Within the corresponding commercial and R&D projects five microalloyed pipeline steel grades have recently been developed and processed to spiral-welded pipes. For steel grades X52, X65, and X70 the aimed tensile properties, improved sour service resistivity, and low temperature toughness up to −40°C were reliably achieved.
Influence of steel cleanliness, the non-metallic inclusions in particular, on sour gas resistibility has been investigated by means of ultrasonic testing of hydrogen charged HIC (Hydrogen Induced Cracking) samples and SEM (Scanning Electron Microscope) analyses of HIC fracture surfaces. The results have been used to optimize the applied process parameter in steel production and coil processing. The ladle metallurgical treatment and soft reduction were consistently applied within narrow process tolerances enabling high steel cleanness and slab centerline quality, which are both indispensable for sour service application. Subsequent TMCP (Thermo Mechanical Processing) wide strip hot rolling and cooling parameters were selected to prevent a two-phase finish rolling and to obtain a predominating acicular ferritic microstructure. For pipe production, attention was paid to minimize the residual stresses, due to both pipe-forming and welding.
The alloying approach is based on the classical sour lean NbTi steel composition, modified by varying Cu, Ni, Cr, and Mo contents to achieve the targeted specification.
The processed spiral-welded pipes were formed to diameters between 762 and 1372 mm with a wall thickness of 13.7 to 16.0 mm. CVN (Charpy V-Notch) values were higher than 360 J/cm2 and DWTT (Drop Weight Tear Test) higher than 60% SA (Shear Area) at −40°C. The samples also showed outstanding HIC resistivity. Being proved with standard test conditions according to NACE TM0284 solution A, the CAR (Crack Area Ratio) average value of pipe samples was less than 1% for grades up to X65 and less than 5% for X70 grades. The 4-point-bending SSC (Sulphide Stress Cracking) tests at 80% of SMYS according to NACE TM0177 and ASTM G39 showed no SSC cracks for all projects.
Finally, the results of one specific R&D project are presented to demonstrate that even for API X70 grade spiral-welded pipes (OD 1016×16 mm) mechanical properties, e.g. high-strength, ductility, and low temperature toughness has been successfully combined with sour service resistivity.