Actually, the increase in natural gas needs in the European market, foreseen for the beginning of the next century, compels to develop new solutions for the exploitation of gas fields in remote areas. For natural gas transportation over long distances the hypothesis of a large diameter high-pressure pipeline, up to 150 bar (doubling of the actual one) has been found economically attractive, resulting in significant reduction of the transportation cost of the hydrocarbon. In this contest the interest amongst gas companies in the possible applications of high-grade steels (up to API X100) is growing. A research program, partially financed by E.C.S.C. (European Community for Coal and Steel), by a joint co-operation among Centro Sviluppo Materiali (CSM), S.N.A.M. and Europipe in order to investigate the fracture behaviour of large diameter, API X100 grade pipes at very high pressure (up to 150 bar) has been carried out.

This paper presents: the current status of technology of API X100 steel with respect to the combination of chemical composition, rolling variables and mechanical properties the results obtained from West Jefferson tests, in order to confirm the ductile-brittle transition behaviour stated from laboratory tests (DWTT), the results obtained concerning the control of long shear propagating fracture and in particular the results of a full scale crack propagation test on line operating at very high hoop stress (470 MPa). Besides, in order to investigate the defect tolerance behaviour of the pipe with respect to axial surface defect, burst tests with water as pressurising medium have been carried out and the relative results are presented and discussed.

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