Many older pipelines contain significant residual stress due to the forming process. Cold expansion or a normalizing heat treatment can virtually eliminate residual forming stresses, but these practices were less common in the past. In the absence of cold expansion or normalization, residual forming stresses can be reduced by hydrostatic testing or operating pressures, but not eliminated entirely. Residual stresses can contribute to fracture in pipelines, particularly when the material toughness is low.
This article presents a series of analyses that seek to quantify the magnitude of residual forming stresses as well as their impact on pipeline integrity. The pipe forming process was simulated with elastic-plastic finite element analyses, which considered the effect of subsequent loading on relaxation of residual stresses. A second set of finite element simulations were used to quantify the effect of residual stresses on fracture behavior.