of the coating has failed (e.g. disbondment / holidays). After initial conditions (such as assumed initial crack/pit depth, material properties, and other constants that will be used in the equations) are input, the model looks at the loading history supplied by the hourly SCADA data. The loading profile has some noise associated with it minor fluctuations that can be considered to be a region of constant stress. In order to deal with this noise, a function is run which only recognizes a relative maxima and minima if the pressure increases or decreases by at least a specified threshold amount. The outputs of this sorting function identify the amplitude and location of the resulting maxima and minima. This output will be used as reference points along with the original loading profile (see Figure 1). As was previously mentioned, the loading history will affect the residual stress states that exist at the crack or pit tip. It has been shown that the residual stress inherent in a material has a strong correlation to its SCC susceptibility(3). The residual stress (i.e. plastic zone) may determine what kind of effect hydrogen will have, and therefore how detrimental a specific loading cycle may be. With this in mind, the first aspect of the model involves a decision tree which identifies and classifies the loading history. Depending on how the history is classified, the crack growth contribution of the next cycle will be handled differently. The loading history is analyzed considering two competing mechanisms: hydrogen embrittlement and creep. Hydrogen is an extremely mobile atom and can enter the crack tip region under tensile loading when the bonds between the atoms are stretched. This provides an opportunity for the hydrogen to adversely affect the crack tip and facilitate more growth. During unloading, the compressive stress present in the plastic zone pushes the hydrogen back out of the crack tip region. The rate at which the hydrogen is removed from the crack tip is dependent

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on the amount of stress reduction and in turn, the amount of compressive stress produced in the plastic zone. The larger the unloading, the more hydrogen is removed from the crack tip, reducing the overall effect of hydrogen embrittlement. Low temperature creep is another on-going mechanism which affects the crack contribution of the various loading cycles. If a stress is held relatively constant, there may be some creep occurring which would allow some dislocation motion. This dislocation motion could blunt the crack tip, decreasing the effective stress concentration and therefore the potential crack growth contribution. The model`s decision tree will lead to several different results. The crack contribution of a single cycle will be calculated using Linear Elastic Fracture Mechanics (LEFM) fundamentals. Elastic-plastic fracture mechanics was not considered due to the fact that the wall thickness of the pipe does not allow for significant plastic deformation (3). The rate equation that will be applied is taken from work previously done by Chen and Sutherby(8), and is shown in the general form shown below.

Once the areas have been compared, the corresponding HEF is applied based on the HEF Determination Table (see Table 1). For example, if the area under the curve is between 60 and 70% of the reference area, then an HEF of 1.10 based on this Table. The assigned HEF values and bin limits were arbitrarily chosen, with the reasoning that an if the stress stayed relatively high in between cycles, the hydrogen would not be pushed out of the crack tip region. The values themselves were picked as an initial starting point and require further calibration. This calibration would involve identifying what soil conditions, drainage, and other environmental conditions allow hydrogen into the surface. Once this information has been determined and experiments have been completed to verify these conditions, the HEF can be fine tuned to match field conditions. The entire decision tree can be seen in Figure 3. The stress cycles are analyzed and their crack growth contribution is determined based on the loading patterns between the previous loading stress peak and the current maximum stress. From these comparisons, a HEF is applied if necessary and the respective crack growth contribution is added to the total crack growth. If the crack size is very small, fracture mechanics does not dictate the crack or pit growth; instead, the growth is due to the dissolution of the crack tip. As the crack or pit grows, a geometric constraint is developed within the crack which limits the supply of active species into the crack tip, effectively slowing down the dissolution rate in the depth direction. The active species in the dissolution process can only reach a certain depth, and therefore acts in a lateral direction. This action could explain why the majority of pits grow dormant. The field data correlating the length of the crack with the depth (also known as the aspect ratio) was used to fit an equation. This equation is used in the model to determine not only the aspect ratio for the geometric factor built into the LEFM equations, but also the crack growth due to dissolution at the early stages of pit development. The fracture mechanics contribution will only dominate if the appropriate hydrogen environment is supplied; representing the scenario in which the SCC cracks grow into the material. MODEL RESULTS The model was run with varying initial crack depths, and varying material properties which correspond to the respective sets of SCADA data. Initial runs of this model showed an

(Eqn. 1)
Where: a is the crack depth; N is the amount of cycles; K is the change in stress intensity factor; Kmax is the maximum stress intensity factor; f is the frequency of the cycle; and is a material/environmental constant

This rate equation will be applied to the loading cycles, either unadjusted or scaled by a Hydrogen Enhancement Factor (HEF). This HEF is applied to attempt to quantify the effect of Hydrogen Embrittlement on the crack tip due to the relative compressive stresses generated by the rate of unloading. If there is a rapid unloading to a relatively low stress, hydrogen will diffuse away from the crack tip, decreasing the amount of crack growth generated by the next loading cycle. If the unloading is sufficiently rapid to a low stress, the crack growth generated would effectively be zero. In an attempt to capture this mechanism, the HEF is determined based on the comparison of the area under the curve to the shaded box shown in Figure 2. This shaded box was taken as a reference for comparison and had a height equal to the change in stress of the current loading cycle and a length correlating to the time between loading cycles.

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inflection point which illustrated the transition between a dissolution driven growth mechanism and a mechanically driven growth mechanism. This inflection point may occur at different crack depths, depending on varying environmental factors. Further experimental work focusing on the physical transport of the active dissolution species into geometric constraints will need to be performed in order determine the crack depth at which this transition occurs for different situations. The results from a typical initial run are shown in Figure 4. The above figure assumed an initial crack depth of 1 mm with an initial wall thickness of 9.91 mm. When the assumed HEF are increased as shown in Table 2, the following crack growth change is shown below in Figure 5. As it can be seen above, the model is fairly sensitive to the HEF. With further calibration and the determination of the HEF with varying soil conditions the model can be fine-tuned to match field conditions. The overall impact of this model will be determined based on future work with both field data correlation and experimental verification, as previously discussed. As the calibration and verification are completed, the model could possibly provide information regarding remaining life of existing cracks based on expected operating pressure spectra, or what might consequently happen to the remaining life if the pressure spectra are changed. When the predicted crack values were compared to field data provided, there was a slight correlation between the severity that certain segments experience and the severity predicted by the model, due to multiple pieces of information which must be weighted to determine a segments susceptibility. In order to increase the correlation with field data, further research should be done involving the HEF and the various environmental conditions. The field data correlation is shown in Table 3. In this table, a lower numbered ranking means a higher severity of SCC on that particular line. Segments A, B, and C were located on the same line at different areas and segments D and E were from a different line. In order to accurately validate the model, a larger loading history may be required. It can be seen from the predicted data that with a higher initial crack length, the crack growth is less. This is due to the dormancy effect demonstrated by the model, where the dissolution mechanism slows down, but before the mechanically driven mechanism begins to take over.

The field ranking was determined by looking at both the most severe crack depth as well as the number of cracks that had grown beyond the dormancy stage. CONCLUSIONS Several conclusions that can be made from the predictive model work: 1. The initial runs of this model taking into account loading histories illustrates regions in which crack growth is dominated by two separate mechanisms: a. Dissolution mechanism; and b. Mechanically driven mechanism. 2. The runs of this model demonstrate a crack dormancy effect seen in the field; and 3. This model is sensitive to a Hydrogen Enhancement Factor, which requires further experimental study and field correlation to accurate calibrate the models results.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS This work is financially supported by TransCanada Pipelines Limited (TCPL) and Spectra Energy Limited. The authors greatly acknowledge the contributions of these companies. NOMENCLATURE HEF Hydrogen Enhancement Factor NNpHSCC Near-neutral pH Stress Corrosion Cracking SCC Stress Corrosion Cracking REFERENCES 1. Delanty, B and O'Beirne, J. Major Field Study Compares Pipeline SCC with Coatings. Oil & Gas Journal. June 15, 1992, Vol. 90, 24, pp. 39-44. 2. King, F., et al. Development of a Predictive Model for the Initiation and Early Stage Growth of Near-Neutral pH SCC of Pipelines. Corrosion. 2011. 3. NACE International. External Stress Corrosion Cracking of Underground Pipelines. Calgary, AB : NACE International, October 2003. NACE International Publiction 35103. 4. Parkins, R.N., Blanchard, W.K. and Delanty, B.S. Transgranular Stress Corrosion Cracking of High Pressure Pipelines in Contact with Solutions of Near Neutral pH. Corrosion. 1994, Vol. 50, 5, pp. 394-408.

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5. Chen, W., et al. Transgranular crack growth in pipeline steels exposed to near-neutral pH soil aqueous solutions: The role of hydrogen. Acta Materialia. 2009, Vol. 57. 6. National Energy Board. Stress Corrosion Cracking on Canadian Oil and Gas Pipelines. Calgary, AB : National Energy Board, 1996. 7. Fessler, R.R. Stress Corrosion Cracking Temperature Effects. s.l. : Batelle's Columbus Laboratories, 1979. 8. Chen, W. and R., Sutherby. Crack growth behaviour of pipeline steel in Near-Neutral pH Soil Conditions. Metallurgical and Material Transactions A. 2007, Vol. 38A.

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APPENDIX A FIGURES

6250

6200

6150

Pressure (kPa)

6100

6050

6000

5950

5900

5850

10

20

30

40

50 Time (Hours)

60

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100

6250

6200

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6100
Pressure (kPa)

6050

6000

5950

5900

5850

10

20

30

40

50 Time (Hours)

60

70

80

90

100

Figure 1 -- Traditional maxima / minima references (top) vs. sensitized maxima / minima references (bottom)

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Figure 2 -- The area under the highlighted curve is compared to the area of the shaded area to determine the HEF.

Figure 3 -- Model decision tree

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12

10

Crack Depth (%WT)

Dissolution + Mechanic Contribution Dissolution Growth Only

10 Time (Years)

15

20

Figure 4 -- Predicted crack growth comparing dissolution contribution only as well as combined dissolution and mechanics contribution

Figure 5 -- Sensitivity of Model to HEF

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APPENDIX B TABLES
Table 1-- HEF Determination

Condition

HEF 1.05 1.10 1.15 1.20 1.25

Table 2 -- Increase of HEF for sensitivity analysis

Reference HEF 1.05 1.1 1.15 1.2 1.25


Table 3 -- Preliminary Correlation to Field Data

Artificially Increased HEF 1.25 1.50 1.75 2.00 2.25

Predicted Total Growth (mm) Section A B C D E Time (Years) 5.37 5.37 5.37 5.37 5.37 a0 = 0.1mm 0.7170 0.7047 0.6981 0.6632 0.6635 a0 = 1mm 0.2524 0.2045 0.1574 0.0008 0.0006 Predicted Order 1 2 3 4 5 Predicted Ranking A A A B B Field Ranking 1 1 1 2 2

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