Abstract

Pipeline dents have historically been regulated and assessed using dent depth as the primary metric. Many of the earliest analytical models for dent remaining life are based upon depth. Current assessment guidelines from ASME and the Code of Federal Regulations utilize depth as a primary metric. Consequently, ILI geometry tool capabilities are stated in terms of dent depth. However, the best modern dent assessments, including both strain and fatigue assessments, are based on dent shape. At a minimum, these models require both axial and circumferential dent profiles, or the models may utilize the full three-dimensional shape of the dent. The utilization of advanced dent assessments is expected to grow in the future as the methods are incorporated into API Recommended Practices and US regulations. While operators may have confidence in the ability of an ILI tool to confidently capture the dent depth, the shape of a dent is a recent consideration that is not addressed by current tool specifications. Unlike depth alone, dent shape is often a function of sensor coverage, speed, and caliper technology. Unfortunately, there is virtually no information available on the reliability of these assessment methods when they are based on ILI data. To-date, there have been no published comparisons examining the variation in strain or fatigue life in identical dents between multiple inspections. The reliability of these dent assessment methods is critical when choosing safety factors or reinspection intervals. This study presents a first look at the repeatability of strain and remaining life assessments based on two separate geometry inspection using different technologies. The study examines dent strain according to ASME B31.8 and fatigue life calculated using shape factors and finite element methods for 257 dents. The paper examines the variation in each of the methods and provides guidance on how users should understand the results when they are based on a single geometry inspection.

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