Specimens from a failed X-52 pipeline that had been inservice for 34 years were pitted using the passivation/immersion method developed by the authors to simulate pitted pipelines observed in service. The resulting pitted samples were then cyclically loaded in an aqueous near-neutral pH environment sparged with 5% CO2 / balance N2 gas mixture at high stress ratios (minimum stress/maximum stress), low strain rates and low frequencies which were close to those experienced in service. It was found that the majority of cracks initiated from the corrosion pits and were less than 0.5 to 0.6 mm deep and were generally quite blunt. These cracks were transgranular in nature and designated as Stage I cracks and were typical of cracks found in most crack colonies. However, the further growth of these short, blunt cracks was significantly influenced by the distribution of the nearby non-metallic inclusions. Inclusions enhanced the stress-facilitated dissolution crack growth, which is the crack growth method proposed by the authors in a related paper. When the orientation of the inclusions was at a small acute angle to the orientation of the pits or cracks, and the inclusions were in the same plane as crack initiation or advance, these inclusions would enhance crack growth, or even trap hydrogen which further resulted in the formation of clusters of tiny cracks, which appeared to be caused by hydrogen. The hydrogen-produced cracks could be eaten away later by the stress-facilitated further dissolution of the blunt cracks. If these cracks can grow sufficiently however they pose an integrity risk, as they can initiate long cracks (near-neutral pH SCC). These hydrogen-caused cracks in Stage I were rare. It was nevertheless suggested that cracks deeper than 0.5 to 0.6 mm in the field should be removed to reduce or avoid the threat of rupture. If active corrosion and hydrogen generation can be prevented then smaller cracks are innocuous.

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