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

IPC2012-90043

HYDROGEN ASSISTED CRACKING FAILURES OF GIRTH WELDS IN OIL AND GAS PIPELINES

W. E. Amend Det Norske Veritas (U.S.A.), Inc. 3475 Condor Ridge Road Yorba Linda, CA 92886-6971 USA Cell: (714) 350-1838 Fax: (714) 777-7875 Bill.Amend@dnv.com

G. T. Quickel, W. A. Bruce, and J. A. Beavers Det Norske Veritas (U.S.A), Inc. 5777 Frantz Road Dublin, OH 43017-1886 USA Phone: (614) 761-1214 Fax: (614) 761-1633 Greg.Quickel@dnv.com or Bill.Bruce@dnv.com

ABSTRACT There are more than 2.5 million miles of oil and gas pipelines in the United States, totaling over 330 million girth welds below ground. During construction, girth welds are susceptible to the formation of various defects, one of which is hydrogen-assisted cracks. The synergistic impact of tensile stress, a susceptible microstructure, and atomic hydrogen can lead to hydrogen embrittlement and the formation of hydrogen cracks. This paper reviews hydrogen cracking of girth welds in carbon steel pipelines made during new construction and provides examples involving hydrogen cracking in which failure analysis techniques were used to establish the metallurgical cause of failure. INTRODUCTION TO HYDROGEN CRACKING Cellulosic-coated shielded metal arc welding (SMAW) electrodes (AWS EXX10-type) continue to be widely used for pipeline construction. The examples that will be described here illustrate that hydrogen cracking in welds made with cellulosiccoated electrodes can occur when specific combinations of weld stress and weld microstructure are present. A susceptible microstructure (e.g., martensite) can be formed by various combinations of weld cooling rate and pipe material carbon equivalent (CE). As CE increases, a slower weld cooling rate is required to prevent the formation of crack-susceptible microstructures. The presence of an acceptable microstructure is typically detected by comparing a measured hardness to a threshold hardness that relates to steel composition and the amount of

hydrogen present in the weld. For welds made with cellulosiccoated electrodes, the amount of hydrogen in a weld is large and the acceptable hardness is correspondingly lower than if a low hydrogen welding process is used. Since the root pass is often deposited with relatively low heat input and is often made without benefit of preheat, the cooling rate for the root pass tends to be high. As a result, crack-susceptible microstructures are more likely to form. The thin ligament of root pass weld metal and the adjacent heat affected zone (HAZ) is susceptible to cracking when relatively small loads are applied 1) by inadvertent displacement of the joint, or 2) when highly restrained joints are prevented from moving to accommodate weld metal shrinkage, or 3) as a result of geometric irregularities such as misalignment that locally increase the local stress level at the root. Therefore, even though the HAZ of the cap pass is often harder than the HAZ of a root pass in a completed weld, hydrogen cracks often occur in the root area before a weld is even completed because of the higher stresses and initially higher HAZ hardness that can be present at the root. As we will illustrate, the hardness surrounding a crack is one means of determining the likelihood that the cracking occurred during the welding versus shortly after the weld was completed. The stage of welding during which cracking occurs can help determine what type of mitigation is most likely to be successful, for example better control of line-up clamp movement versus better control of weld cooling rate.

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FAILURE ANALYSES Eight failure analyses performed by DNV were reviewed and some of the images have been provided herein. The intent of the paper is to show the similar characteristics observed when analyzing weld hydrogen cracks and detail the steps taken to identify the mechanism. Pipe Sections 1 4 involved modern vintage line pipe materials where cracks were identified prior to service and Pipe Sections 5 - 8 involved older vintage materials where cracks were identified while in-service. The pipelines were in, or intended to be used in, crude oil or natural gas transmission service. The grade, manufacturers, dimensions, vintage, etc. of the pipelines varied. Visual Examination and Radiography Figure 1 is a photograph of a typical pipe section (Pipe Section 5), which contains portions of two pipe joints and a girth weld. The pipe section leaked at the girth weld where hydrogen cracks were present. The leak was located from the 9 to 12 oclock orientation and additional hydrogen cracks were identified from the 9 to 3 oclock orientation. These cracks tend to be located at the top or bottom of the pipe, but can be located at various oclock orientations. Upon receipt of a pipe, the location of the feature in question is either 1) marked on the pipe section, 2), described by the client as a distance from the top of the pipe, or 3) determined from a radiograph (or some other non-destructive examination [NDE] procedure). Figure 2 is a photograph of a radiograph of the girth weld in Pipe Section 1. The radiograph shows evidence of a crack-like feature. Examination of the radiograph shows that the feature is not located at the weld center line and suggests it is located at the edge of the weld root. The 0 and 5 on the radiograph indicate the distance (in inches) from top dead center. The radiograph was used to determine the location of the crack in Pipe Section 1 by use of the 0 and 5 and identification of the top button and location/orientation of the weld ripples. Magnetic Particle Inspection After the feature location is identified, the location is confirmed using magnetic particle inspection (MPI). Figure 3 is a photograph of the external pipe surface of Pipe Section 4 following MPI. The figure shows a crack-like indication located at the center of the weld. The figure also shows that the indication is located at a weld button (i.e., the convergence of two weld passes deposited in opposite directions), which in this case, is the bottom button. Through-wall hydrogen cracks typically initiate at the weld root and propagate through the weld cap. MPI is also performed on the internal pipe surface when the feature is not outside diameter (OD) surface breaking or to determine the extent of cracking. Figures 4 and 5 are photographs from Pipe Section 4 and 3, respectively, showing indications located at the weld root. The indication from Pipe Section 4 was located at the bottom of the pipe and was approximately 3.5 inches in length. The indication from Pipe

Section 3 was located at the top of the pipe and was approximately 5.5 inches in length. Optical Fractography The next step is to either 1) break open a portion of the pipe that contains the indication or 2) remove a cross-section from the pipe to determine the depth if the indication is not through-wall. Option 2 would be performed in order to determine the depth required for a backcut, which helps in breaking open fracture surfaces. Figure 6 and 7 are photographs from Pipe Section 3 and 4, respectively, showing photographs of the fracture surfaces. The pipe samples that contained the indications were placed in liquid nitrogen and hit with a hammer to reveal the fracture surfaces. The inside diameter (ID) surface breaking regions with a brown and orange appearance (Region 1) are the pre-existing cracks and the grey regions with a shiny appearance (Region 2) are the overload regions that occurred while breaking open the samples. The crack surface in Figure 6 has a layered appearance consisting of dark brown at the ID surface, then transitioning to dark orange, and then light brown as the crack surface approaches the OD. The discolored portion of the fracture in Figure 7 has a more consistent orange color. Since fracture surface coloration can be indicative of the relative extent of oxidation, it is possible that the distinct transitions of colors on the fracture surface of Pipe Section 3 indicate cracking that occurred progressively, while the cracking in Pipe Section 4 may have occurred in one stage. The depth of the cracks shown in both figures is relatively constant and their shape is semi-elliptical. It is common for a hydrogen crack to have a constant depth with shallow endpoints; the shallow crack on the right side of the fracture surface (Pipe Section 4) is an example (Figure 7). These shallow cracks can extend for many inches and their depth can vary. Less frequently, hydrogen cracks are shallow with varying depths that do not have a semi-elliptical appearance. Scanning Electron Microscopy The scanning electron microscope is used to 1) determine the morphology of the crack and 2) determine if there is any evidence of in-service growth. Unfortunately, the fractographic features of hydrogen cracks vary throughout the wall thickness and vary from sample to sample. Therefore, the importance of determining the morphology of the hydrogen crack is low but determining if the crack grew in service is high. In-service growth mechanisms that have been identified are ductile fracture, characterized by dimples, and fatigue crack growth, characterized by beachmarks and striations (observed in Pipe Section 5 below). Figure 8 and 9 are SEM images (Pipe Section 3) showing the fracture surface near the internal and external pipe surfaces, respectively. The crack surface shown in Figure 8 appears to be quasi-cleavage, which is consistent with transgranular cracking. Transgranular cracking is more commonly seen in hydrogen cracking of girth welds in line pipe steels but intergranular

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cracking also has been observed. The morphology of the crack surface in Figure 9 is also commonly seen and is relatively non-descript. The fracture surfaces in both figures vary greatly from location to location. The variations can be attributed to the different weld passes/microstructures. Metallographic Examination The most important technique for determining if a crack is a hydrogen crack is metallography. This technique helps clearly identify the crack location and weld morphology (evidence of high low misalignment, undercut, slag inclusions, etc.); this tool also helps to determine in-service growth. It is important to realize that a metallographic cross-section may not be exactly at the location of crack initiation. This needs to be taken into account when examining metallographic cross-sections that contain hydrogen cracks. Figures 10, 11, and 12 are light photomicrographs of mounted cross-sections removed from Pipe Sections 1, 3, and 4, respectively. All three cross-sections contain hydrogen cracks that initiated at the toe of the weld root and all have high-low misalignment (the greatest misalignment being in Pipe Section 1). The crack in Figure 10 initiated at the toe of the weld root in the heat-affected zone (HAZ) and propagated through the weld metal. Hydrogen cracks most commonly initiate in the HAZ of the weld root pass. They likely initiate in the HAZ because the CE of the pipe material is typically greater than that of the weld. Figure 11 shows that the hydrogen crack was entirely located in the weld metal. Chemical composition analysis of the weld from Pipe Section 3 showed that it had a relatively high CE (higher than the base metal). CE is an indicator of hardenability, or the propensity for cracksusceptible weld microstructures to develop. The crack in Figure 12 was located at the toe of the weld root and propagated through the weld metal. Figure 13 is a higher magnification light photomicrograph near the weld root of Pipe Section 4. The figure shows that the crack is located in the HAZ. Figure 14 is a light photomicrograph showing secondary cracks in the weld metal adjacent to the primary crack in the HAZ. The morphology of the cracks is consistent with weld metal hydrogen cracking. These cracks are commonly found next to primary hydrogen cracks and commonly found in the HAZ. They are less frequently found in the weld metal. Figure 15 is a light photomicrograph of the mounted crosssection removed from Pipe Section 5. The through-wall crack is located at the toe of the weld root region at the ID surface and through the weld cap at the OD surface. The crack path is jagged midwall and smoother near the ID and OD surfaces. Near the OD surface, there appears to be a shear lip. Region 1, which comprises 75% of wall thickness, is the hydrogen crack. Region 2 is the smooth region that occurred from in-service growth. Region 3 is the shear lip and was the final ligament to fail. Figure 16 is a higher magnification light photomicrograph of the mount near the ID surface. Note that the crack is not

located at the fusion line in the figure. Left of the fusion line is weld metal and right of it is the HAZ. Figure 17 is a light photomicrograph of a mounted crosssection (Pipe Section 5) removed from a non-through-wall portion of the crack. The figure shows the crack is located near the root of the girth weld on the ID surface. A small secondary crack near the fusion line can also be seen. The cracks are located in the HAZ, although the tip of the primary crack extends into the weld metal Hardness Testing Hardness testing is typically performed when examining hydrogen cracks to determine if there is any evidence of a hardened microstructure. The indentations are performed on mounted cross-sections at various regions of the base metal, HAZ, and weld metal. The hardness may not vary significantly and show no evidence of a hardened martensitic microstructure. If a hardened martensitic microstructure is present in the HAZ after the deposition of a root pass, it will most likely be tempered or fully retransformed with the deposition of subsequent weld passes, removing any evidence of a hardened microstructure. The presence of hydrogen cracking in areas that are not excessively hard indicates that the cracking most likely occurred before the weld was completed. The threshold hardness at which crack susceptibility becomes significant varies with CE and with hydrogen content [1]. The highest hardness values in completed girth welds are typically located in the coarse-grained HAZ near the weld cap. Overview of Failures Table 1 is a summary of hydrogen-assisted crack indicators, locations/dimensions of the cracks, and background information on the pipe sections. This table identifies the three primary independent conditions that must be satisfied simultaneously for hydrogen cracking to occur. The cellulosic-coated electrodes provide high concentrations of hydrogen, evaluation of the CE values help determine if crack-susceptible microstructures are likely to be present, and misalignment indicates that tensile stresses may have been concentrated at the root of the weld. Row 1 lists the pipe samples. Row 2 indicates that cellulosiccoated electrodes were used in welding of the pipe joints in each of the examples of weld zone cracking. As mentioned above, cellulosic-coated electrodes generate large quantities of hydrogen during the welding process. Therefore, the source of hydrogen is apparent. Row 3 indicates the location of the hydrogen crack. In five cases, the crack was isolated to the top or bottom; in two cases, the cracks were located on the top half of the pipe; and in one case, cracks were located at various locations. Row 4 indicates if the pipe sections were large (>20 inches) or small (<20 inches) diameter pipe. Most of the pipe sections were large diameter. Row 5 indicates the wall thickness. The wall thicknesses ranged from 0.281 to 0.500 inches. Hydrogen assisted cracking tends to be more common in larger diameter, heavier wall pipelines; this occurs simply because the pipe joints themselves are heavier and more

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stiff, which equates to higher applied stresses on the welds during movement. Row 6 indicates the APL 5L grade. The grades ranged from X52 to X70. Row 7 and 8 indicate the CE of the pipe joints upstream (U/S) and downstream (D/S) of the girth weld. The CE values of the modern vintage pipes were all low. The CE values of the older vintage pipes were all higher than the current API 5L specification limit of 0.43 [2]. Note that when the older vintage pipes were manufactured, there was no CE limit in API 5L. However, some current pipe specifications (ASTM A53 for example), and fitting specifications (ASTM A234 and ASTM A105 for example) allow CE values that significantly exceed the limits of API 5L. The relatively high CE for the older vintage pipes promoted the development of a susceptible microstructure during welding. Row 9 indicates the CE values of the weld metal. The CE of the weld metal in Pipe Sections 1, 2, and 3 are higher than that of the base metal and very close to the API 5L specification limit (Pcm) of 0.25 for pipe, thus promoting the development of a susceptible microstructure. Note that Pipe Sections 2 and 3 contained hydrogen cracks that initiated in the weld metal. Row 10 and 11 indicates the amount of high-low misalignment. The misalignment varied from 0.037 to 0.125 inches. Row 12 indicates the length of the hydrogen cracks for the modern vintage pipes. The cracks ranged from 3.5 to 5 inches in length. Some of the cracks from the older vintage pipes had various lengths ranging from a few inches to 2 to 3 feet. Row 13 indicates the depth of the hydrogen cracks. The cracks varied from 17 to 100% of the wall thickness. The last row indicates if the crack was located at the toe of the weld root. All cracks parallel to the weld were located at the toe of the weld root. DISCUSSION While weld zone cracking can occur for a variety of reasons (fatigue cracking, stress corrosion cracking, ductile overload, brittle fracture from dynamic loading, or hydrogen cracking,) the ability to identify hydrogen cracking is an important step in being able to determine if the cracks are weld procedure related, or service condition related. As a result, the potential extent of the problem can be identified and an appropriate mitigation method selected. The characteristics of hydrogen cracking are relatively consistent, regardless of pipe vintage, thereby aiding in their identification. Of all the potential cracking mechanisms, weld hydrogen cracking may be most similar to sulfide stress cracking. Both are related to excessive hardness. Both can result in multiple subsurface cracks, although surface breaking cracks are common and sulfide stress cracks tend to be more highly branched. Sulfide stress cracking occurs in service while weld hydrogen cracking occurs during or shortly after welding. As discussed above, hardness above a threshold level is required at the time of cracking. The threshold hardness for weld hydrogen cracking is higher than what is typically considered to be the minimum hardness for sulfide stress cracking (i.e., HV 240 for sulfide stress cracking versus HV 300

or higher for welds made by cellulosic-coated electrodes). In the case of weld hydrogen cracking, the cracking can initiate in a hard zone and then the hardness can be reduced when the weld zone is reheated by subsequent weld passes. In both cases, the crack initiation is typically within the coarse-grained HAZ, although the cracks can then extend into other microstructures. Since sulfide stress cracking occurs at a lower threshold hardness, materials with a wider range of CE values can be at risk of sulfide stress cracking if everything else is constant. In the case of relatively low CE base metals, weld hydrogen cracking can occur preferentially in weld metal, especially if high strength weld metal is used (susceptibility to cracking increases as the strength of the weld metal increases) and if the base metal is thick (for example, 0.75 inches or greater). Crack surfaces in weld hydrogen cracks, especially those at the root, often show evidence of high temperature oxidation caused by exposure to high temperatures when subsequent weld passes are deposited. Oxidation is unlikely to be present in sulfide stress cracking (unless the service environment causes corrosion of the fracture). Finally, for sulfide stress cracking, there are certain environmental factors that must be present that are not required for weld hydrogen cracking. In summary weld hydrogen cracking has distinctive features that aid in its identification and mitigation. While often considered to be mainly a problem with welds made onto inservice piping, weld hydrogen cracking can occur during or shortly after making girth welds during new construction. Although predominantly a HAZ issue, in low CE base metals welded with high strength cellulosic-coated electrodes, the cracking can occur in the weld metal. The potential for hydrogen cracking in welds made with cellulosic-coated electrodes can be mitigated by recognizing and managing the factors responsible for increased susceptibility, including insufficient preheating, high stress, and detrimental microstructures promoted by high CE and fast cooling rates. REFERENCES [1] Bruce, W. A., Etheridge, B. C., and Carman, A., HeatAffected Zone Hardness Limits for In-Service Welding, Proceedings of IPC 2008, Paper No. IPC2008-64003, 7th International Pipeline Conference, September 29 October 3, 2008, Calgary, Alberta, Canada. [2] API Specification 5L, 42nd Edition, January 2000.

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FIGURE 1

PHOTOGRAPH OF THE EXTERNAL PIPE SURFACE OF PIPE SECTION 5 SHOWING THE GIRTH WELD.

Crack-like feature FIGURE 2 PHOTOGRAPH SHOWING A RADIOGRAPHIC IMAGE OF A GIRTH WELD FROM PIPE SECTION 1.

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Crack-like indication

FIGURE 3

PHOTOGRAPH OF THE EXTERNAL PIPE SURFACE AT THE GIRTH WELD OF PIPE SECTION 4 SHOWING AN INDICATION AT THE WELD CAP.

Crack-like indication

FIGURE 4

PHOTOGRAPH OF THE INTERNAL PIPE SURFACE AT THE GIRTH WELD OF PIPE SECTION 4 SHOWING AN INDICATION AT WELD ROOT.

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Crack-like indication

FIGURE 5

PHOTOGRAPH OF THE INTERNAL PIPE SURFACE AT THE GIRTH WELD OF PIPE SECTION 3 SHOWING AN INDICATION AT WELD ROOT.

Region 2

Figure 9

Region 2 OD

Region 1 Figure 8 FIGURE 6 ID

PHOTOGRAPH OF THE FRACTURE SURFACE FROM PIPE SECTION 3 AFTER BREAKING OPEN A PORTION OF THE WELD. NOTE THE PORTION MISSING NEAR THE MIDDLE OF THE FRACTURE SURFACES IS THAT WHICH WAS MOUNTED FOR METALLOGRAPHIC ANALYSIS.

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OD

ID

OD

FIGURE 7

PHOTOGRAPH OF THE FRACTURE SURFACE FROM PIPE SECTION 4 AFTER BREAKING OPEN A PORTION OF THE WELD.

FIGURE 8

SEM IMAGE OF THE FRACTURE SURFACE IN REGION 1 NEAR THE ID SURFACE (PIPE SECTION 3); AREA INDICATED IN FIGURE 6.

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FIGURE 9

SEM IMAGE OF THE FRACTURE SURFACE IN REGION 1 NEAR THE OD SURFACE (PIPE SECTION 3); AREA INDICATED IN FIGURE 6.

OD

Crack terminus

ID

FIGURE 10

LIGHT PHOTOMICROGRAPH OF THE MOUNTED CROSS-SECTION REMOVED FROM PIPE SECTION 1 (4% NITAL ETCHANT).

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OD Crack terminus

ID

FIGURE 11

LIGHT PHOTOMICROGRAPH OF THE MOUNTED CROSS-SECTION REMOVED FROM PIPE SECTION 3 (4% NITAL ETCHANT).

OD

Figure 14

Figure 13 ID

FIGURE 12

LIGHT PHOTOMICROGRAPH OF THE MOUNTED CROSS-SECTION REMOVED FROM PIPE SECTION 4 (4% NITAL ETCHANT).

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HAZ HAZ Weld metal

FIGURE 13

CLOSE-UP LIGHT PHOTOMICROGRAPH NEAR THE ID SURFACE SHOWING THE LOCATIONS OF THE CRACK RELATIVE TO THE HAZ AND WELD METAL (PIPE SECTION 4, 4% NITAL ETCHANT); MIRROR IMAGE OF AREA INDICATED IN FIGURE 12.

FIGURE 14

CLOSE-UP LIGHT PHOTOMICROGRAPH OF SECONDARY WELD METAL CRACKS ADJACENT TO THE PRIMARY CRACK (PIPE SECTION 4, 4% NITAL ETCHANT); MIRROR IMAGE OF AREA INDICATED IN FIGURE 12.

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OD Region 3

Region 2

Region 1

Figure 16

Region 1

ID FIGURE 15 LIGHT PHOTOMICROGRAPH OF THE MOUNTED CROSS-SECTION REMOVED FROM THE CENTER OF THE THROUGH-WALL PORTION OF THE LEAK (PIPE SECTION 5, 4% NITAL ETCHANT).

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HAZ

Weld metal

FIGURE 16

DETAIL OF LIGHT PHOTOMICROGRAPH OF THE AREA INDICATED IN FIGURE 15 (PIPE SECTION 5, 4% NITAL ETCHANT).

Secondary crack

FIGURE 17

LIGHT PHOTOMICROGRAPH OF THE MOUNTED CROSS-SECTION REMOVED FROM THE NONTHROUGH-WALL PORTION OF THE CRACK (PIPE SECTION 5, 4% NITAL ETCHANT).

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TABLE 1

SUMMARY OF HYDROGEN ASSISTED CRACK INDICATORS, LOCATIONS/DIMENSIONS OF THE CRACKS, AND BACKGROUND INFORMATION ON THE PIPE SECTIONS. PIPE SECTION 1 Yes Top >20 0.422 X70 0 16 0.16 0.23
1 1 1

Cellulosic coated electrodes Position on Pipe Diameter (inches) Wall thickness (inches) Grade CE U/S CE D/S CE (Weld) Misalignment (inches) Misalignment (% of pipe wall) Length (inches) Depth (% of pipe wall) At toe of weld root 1 2 3 4

2 Yes Bottom >20 0.500 X70 0.17 0.15 0.25


3 3 3 3 3 1 1 1

3 Yes Top >20 0.500 X70 0.15 0.16 0.24


1 1 1

4 Yes Bottom >20 0.250 X70 0.15 0.16 0.060 24 3.5 100 Yes
1 1

5 Yes 9-3 <20 0.281 X52 0.46 0.50 0.047 17 75 Yes


2 2

6 Yes Top >20 0.344 X60 0.47 0.46 0.30


4 4 2 2 2

7 Yes 9-3 >20 0.281 X52 0.46 0.50 0.029 8.4 17 Yes
2 2

8 Yes Various >20 0.344 X60 0.45 0.48 0.34


4 4 2 2 2

0.125 30 4.0 70 Yes

0.037 7.4 5.0 85 Yes

25 Yes

25 Yes

CE (Pcm) = C + Si/30 + Mn/20 + Cu/20 + Ni/60 + Cr/20 + Mo/15 + V/10 +5B CE (IIW) = C + Mn/6 + (Cr + Mo + V)/5 + (Cu + Ni)/15. Transverse weld metal crack. Minimal high low misalignment.

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