Abstract

Axial cracking inspections have become common place on a global level within pipeline operator’s integrity management programs. As technology continues to improve, operators are presented with more accurate assessments of the assets that are in current operation. However as more information is collected more threats are being identified and need to be assessed in a manner that is more applicable to their specific morphology. It is well known that vintage ERW manufacturing techniques can suffer from a wide range of potential threats such as lack of fusion or inclusions within the steel forming hook cracks during the rolling and welding process. Current In-line inspection technologies that are designed to detect, Identify and size cracklike flaws in pipelines are very proficient at doing so. However, due to the physical principals of the Ultrasonic pulse echo technology, deep features approaching, or above pulse echo saturation amplitudes pose challenges in determining accurate depth sizing.

In 2015 a Canadian pipeline operator determined the need to inspect one of their 16” assets for axial crack-like indications. During the analysis of this inspection data set, a number of saturated crack-like indications were reported. Saturated cracklike signals present a challenge to operators as they have to be considered in a conservative manner as 4mm or deeper which in turn leads to difficulties in the prioritization of resources associated with the excavation program.

The operator approached NDT Global in 2017, after the release of NDT Global’s Enhanced sizing depth algorithm to reevaluate the features that were present in the previous crack inspection data set. Working together with the operator, NDT Global applied the Enhanced sizing methodology to all features of significance in the pipeline segment and compared the results to lab measurements and in field NDE measurements.

The outcome of the reanalysis using the most up to date software algorithms utilizing enhanced sizing showed great benefits by increasing the accuracy of the crack depth sizing as NDT Global was now able to report full through wall depth sizing, however there were still some limitations on the ability to accurately size crack-like features as the primary threat is believed to be a result of hook cracks.

As a final step in this program NDT Global was provided sample spools that were cut out of the pipeline segment to perform a pull testing campaign utilizing the newest crack detection technology that was specifically targeted towards accurately sizing tilted and skewed crack like features.

The authors will briefly discuss the pipeline system and inspection campaign and in detail will discuss the benefits of using technology that has been developed to help pipeline operators better understand the threats in their integrity management program.

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