Based on the appreciable progress being made in quality control and assurance technology for the electric resistance welding process, the number of applications for high-frequency electric resistance welded (HFW) linepipe in highly demanding, severe environments, such as offshore and sour environments, has gradually increased. Resistance to hydrogen-induced cracking (HIC) is the most important property for a linepipe to possess for use in sour environments. However, resistance to HIC, especially along the longitudinal weld seam, has not yet been fully related to metallurgical factors.

In this study, to clarify the effects of inclusions on the sour resistance properties of X60- to X70-grade steels, their resistances to HIC were numerically simulated. For the simulation, the steels were assumed to have a yield strength of 562 MPa and a tensile strength of 644 MPa. To estimate the effect of nonmetallic inclusions, a virtual inclusion was situated at the center of a 10-mm-thick HIC test specimen. Tests were performed using NACE test solution A.

The crack propagation rate was calculated as a function of the content of diffusible hydrogen, the diameter of the inclusion, and the fracture toughness of the matrix after hydrogen absorption. In the propagation calculation, the resistance to chemical reactions at the interface of the inclusion matrix was also considered to be a delaying factor. By assuming a resistance to chemical reactions at the interface, the crack propagation rate could be fitted to the actual HIC propagation rate.

Based on the numerical simulation results, HFW linepipe with a high-quality weld seam was developed. Controlling the morphologies and distributions of oxides generated during the welding process is the key factor for improving the resistance to HIC. Using a combination of optimized chemical composition, microstructure and oxide content, the weld seam of the developed X70-grade HFW steel pipe showed excellent resistance to HIC.

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