A time-delayed failure due to stress-activated creep (cold-creep) will occur if the applied load is held constant at a level above the threshold. The results of small and full-scale tests on line pipe steels conducted by the Battelle Memorial Institute and the British Gas Corporation in the 1960s and 70s indicated that the (empirical) threshold for a time-delayed failure was approximately 85–95% SAPF (straight-away-pressure-to-failure). The line pipe steels were Grades X52 or X60, and the full-size equivalent Charpy V-notch impact energy (where reported) did not exceed 35 J.

The strength and toughness of line pipe steels has significantly increased over the decades due to developments in steel-making and processing. The question then is whether an empirical threshold based on tests on lower strength and lower toughness steels is applicable to higher strength and higher toughness steels.

A Tripartite Project was established to answer this question. The Australian Pipelines and Gas Association (APGA), the European Pipeline Research Group (EPRG) and the Pipeline Research Council International (PRCI) collaborated in conducting six full-scale step-load-hold tests on higher strength and higher toughness steels. Companion papers present the other aspects of this multi-year project. The line pipe supplied for testing is summarised below.

• Identifier — Dimensions and Grade — f.s.e. Charpy V-notch impact energy at 0 C

• APGA [A] — 457.0 × 9.1 mm, Grade X70M, ERW — 263 J

• EPRG [E] — 1016.0 × 13.6 mm, Grade X70M, SAWL — 165 J

• PRCI [P] — 609.6 × 6.4 mm, Grade X65, SAWL — 160 J

Six step-load-hold tests, each with four part-through-wall defects, were conducted. Test Nos. APGA 1 and 2, and Nos. EPRG 1 and 2 were conducted at Engie, France. Test Nos. PRCI 1 and 2 were conducted at EWI, USA. The full-scale tests, and associated small-scale testing, are described and discussed.

A time-delayed failure due to stress-activated creep occurred in each of the step-load-hold tests. The failures occurred during a hold-period at 93.7–104.4% SAPF, after a hold of approximately 1.0–13.9 hours. The results of the six step-load-hold tests are consistent with a threshold for a time-delayed failure of approximately 90% SAPF.

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