Design of a Steel Catenary Riser (SCR) requires the use of connection hardware to accommodate the bending moment that arises from the abrupt change in stiffness at the floater hang-off. Reliability of this connection hardware is of paramount importance in ultra deepwater applications (up to 3000m), especially those involving high pressure and temperature fluids. One type of such connection hardware is a metallic tapered stress joint. Because of its inherent density, strength, and stiffness, steel is not well suited for these applications due to the length and weight constraints. Titanium Gr. 29 (Ti), which is as strong as steel but lighter and more flexible, has been identified as a good material candidate for a tapered stress joint.
The required length (∼40ft) and thickness (∼3.5in.) of the Titanium Stress Joint (TSJ) cannot be fabricated as a single piece due to forging size limitations. Thus, an intermediate girth weld becomes necessary. The fracture and fatigue performances in the presence of the external seawater and cathodic protection (CP) and the internal sour production with galvanic effects between the Ti and steel must be assessed to verify the service life of the stress joint. ExxonMobil has developed and initiated a Joint Industry Project to fully address the fracture and fatigue qualification of titanium welds. In particular, the project plans to establish a robust methodology for the future qualification of TSJs that parallels, to the extent possible, the qualification process currently used for SCRs.
This paper discusses the primary aspects of the titanium weld qualification: (1) selection of test specimens, (2) load frequency effects on initiation and propagation lives, (3) environmental assisted cracking due to hydride formation under cathodic and galvanic conditions, (4) full-thickness small-scale fatigue, (5) size effect on fatigue, and (6) weld inspection.