The petrochemical industry is very interested in the sour service fatigue performance of girth welded steel pipes. As a result several papers are published every year addressing this issue, and several Joint Industry Projects (JIP) are currently underway addressing different aspects of sour service performance of steel pipelines. To date research work has focused on quantifying the fatigue performance via small scale specimens due to the difficult and danger in dealing with H2S. Currently a JIP is underway that promises to provide full scale fatigue performance of pipeline welds under sour service.
This paper documents the knockdown-factor-on-life (KD) determination for full scale sour service testing. In an industry first, a very difficult full scale sour service test was performed: 1) High Pressure, 2) High content of H2S, 3) Dense phase gases with ultra low water content (less than 400 ppm), and 4) Loading rate of 0.01 Hz. The loading was applied in full longitudinal tension. The full scale sour tests are compared with full scale in-air tests to obtain the knockdown factor. Resource constraint limited the number of full scale tests to 3.
The main objective of the tests for the practical application was to ensure that the usage of crack growth based knock-down factors, i.e. the use of Fatigue-Crack-Growth-Acceleration-Factor (FCGAR) from small scale fracture mechanics specimens, was reasonable and conservative.
Some additional comparisons are done with crack-growth based knockdown factors that may help explain the effect of the ultra-low water concentration. Knockdown factors from small scale crack growth specimens, Fatigue-Crack-Growth-Acceleration-Factor = 60 (FCGAR), are significantly higher than the full scale results, KD = 7. The ultra-low-water dense phase gases do not pit the surface, thus leaving the initiation life relatively intact. The knockdown factor for the full scale test is then mostly the result of the accelerated crack growth that occurs once a macro-crack nucleates.