From extensive investigations for over 30 years since the discovery of near-neutral pH stress corrosion cracking (NNpHSCC), the physical processes of crack initiation and growth have been determined, despite that some details in various aspects of crack initiation and growth are still to be understood. The growth curve is a function of crack growth by direct dissolution of steels at localized areas on pipe surface during initiation or at the tip of a crack during early stage of crack growth (the dissolution growth curve), and by a process involving the interaction of fatigue and hydrogen embrittlement (corrosion fatigue, the hydrogen enhanced fatigue growth curve) in Stage II after crack initiation and early stage of crack growth. For the latter case, recent research shows that crack growth rate can be substantially enhanced by variable amplitude cyclic loading. One of the most severe scenarios of cyclic loading in terms of crack growth rate is the underload type of pressure fluctuations that is often found within 30 km downstream of a compressor station. This investigation is aimed to evaluate pressure scenarios that could reduce or retard crack growth during pipeline operation. Specifically, the effect of pressure holds was investigated. Different periods of static hold were performed to an X65 pipeline steel exposed to a near-neutral pH solution. It was found that a static hold at the maximum load for one hour immediately after a large depressurization-repressurization cycle (underload cycle) yielded the lowest crack growth rate, which was about one third of that of constant amplitude fatigue without the static hold. Static holds for a period shorter or longer than one hour have yielded higher crack growth rates. This observation can be applied to field pipelines during operations to retard crack propagation.

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