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Failure analysis and tness-for-service assessment

for a pipeline
Feng Yaorong
*, Li Helin
, Zhang Pingsheng
, Du Baiping
Ma Baodian
, Jin Zhihao
Tubular Goods Research Center of CNPC, Xi'an, Shaanxi, China
Jiao Tong University, Xi'an, Shaanxi, China
Received 22 March 1999; accepted 4 January 2000
Failures during hydrotest have been analyzed for a new crude oil pipeline, indicating that the main cause of failures
is severe lack of fusion defects formed by inadequate welding heat input in electric resistance welded (ERW) pipe welds.
The tness-for-service (FFS) assessment has been carried out for the pipeline by use of the fracture mechanics
approach, which shows that the pipeline may leak before break under designed operating pressure, and the lack of
fusion defects in the welds may propagate under the condition of uctuating pressure. The prediction of remaining life
for the pipeline is given in this paper. # 2001 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Pipeline failures; Hydrotest; Weld; Defects; Fitness for purpose
1. Introduction
The design pressure of the crude oil transmitting pipeline is 6.27 MPa. It is located at about 1.6 m in
depth underground and the minimum operating temperature is 8

C. The pipe is 377 mm OD by 6 and 7

mm wall thickness, ERW. Some of the pipe is API SPEC 5L Grade X52 and some is a non API grade
called T/S 52K [1]. The pipeline was hydrotested in sections after construction in accordance with the fol-
lowing requirements: strength test at 9.23 MPa for 4 h and leakproof test at 7.28 MPa for 24 h. Several
failures occurred during the hydrotests. The hydrotest was repeated after the removal of the failed pipe
sections. Finally, the hydrotest requirements were reached. Failure analysis has been done for the failed
pipe sections. Because of concern regarding the integrity of the pipeline, FFS assessment has been carried
out in the present paper.
1350-6307/01/$ - see front matter # 2001 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
PI I : S1350- 6307( 00) 00022- 4
Engineering Failure Analysis 8 (2001) 399407
* Corresponding author. Tel.: +86-29-821-4211; fax: +86-29-822-3416.
E-mail address: (F. Yaorong).
2. Inspection and analysis of the pipes
2.1. Fracture surface analysis
Several burst failures occurred during the hydrotests of the various sections. These failures are sum-
marized in Table 1, and the typical appearance for burst pipes is shown in Fig. 1. All bursts initiate from
the inside surface lack of fusion defects in ERW pipe welds. The fracture surface can be classied as both
ductile fracture and brittle fracture according to the macrofracture surface analysis of the burst pipe sec-
The fracture surface of ductile fracture for the failed pipe sections consists of lack of fusion zone and
tearing-out zone. The brittle fracture surface consists of lack of fusion zone, fast crack propagation zone
and tearing-out zone. There are numerous oxides on lack of fusion zone (see Fig. 2). The appearance of
Table 1
Failure states of pipeline during hydrostatic test
Pipe no. Thickness (mm) Grade Maximum pressure (MPa) Failure type Defect size (a 2c mm)
1 7 X52 7.20 Burst 5.0418
2 6 T/S52K 7.10 Burst 3.0205
5 6 T/S52K 9.05 Burst 3.0970
6 7 X52 8.90 Burst 2.5560
7 7 X52 8.60 Burst 3.2980
11 7 T/S52K 9.23 Burst 2.51045
13 6 T/S52K 9.23 Burst 2.3162
14 7 X52 9.23 Burst 5.0390
Hydrotests were performed at about 15

Fig. 1. The macro-appearance of a burst pipe.
400 Feng Yaorong et al. / Engineering Failure Analysis 8 (2001) 399407
fast crack propagation zone is cleavage and quasi-cleavage fracture (see Fig. 3), while that of tearing-out
zone is dimples.
2.2. Chemical composition
Samples are taken from the failed pipe sections and are analyzed by means of the Spectrovac 2000
Analyzer, the chemical compositions are listed in Table 2. They conform with API SPEC 5L [1] and the
related construction specication requirements [2].
2.3. Mechanical properties
The tension and Charpy V-notch impact tests for pipe body and welds are conducted according to API
SPEC 5L and ASTM A370 [3]. The test results are shown in Tables 3 and 4.
Fig. 2. SEM appearance on lack of fusion zone.
Table 2
Chemical composition
Grade C Si Mn P S Nb V Ti Ceq
X52 0.10 0.28 1.35 0.009 <0.003 0.033 0.009 0.032 0.32 0.18
T/S52K 0.16 0.24 1.12 0.016 <0.003 0.018 0.009 0.032 0.36 0.24
Feng Yaorong et al. / Engineering Failure Analysis 8 (2001) 399407 401
The strength for pipe body and welds conforms with the related specication; however, the elongation
of welds for some specimens is much lower than that of pipe body (no requirement for welds in related
specications, for reference).
The Charpy V-notch impact energy for all specimens is much lower than the required value in
XGJGOO-91 (the average impact energy for 1/2 size specimen at 20

C shall be greater than or equal to

20 J).
Fig. 3. SEM appearance of FAS propagation zone.
Table 3
Tensile properties of the failed pipe sections
Pipe no. Pipe body Weld zone
YS (MPa) UTS (MPa) %E Y/TS YS (MPa) UTS (MPa) %E Y/TS Fracture position
1 435 525 37.3 0.84
2 455 610 29.3 0.75 519 636 16.2 0.81 Pipe body
6 488 572 29.5 0.85
7 455 610 29.3 0.75
11 437 617 26.0 0.71 494 624 10.7 0.79 Weld
13 472 619 27.2 0.76 501 655 20.7 0.76 Pipe body
14 487 608 27.3 0.80 511 622 5.5 0.80 Weld
Specimen 38.150.8 mm (widthgage length), transverse direction.
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2.4. Metallographic examination
The microstructures of pipe body are ferrite and pearlite. The microstructures of the weld for Nos. 2, 7
and 13 are ferrite, pearlite and upper bainite, so it can be judged that normalizing process is not carried out
for these specimens after welding. The microstructures of welds for the rest are ferrite and pearlite.
Fractography shows that the centerline of metal ow in welds for some pipes are deviated to the outside,
and the metal ow for some specimens simply ows from the outside surface to the inside surface.
3. Failure cause analysis of pipe sections
The macro-analysis indicates that there are large-sized lack of fusion defects in the inside of the welds, their
depths range from2.3 to 5.0 mm, and are of 3671%of the nominal wall thickness. While the lengths of lack of
fusion defects range from 162 to 1045 mm, this decreases the load-bearing area of the weld considerably and
causes severe stress concentration at the tip of crack. All these decrease the load-bearing capacity of the pipe
weld greatly and result in breaking of pipe sections during hydrotest. The inspection and analysis results show
that inadequate welding heat input is the major cause for the forming of large-sized lack of fusion defects.
The material properties, especially the toughness of the weld are of large scatter, these are because of the
dierence of chemical composition, detail manufacturing condition including the forming, welding and
heat-treatment after welding for various pipe sections. There are defects so-called ``cold welding'' in some
pipe welds, and heat-treatment process is omitted. These are all the causes resulting in decreasing of
toughness in the pipe weld.
The actual burst pressure and fracture surface appearance vary greatly for various pipe sections. This is
because of the large dierence in actual lack of fusion defect size and material properties for the pipes.
4. FFS assessment for the pipeline
In consideration of safety, reliability and service life of the pipeline, FFS assessment was required. To do
this, the operation stress, material toughness and defect size obtained from inspection are required. For 377
mm OD by 6 mm wall thickness ERW pipes, the measured minimum toughness of the weld at the lowest
operating temperature (+8

is 0.016 mm. Suppose the inside surface defect size of the weld for the
pipe is 2.3 mm in depth and 230 mm in length. The FFS assessment is carried out below.
Table 4
The Charpy V-notch impact properties of the failed pipe sections
Pipe No. Pipe body Weld

C 20

C FATT50 (

C) 20

C 20

C FATT50 (

1 21.0 100 21.0 100
2 18.7 100 8.0 46 6.0 15
6 20.0 100
7 19.5 100 19.3 100 <80 13.8 80 6.0 15 15
11 16.7 100 18.3 100 <80 9.7 85 7.7 35 1
13 27.7 100 28.7 100 <80 7.7 35 4.3 15 40
14 23.2 100 21.3 95 70 14.0 75 7.8 30 2
Specimen: 51055 mm, transverse direction.
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According to the Dugdale model [4] and some modication considering the bulging eect, crack type and
the work-hardening of the materials, the CTOD() expression for pipe is as below [5]:
= 8
= E ( ) [ ]ln s M= 2
( ) [ ] (I)
where =crack tip opening displacement (mm);
=the material ow stress:


is the
yield strength, and
is the ultimate tensile strength (MPa); a
=the equivalent through wall crack length
corresponding to the surface or embedded crack (mm); M=the bulging factor; E=the Young's modulus,
equal to 2.0610
(MPa); =the operating stress of the pipe.
Substituting the actual data for above parameters, the assessment can be performed.
The operating stress can be calculated according to the following equation:


=the membrane stress (MPa);
=PD/(2t) for thin wall pressure vessels, where P is the internal
pressure of the pipe, D is the pipe diameter, and t is the wall thickness of the pipe;
=the bending stress;

=the residual stress.
The measured residual stress at the weld on the inside surface in the circumferential direction for these
failed pipe sections is about 200 MPa, and on the outside surface is about +200 MPa, so
cannot be considered in the calculation of the stress, and the operating stress at design pressure (6.27 MPa)
= PD= 2t ( ) = 194 MPa.
The equivalent defect size (a
) can be calculated from the following equation:
= 1:1=Q

a = 1:21a= E k ( )
0:212 =

i h
; (Q)
where k = 1 a=c ( )

= 0:9998 and E k ( ) = 1:0008 by referring to related tables [5]. The calculated a
2:89 mm from these data, and
M = 1 1:61a

= 1:006:
=450 MPa and
= 620 MPa, so
= 535 MPa. Therefore, the calculated CTOD() is
0:0033 mm.
The safety factor at designed pressure is n
= 4:85.
Due to the internal pressure uctuating, the maximum pressure may reach 7 MPa, the calculated oper-
ating stress is 216 MPa, and
= 0:0042, so the safety factor is n

= 3:81.
The minimum pressure may drop to 5 MPa, then =155 MPa and
= 0:0021, so the safety factor
= 7:62.
The calculated results show that the pipeline is safe in normal operation.
When the maximum operating pressure is 7 MPa and

is 0.016 mm, the critical crack size resulting in

unstable fracture a

is 8.65 mm. It exceeds the wall thickness of the pipe sections, so the pipe may leak
before break. Therefore, take a

as 6 mm (the nominal wall thickness of the pipe) in the calculation below.

When the internal pressure changes from 5 to 7 MPa, the range of stress strength factor K at crack tip
can be calculated from Eqs. (4) and (5):
= E

K = E




: (S)
404 Feng Yaorong et al. / Engineering Failure Analysis 8 (2001) 399407
So K = 5:78 MPa m
at the above condition.
When the ratio of minimum stress to maximum stress r =
= 0:7, measured minimum threshold
stress strength factor K
for weld materials is equal to 3 MPa m
(see Table 5). Because K at the
actual crack tip is greater than K
, the crack may propagate during the operating process. The tested
upper limit expression of the crack propagation rate for the weld materials (see Fig. 4) is
Table 5
Threshold stress strength factor K
for weld
Pipe no. K
(MPa m
1 2 3
2 3.5 4.0 3.5
11 3.5 3.5 3.7
13 3.0 3.5 3.9
Fig. 4. The relationship between K and da=dN for the welds of failed pipes.
Feng Yaorong et al. / Engineering Failure Analysis 8 (2001) 399407 405
da=dN =1:8 10
K ( )
where da=dN is in mm/cycle and K is in MPa m
From the Paris Law da=dN = c K ( )
, we can get
N = 2 a


= 2 n ( )c K ( )
[ ] n ,= 2 ( ): (U)
Let c = 1:8 10
, n = 3:63, K = 5:78 MPa m
, a
= 2:3 mm and a
= 6 mm: the calculated pressure
cycles N = 32 144. Suppose the pressure changes three cycles each day, the estimated service life is about
29.36 years.
From the view of plastic collapse, when the stress acting on the remaining area for pressured pipe con-
taining defects reaches the ow stress of the materials, plastic collapse may occur. Then the remaining
ligament thickness l = P
D= 2
( ) = 2:43 mm, and the allowable maximum crack depth in the pipe weld
is a

= t l = 3:57 mm. The calculated remaining life of the pipeline from this is N = 17 851 cycles and the
estimated remaining life is 16.3 years.
In order to operate for longer than 20 years, that is N = 219 000 cycles, then the calculated allowable
defect size a

is 0.374 mm. In other words, if the defect size a

is 2.3 mm, the uctuating range of the
operating pressure should be reduced so as to extend the lifetime of the pipeline.
It should be pointed out that the above calculation is just fundamental, and, in fact, the material prop-
erties, defect size and operating stress are all characterized as a statistical distribution. So, a detailed cal-
culation and analysis should be explored afterwards.
On the basis of the above assessment, the pipeline operated for about 8 months at room temperature and
elevated temperature (<40

C) under the condition of internal pressure ranging from 2.8 to 3.24 MPa, then
increased the operating pressure gradually to 5.8 MPa operating at 13

C. The pipeline has been operating

safely to date.
5. Conclusion
The main cause of failure of the pipe sections during hydrotest is the lack of fusion defects resulting from
the inadequate welding heat input in the pipe weld, and it is caused by the poor condition of the forming
stands and unstable manufacturing process.
The results of the FFS show that the pipeline may leak before break under the condition of a
= 2:3 mm,
maximum operating pressure P
= 7 MPa and material toughness

= 0:016 mm.
The defects may propagate due to the operating pressure uctuation of the pipeline. The lack of fusion
defects of the welds may decrease the service life of the pipeline considerably.
The probabilistic fracture mechanics approach should be adopted in the FFS assessment of the pipeline
because of the uncertainty and scatter of the material properties, operating stress and defect size. A
detailed assessment approach should be explored in the future.
In order to increase the safety, reliability and service life of the pipeline, the pressure uctuating range of
the pipeline should be limited.
[1] API SPEC 5L. Specication for line pipe. 41st ed. 1995.
406 Feng Yaorong et al. / Engineering Failure Analysis 8 (2001) 399407
[2] XGJGOO, 1991. Technology and quality specication of pipe for West China pipelines, 1991 [in Chinese].
[3] ASTM, A370. Standard test methods and denitions for mechanical testing of steel products. 1994.
[4] Dugdale DS. Yielding of steel sheets containing slits. J Mech Phys Solids 1960;8:1008.
[5] Gao Qing. Fracture mechanics for engineering, 1986 [in Chinese].
Feng Yaorong et al. / Engineering Failure Analysis 8 (2001) 399407 407