In the fatigue design of steel catenary risers there are concerns regarding the fatigue damage to girth welds from low stresses, below the constant amplitude fatigue limit, in the loading spectrum and the validity of Miner’s cumulative damage rule. In both cases there is increasing evidence that current design methods can be non-conservative. These fundamental issues were addressed in a recent JIP. A key feature was development of the resonance fatigue testing rigs to enable them to test full-scale pipes under variable amplitude loading. Such tests were performed under a loading spectrum representative of that experienced by some risers, with many tests lasting over 100 million cycles to investigate the fatigue damage due to small stresses as well as the validity of Miner’s rule. However, the resonance rigs are only capable of producing spectrum loading by gradually increasing or decreasing the applied load, whereas more ‘spiky’ random load sequences may be relevant in practice. Therefore the programme also included fatigue tests in conventional testing machines on strip specimens cut from pipes to compare the two types of loading sequence. This paper presents the results of these tests, conclusions drawn and recommendations for changes to current fatigue design guidance for girth welded pipes regarding the definition of the fatigue limit, allowance for the damaging effect of low stresses and the validity of Miner’s rule.

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