There are a number of methods that are commonly used for the assessment of a girth weld containing a ‘fabrication’ defect. These range from the more generic workmanship limits through to more complex pipeline specific Engineering Critical Assessment (ECA) methodologies.

The workmanship limits stipulated in pipeline design codes can be very conservative, resulting in un-necessary and costly repairs. The ECA approach is being increasingly used to derive girth weld defect acceptance limits specific to a pipeline. These limits have been derived using either semi-analytical methods or from the results of large-scale tests conducted on pipeline girth welds. However, at present there is no one standardized method.

The guidance produced by the European Pipeline Research Group (EPRG) is an example of an established methodology based on the results of large-scale tests, while commonly used pipeline specific semi-analytical assessment methods include API 1104 and CSA Z662. Other commonly used analytical methods, which are more generic in application, include BS 7910 and API 579-1/ASME FFS-1. Application of these methods to girth welds in grade X100 pipelines has not yet been validated.

The US Department of Transportation, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) commissioned Electricore, Inc and GL Noble Denton to investigate the applicability of these ‘commonly used’ girth weld assessment procedures to grade X100 pipelines.

To facilitate this project, BP provided 10 girth welds from a full-scale operational trial of two grade X100 48in diameter pipeline test sections, following completion of the trial at GL Noble Denton’s Spadeadam test facility, Cumbria, UK. The girth welds were selected to enable the effects of material variability between abutting pipes, different heats and different manufacturers (pipe was sourced from two world class pipe mills, with the plate supply for one mill coming from two sources) to be investigated.

A substantial test program has been undertaken to fully characterize the mechanical properties of each girth weld, comprising curved wide plate (CWP), tensile, Charpy impact and fracture mechanics tests.

The results from the CWP tests have been analyzed using the procedures given in API 1104 (Option 2), EPRG, CSA Z662, BS 7910 and API 579-1/ASME FFS-1.

This paper presents an overview of the tests undertaken and a comparison of the actual test results with the predictions from the assessment methods.

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