One way generally accepted by industry to evaluate the effect of sour environment on fatigue performance of girth welds is by small scale testing in sour brines. These tests are commonly done at room temperature and pressure and therefore can only contain a maximum of 14.7psia of H2S in a gaseous phase. In comparison, very little has been published about fatigue performance in sour environments where negligible amounts or no water is present. Such condition can be found for pipelines serving in a “dry” sour environment (H2S and other gases in dense phase) with high H2S concentration.
This paper documents both small scale fatigue crack growth rate (FCGR) tests and S-N fatigue tests in a dense phase sour environment with ultra-low water content and high H2S concentration under high pressure. Fatigue life reduction factors were calculated from FCGR approach (with the name crack growth acceleration factor, CGAF) and S-N approach (with the name knockdown factor), respectively.
Industry understanding today is that water is necessary for accelerating fatigue crack growth. Quite opposite to the expected effect of water content on crack growth, even ultra-low water content (<450ppm) resulted in high crack growth rates. Crack growth rates were comparable among tests with various water contents, all ultra low. Through limited testing, no temperature dependency on crack growth rate was identified. It is postulated that hydrogen dissociation due to high pressure and high concentration may be the cause for high crack growth rates on the absence of water.
Small scale S-N tests on smooth specimens reveal that fatigue performance in ultra-low-water sour environments is the same as in air. We find that the dry gas environment dose not attack the metal surface preserving the fatigue performance.