In order to meet the increasing worldwide energy demand, there is a need to economically develop remote oil and gas resources. Construction of pipelines is required to connect these resource locations to markets. Such pipeline routes may cross areas of large ground motions such as regions of active seismicity, discontinuous permafrost, and offshore ice gouging. All of these features can subject pipelines to significant longitudinal strains. For these conditions a strain-based design (SBD) approach may be required to maintain pipeline integrity.
Welding technology is a key component of pipeline construction. Significant pipeline construction cost savings are enabled with the use of higher strength steels (X80+). Higher strengths enable reduced pipe wall thicknesses, which reduces both weight and girth welding time. However, robust welding technology for high strength SBD pipelines remains challenging. Such applications demand welds with both high strength (>120ksi) and low temperature (−15°C) toughness, combinations that are at the limits of, or beyond, existing commercial technology. This paper discusses the development of an enabling welding technology which offers a superior combination of strength and toughness properties.
An iron-nickel (FeNi) martensitic weld metal with a refined mixed cellular microstructure has been developed as a promising high strength weld metal that can be applied for field pipeline construction. This paper describes how this technology has been applied to create welds for X80 strain-based pipelines requiring significant weld strength overmatch and superior ductile tearing resistance. The welding technology can also be applied to X70 grade strain-based pipelines where high toughness is required. This approach has been developed for mainline girth, tie-in girth, and girth repair welding scenarios. Welding procedures are discussed and examples of the mechanical properties achieved and calculated strain capacities are described.