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


Yong-Yi Wang and Ming Liu Center for Reliable Energy Systems Dublin, OH, USA Steve Rapp Spectra Energy Houston, TX, USA Laurie Collins Evraz N.A. Regina, Sask, Canada

ABSTRACT API 5L allows skelp-end welds (SEWs) in finished pipes with some restriction on their position relative to the pipe ends. However, the overall acceptance of SEWs by the pipeline industry is spotty. For large diameter pipes, there could be one SEW for every five to seven joints of pipes. Therefore, allowing SEWs in finished pipes offers meaningful economic advantages to both pipe suppliers and purchasers when the quality of the SEWs can be assured. A joint industry project (JIP) was formed to develop uniformly acceptable inspection and test plans (ITPs) for SEWs. The JIP members included the five linepipe manufacturers and six pipeline operators. The ITPs were developed through two parallel processes: (1) fitness-forservice analysis of the SEWs under a variety of loading conditions expected in the entire service life of a pipeline, and (2) consensus building based on the best practice and quality control protocols. The JIP group reviewed the suitability of existing QA procedures for SEWs and sought to provide users further assurance by developing supplemental QA/QC procedures. The ITPs contain additional provisions to supplement the requirements of the accepted industry standards, such as API 5L and CSA Z245.1. They incorporated specific quality control measures that address concerns in certain perceived weak points of SEWs, including the effects of coil-end properties, weld quality at T-joints, and open-root forming of the partial-penetration ID weld. This paper summarizes the deliberation and recommended resolution of several key issues related to the perceived quality concerns of SEWs. A companion paper covers the fitness-forservice analysis of SEWs [1]. The project group, led by respective organizations of the authors, is working with API 5L committee to adopt some of the recommendations in the future revisions of API 5L.

KEYWORDS Pipeline construction, linepipe specification, spiral pipe, skelp-end weld INTRODUCTION Skelp-End Weld (SEW) Spiral pipes are usually manufactured from steel coils. Some older spiral pipes were manufactured from steel plates. The coils and plates are collectively termed skelp. The terms of skelp and coil are used interchangeably in this paper. The weld joining the skelp is often called skelp-end weld (or strip/plate end weld in API 5L term [2]). The position of the skelp-end weld (SEW) in a pipe is schematically shown in Figure 1. The skelp is firstly joined by a partial penetration weld on what will become the ID side of the pipe. The string with the partially completed skelp-end weld is fed into the pipe forming process. The helical welding is completed from ID and OD sides as the pipe is being formed. The skelp-end weld is then completed from the OD side by applying OD welding. As a result, the partially completed skelp-end weld is subjected to pipe forming strains. Acceptance of SEWs For a typical large diameter onshore pipeline (diameter 30 inch or above and wall thickness 3/8 inch or above), there could be one SEW in every 5-7 pipe joints, depending on the length of the pipe joints. Removing those SEWs increases the cost of the pipes. On the other hand, unless the perceived risks associated with SEWs are addressed, the acceptance of SEWs would remain uncertain. At the present time, the acceptance of the SEW in finished line pipes varies greatly. Some companies do not accept SEWs at all. Other companies may accept SEWs on a case-by-case basis, often after additional testing and inspection specified by the companies. The requirements for the additional testing and inspection vary

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from company to company. There is a strong incentive for all stakeholders to have a set of uniform testing and inspection procedures. These procedures must be practical for the pipe mills to implement and provide sufficient assurance of the quality of the pipes containing SEWs.
Skelp-End Weld

hydrotest [3]. Some of the identified contributing factors were the tracking of materials and qualification of steels coils. The issue of coil-end properties and the qualification of coil suppliers became an import part of the JIP. Recommendations The following language on the qualification of coil suppliers is was developed. 1. The pipe mill shall qualify all coil suppliers to demonstrate that the supplied coils have the requisite mechanical and metallurgical properties for making qualified pipes. Each qualification shall include grade and wall thickness grouping as deemed appropriate by the pipe mill. The records of the qualification shall be maintained and available to purchasers. Any significant changes to the alloy compositions or steel process conditions by the coil supplier shall require re-qualification.

Helical Weld

Figure 1

Schematic illustration of a skelp-end weld in a helical seam pipe

3. 4.

Quality Concerns of SEWs Discussions within the JIP group identified the following issues related to the quality of SEWs. 1. The mechanical properties of the coil ends can be different from the main portion of the coil due to the differences in the precipitation strengthening and thermal history in coil manufacturing process. The partially completed SEW is subjected to open root straining during the pipe forming process. The T-welds at the intersection of the helical seam and the SEW are unique to spiral pipes with SEWs. The overlapping welds may result in weld and HAZ properties different from other welds. Depending on spiral angle and field cold bending procedure, SEWs could be subjected to high strains if the section containing SEWs is allowed to be bent.

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Some members commented that Clause No. 4 can be subjected to interpretation and might be difficult to implement. The group discussed the need and possibility of defining chemical composition range beyond which re-qualification would be needed. A meaningful and workable range was considered difficult to define without a large quantity of data. Furthermore, the group believed the specifics of qualification should be left to the agreement between pipe suppliers and purchasers. Test Matrix of Coil End Properties Background The group discussed the need to conduct a variety of mechanical tests, including, tensile, Charpy, and hardness. There was a unanimous agreement for tensile tests. As for the Charpy test, the consensus was that the test may be conducted at the start of a production at the qualification temperature. There was no need for continued lot testing for the purpose of confirming the coil-end property as the Charpy properties are not expected to vary greatly. The required minimum and average Charpy values should be left to the agreement between pipe suppliers and purchasers. The hardness test of the pipe should be limited to qualification, not lot testing. Other tests, such as DWTT (drop weight tear test), could be included in the qualification and subject to the agreement between pipe suppliers and purchasers. Sample Test Results The coil end properties were examined by samples taken from delivered coils before pipe forming and from formed pipes. The samples from the coils (before pipe forming) were taken from the coil head and coil tail and tested in the direction transverse to the rolling direction. The samples from


PROCESS TO ADDRESS KEY ISSUES At the start of the JIP, key issues surrounding the acceptance of SEWs were collected. These issues were discussed and expanded through multiple teleconferences and then organized in a ballot format and distributed among group members. The returned ballots along with the comments were analyzed and summarized. The comments were then discussed at multiple teleconferences. The outcome of this consensus building process is discussed below. The sponsors and research team are collectively referred to as project team members as they all contributed to the outcome of this work. KEY ISSUES AND RECOMMENDATIONS Qualification of Coil Suppliers and Coil-End Properties Background Since the launch of the JIP, the pipeline industries in the US experienced multiple cases of expanded pipes during

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the formed pipes were taken from first, middle, and last pipe and tested in the pipe hoop direction. The formed X70 pipe had 48 OD and 0.906 wall thickness. This relatively thick pipe was selected as this thickness represents the high end of wall thickness for high grade hot-rolled coils. The yield strength distribution of the coil is given in Figure 2. The head and tail of the coil are defined in reference to the skelp rolling. It shows that the head of the coil has lower yield strength than the tail of the coil. Similar trend is shown in UTS as given in Figure 3. A total of four samples were tested per coil position. The yield strength and UTS distribution of the pipe is shown in Figure 4 and Figure 5, respectively. Both the yield strength and UTS meet the API 5L and CSA Z245.1 minimum strength requirement. Overall the middle pipe has the highest strength and the first pipe has the lowest strength. A total of seven samples were tested per pipe position. These tests demonstrate that the coil ends (both head and tail) could have slightly lower tensile properties than the middle of the coil. However both ends can meet API/CSA requirements when proper coil qualification is performed. It should be recognized that the properties of coil head and tail are provided as an example. The coil is from one producer for a specific pipe and grade. The values of those properties should not be interpreted as representing a broad range of possible properties, particularly considering the different cooling practices of hop strip mills. Recommendations (1) The coil end properties shall be confirmed by conducting tensile testing on the pipe body adjacent to SEW at one set of tests per 50 lengths containing a SEW or by agreement between pipe purchasers and suppliers. (2) The test shall nominally consist of two samples, one each on either side of the SEW. The sample shall be tested in pipe hoop direction. (3) The samples shall be taken from locations that are (a) approximately mid-width of the coil, and (b) close to the SEW while keeping a minimum distance of 100 mm (3.98) from the center of the SEW. (c) The sample locations may be referenced to Figure 6. (4) The tensile requirements are the same as the nominal requirements for the pipe body. (5) The following tests are optional and subject to the agreement between the pipe purchasers and suppliers: (a) Charpy. (b) Hardness, and (c) DWTT. Figure 2 Yield strength distribution of the coil

Figure 3

UTS distribution of the coil

Figure 4

Yield strength distribution of the pipe (API required minimum value is 485 MPa)

Figure 5

UTS distribution of the pipe (API min 565 MPa)

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driven by many factors, including the weld strength, hardness, ductility, and toughness. The development of a set of criteria that would preclude the ID weld cracking was considered impractical. The development of physical screening criteria on a production basis is also difficult as the location of the metallurgical sectioning and the number of samples may affect the outcome. The combination of NDT, rigorous acceptance criteria, and fitness-for-service analysis was considered the most feasible approach. Recommendations The group adopted the following approaches: (1) Accept the SEW on the basis of NDT, and (2) Rely on the fitness-for-service analysis to determine the significance of any remaining flaws that may exist after acceptance. The following statement of acceptance is recommended by the group: The welds are acceptable if (1) no weld root cracking is found or (2) it can be demonstrated that the cracking would re-melt by the OD weld with sufficient margin for variability. The second condition may be met by NDT examination of the completed weld (with ID and OD welds).

Figure 6

Recommended Specimen Sampling Locations to confirm coil-end properties

Treatment of ID Welds Background The quality and acceptance of the ID weld of SEWs was a subject of considerable discussion. The open root of the ID weld is subjected to straining in pipe forming process. There were concerns about the formation of cracks at weld root. Those cracks could remain after the OD weld is made. Discussions were held on the need and possibility of defining minimum penetration of the ID weld. The overall consensus was that the minimum penetration is processdependent. Defining a uniform minimum penetration was not necessary. There were considerable discussions centered on root cracking, including whether it exists, how to find it, how much is acceptable, and whether it would be removed when the OD weld is applied. The consensus was that it would be very difficult to define a reliable procedure to look for such cracks. Examination of ID Welds To address the issue of possible weld cracking of the partial-penetration ID weld of the SEW during pipe forming, completed ID welds were sectioned and examined. The first set of samples was taken from an X70 36 OD pipe with 0.656 wall thickness (t) (OD/t = 55). The metallurgical sections of the ID weld are shown in Figure 7. There was no evidence of cracking. The penetration of the ID is quite high, more than 75% of the pipe wall. The second set of samples was taken from an X70 36 OD pipe with 0.403 wall thickness (see Figure 8). The ID weld has a partial penetration of approximately 40-50%. There is no evidence of cracking at the bottom of the weld after forming. These samples of metallurgical sections show that welds free of cracking could be made even at a relatively low penetration level. However, the propensity of cracking is

Figure 7

Metallurgical sections of an ID weld of 0.656 WT after forming

Figure 8

Metallurgical sections of a partial-penetration ID weld of WT 0.403 The fitness-for-service analysis shows that any remaining flaws after the acceptance of NDT inspection do not pose structural integrity issues [1]. Inspection and Acceptance of T-Joints Overall Consideration and Recommendations There were two issues related to the acceptance of the Tjoint. The first one was whether the area around the T-joint on the ID side should be ground flush. The group consensus is that grinding is necessary for full UT inspection of the helical weld. Some members also commented that grinding of the

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OD side may also be advisable for improved fatigue performance. The second issue was related to X-ray inspection of the Tjoints. Some argued that the T-joints are inspected in both directions (helical and SEW directions) and these inspections should be sufficient. An example of this practice is the inspection and acceptance of double joint welds, in which no additional inspection is required beyond the normal inspection of the seam and girth welds. Others had somewhat different views on this issue, pointing to the straining of the open root of the ID weld during the pipe forming process. There is no equivalent operation in the double joint welds. Some operators viewed the T-joint as a potential area of weakness in terms of the overall SEW integrity. They highly recommended the redundant X-ray inspections of the T-joint. The group agreed that it is advisable that the X-ray inspections of the T-joints should be conducted until the quality of the Tjoints is fully assured by more test data. Optional Tensile Test for T-Joint In addition to the rigorous inspections recommended by the group, optional tests may be conducted at a frequency of one set of tests per 50 lengths containing a SEW. (1) These tests are optional and for information only. (2) No strength requirements are proposed at this time. (3) The sample location is given in Figure 9. (4) The round bar samples should have the largest possible cross sectional dimensions for the wall thickness and pipe diameter. (5) No flattening of the sampling area shall be performed before the specimen extraction.

helical welds should be required. The majority of the responders considered such requirements to be necessary. Some stated that mechanized UT inspection was not feasible for some pipe suppliers. The requirements of API 5L for the full length of the SEW including the T-joints can be met by a combination of manual UT and X-ray. Others considered manual probe to be acceptable, but probably impractical for large-scale production. However, manual probe may be applied to local sections of a pipe. In summary, a mechanized multi-probe system is preferred by the majority of the members. The group did not reject the manual probe if it becomes necessary. The final decision should be agreed upon by the pipe suppliers and purchasers. Inspection Sequence of SEW versus Hydrotesting This issue is related to the relative sequence among final inspection, acceptance of SEWs, and hydrotesting. Currently, there is no requirement in API 5L regarding the inspection and acceptance of helical welds after hydrotesting. Nevertheless, it is the general practice of pipe mills that inspections are conducted after hydrotesting. Some questioned if there was any evidence of flaw growth during hydrotesting. No such evidence exists from this group. Given the current inconsistent acceptance of SEWs, pipe purchasers, at a minimum, would likely require that the inspection and acceptance of SEWs should be as stringent as helical seam welds. Furthermore, the quality of SEWs should be equivalent to helical seam welds. Therefore, subjecting SEWs to the same inspection and acceptance criteria as helical seam welds is considered reasonable. Final inspection and acceptance of SEWs should be done after hydrotesting. TESTING AND ANALYSIS OF CURVEDWIDE PLATE (CWP) CONTAINING SEW Background To provide confirmation of the SEW quality, curve wide plate (CWP) specimens containing SEW were tested. The API 5L X70 pipe had a diameter of 36 inch and wall thickness of 0.469 inch. A range of small-scale tests were also conducted to characterize the basic material properties, including tensile, Charpy impact toughness, and hardness. The relative position of the test specimens is given in Figure 10.

Skelp-End Weld

Skelp end weld

Helical weld

1: All weld round bar specimen at T-joint position. 2: Round bar specimens in an angle of 45 between SEW and submerged arc weld.

Figure 9

Recommended specimen locations for optional tensile test of T-joints Figure 10 Schematic illustration of test specimens relative to the helical and SEW

Inspection System for SEWs The members were asked if the use of mechanized multiprobe UT systems comparable to the systems used for the

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Material Tensile Properties The tensile properties of the pipe and the weld metal were determined by small-scale tensile tests. The representative longitudinal tensile property of the pipe is shown in Figure 11. The all-weld metal tensile properties of the helical weld and SEW are also given in Figure 11. The yield and tensile strength of the helical weld is approximately 25-30 MPa higher than that of the SEW. The strength of both welds overmatches that of the base pipe by 30-60 MPa.

was taken as 3.4 mm. The rest of the model has the uniform tensile property of the pipe. Predicted Failure Location The contour of the longitudinal strain at various levels of overall deformation is given in Figure 15. Due to higher strength of the helical weld and SEW (than the base pipe), the strains near those welds are slightly lower than the base pipe in the initial stage of deformation, i.e., applied displacement at 58 mm. As more displacement is applied to the specimen, the strain starts to accumulate near the intersection of the helical weld and the edge of the CWP specimen on the side of the SEW (at applied displacement of 82 mm). The accumulation of strain on this side of the specimen is expected as the side with two welds (helical weld and SEW) forces more deformation into the base pipe than the side with only one weld (helical weld) due to the higher strength of the weld. Further application of the displacement continues to force higher strain into a narrow band in the base pipe (at applied displacement of 94 and 120 mm). Eventually the specimen is predicted to fail in the base pipe at an approximately 40 angle away from the helical weld.

Figure 11

Representative tensile properties of the pipe, helical weld, and SEW

Instrumentation Plan for the CWP Tests The layout of the instrumentation plan is shown in Figure 12. The specimen is loaded in longitudinal tension. The deformation of the specimen is monitored using various extensometers, LVDTs, and strain gauges. The overall deformation of the specimen was measured by two cable extensometers with a gauge length of 1000 mm. The pipe body deformation was measured by two separate LVDTs above and below the welds with a gauge length of 200 mm. LVDTs were also placed across the helical weld and SEW. Strain gauges were placed at various key locations. The setup of the test specimen is shown in Figure 13. Prediction of Failure Location by FEA Prior to performing the CWP tests, finite element analysis was conducted with the objective of predicting the performance of the CWP specimen. The specific goal was to predict the failure location. Finite Element Model The finite element model was set up to simulate the test specimen. The dimensions of the model are the same as the actual test specimen, as shown in Figure 14. The helical weld and SEW are modeled by two zone, deposited weld metal and heat-affected zone (HAZ). Based on the cross-section of the weld, the weld width was taken as 6.8 mm and the HAZ width

Figure 12

Instrumentation plan of CWP

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Figure 15

Contour of longitudinal strain at various levels of overall displacement



Left Right

Stress (ksi)





Figure 13

Setup of CWP test


0 0.0 1.0 2.0 3.0

% Strain




Figure 16

Stress-strain relation generated using the cable extensometers

Summary of Test Results The stress-strain relation from the test is shown in Figure 16. The strains were computed from the cable extensometers over the 1000-mm gage length on either side of the specimen. The ruptured specimen after the test is shown in Figure 17. The failure was initiated at the intersection of the helical weld and the pipe body on the left side of the specimen. The rupture runs approximately 400 from the loading direction away from the helical weld. The failure location and orientation are almost exactly as those predicted by the finite element model. Summary of the CWP Test and Analysis The CWP test shows that the overmatching weld metal plus its weld-cap reinforcement effectively shield the welds from localized deformation when the overall specimen is loaded in tension. The SEW did not weaken the helical weld. The specimen fails in the pipe body away from the SEW and the T-joint.

Figure 14 Finite element model with the helical and SEW

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through the Center for Reliable Energy Systems (CRES). The report has also been provided to API 5L committee. The project group believes that the supplementary manufacturing quality confirmation recommendations described herein provide an added level of assurance for SEWs in spiral pipes and such pipes can be installed and provide satisfactory service. The properties of coil head and tail are provided as an example. The coil is from one producer for a specific pipe and grade. The values of those properties should not be interpreted as representing a broad range of possible properties. It is necessary to qualify the coil head and tail properties per procedures recommended here for broad project applications. ACKNOWLEDGMENT The work reported here reflects the contribution of many dedicated individuals. The authors are grateful to Spectra Energy for allowing Mr. Steve Rapp to lead the JIP. The CWP test reported here was conducted at Evraz NA under the direction of Dr. Laurie Collins. Mr. Alex Afaganis of Evraz NA provided highly useful comments throughout multiple rounds of revisions of the ITPs. Mr. Antonis Pergialiotis and Mr. Vasilis Gotsis of Corinth Pipe Works (CPW) provided valuable experimental data that allowed the critical assessment of the SEW quality. Ms. Arti Bhatia of Alliance Pipeline provided Alliances guideline document on SEWs. Figure 17 A ruptured specimen after the CWP test CONCLUDING REMARKS A JIP was formed to develop uniformly acceptable manufacturing practices, inspection procedures, and acceptance criteria for SEWs. This objective was achieved by following two separate, yet complementary routes. In the first route, the integrity of SEWs was analyzed using fitness-forservice principles. The second route involved a consensus building process. A full suite of key issues surrounding the quality, integrity, and acceptance of SEWs were debated and the resolution for those issues was developed. This paper focuses on the consensus building process. A companion paper covers the fitness-for-service analysis [1]. A set of uniform inspection and testing plans (ITPs) were developed. The additional provisions in the ITPs were provided to supplement the requirements of the accepted industry standards, such as API 5L and CSA Z245.1. The ITPs incorporated specific quality control measures that address concerns in certain perceived weak points of SEWs, including the effects of coil-end properties, weld quality at Tjoints, and open-root forming of the partial-penetration ID weld. The ITPs are available in a form of a stand-alone appendix (Appendix G in the JIP report) which can be attached as a supplemental requirement/agreement between pipe suppliers and purchasers. The full JIP report is available The financial support and technical contributions of the following sponsors are gratefully acknowledged: Alliance Pipeline, Berg Steel Pipe, Corinth Pipe Works, El Paso, Enbridge, Evraz Inc. N.A., Panhandle Energy, PSL N.A., Spectra Energy, Stupp, and TransCanada Pipeline Ltd. REFERENCES

Liu, M., Wang, Y.-Y., and Rapp, S., "Fitness-for-service analysis of skelp-end welds in spiral pipes," Proceedings of the 9th international pipeline conference, Paper No. IPC2012-90662, September 24-28, 2012, Calgary, Alberta, Canada. API 5L, 44th Ed. DOT-PHMSA and INGAA pipeline workshop, Ft. Worth, TX, April 15, 2010. construction

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