Corrosion-fatigue is a significant design consideration in deepwater floating production systems. Mechanical loading is accentuated due to the compliant nature of these structures, and sour service conditions can also occur either due to the nature of the crude production or due to seawater flooding of the reservoir to enhance production yield. New high-strength riser steels have recently been developed to meet the demands of deepwater development. The objective of this study was to characterize the corrosion-fatigue resistance of these materials in terms of crack growth rates as a function of applied stress intensity factor range (ΔK), as well as cyclic loading frequency. Experiments were performed on five different steels with yield strengths ranging from 848 to 1080 MPa. Two environments were considered: seawater with cathodic protection to simulate the environment outside of the riser, and a sour brine environment with low oxygen (< 10 ppb) to simulate the environment inside the riser. Not all steels were tested in the sour brine environment since not all were designed to operate in sour service. For both environments, higher strength steels were found to exhibit higher growth rates and lower saturation frequencies. Fatigue crack growth rates as a function of ΔK were also measured, and exhibited two different frequency responses. At high ΔK, the classical frequency response occurred: decreased frequency gave increased crack growth rates. At low ΔK, an inverse frequency effect was observed: deceased frequency gave decreased crack growth rates, as well as increased corrosion-fatigue crack growth thresholds. These differences are believed to be caused by different underlying processes controlling crack growth — specifically, material-environment reaction kinetics at high ΔK, and crack closure due to corrosion-product wedging at low ΔK. The practical significance of these results is discussed, including selection of frequencies for corrosion-fatigue crack growth testing, and applicability of results to structural integrity assessments.

This content is only available via PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.