Selective seam weld corrosion (SSWC) of electric resistance welded (ERW) pipelines has been identified as a potential risk to pipeline safety. Due to recent pipeline failures, where seam weld defects may have played a significant role, the National Transportation Safety Board called upon the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) to conduct a comprehensive study to identify actions that can be used by operators to eliminate catastrophic longitudinal seam failures in pipelines. Battelle contracted Kiefner and Associates, Inc. and Det Norse Veritas (U.S.A.) Inc. (DNV GL) with the objective to assist PHMSA in addressing this issue.

The objective of one of the tasks performed by DNV GL was to develop a reliable, rapid, non-destructive, field-deployable test method that can quantify SSWC susceptibility on operating pipelines containing ERW seams. For this effort, two different, field deployable, non-destructive methods were evaluated in laboratory testing. The methods were validated using a standard destructive test for assessing SSWC susceptibility. One method was based on measurement of the local potential difference between the seam weld and the adjacent base metal while the second was based on differences in the corrosion kinetics between the seam weld and the base metal. The method that is based on corrosion kinetics was found to be most effective in identifying SSWC susceptible pipe steels. It utilizes a barnacle cell to conduct linear polarization resistance measurements on small, selected areas of the pipe (e.g., the weldment or base metal). Additional laboratory as well as field-testing is planned to further validate the test method.

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