Abstract

Several of the offshore fields in the North Sea are approaching the end of their design life and a cost-effective solution to maximize production is to document that life extension is feasible for an asset. A trend the resent years [1] is that the BOP become larger, hence the required fatigue life increases. One way to meet the increased fatigue life and external loading is to use higher strength steel to meet the design requirements set by the operators. This has motivated research related to the fatigue performance of the base material connector material both for air and under sea water with cathodic protection (CP) [2,3,4] and possible degradation of ductility and toughness in seawater with CP. However, relevant test data for wellheads material that have been in service is not to the authors knowledge, available, nor recommendations in design guidelines related to possible material degradation to be safely applied for life extension of these assets.

To better evaluate life extension of subsea wellheads, a test campaign was initiated by Equinor on a retrieved wellhead in 2015. The wellhead had been in operation since 2000 in the North Sea. The general purpose of the test program was to evaluate if the low alloy steel AISI 8630 modified material had been substantial degraded during 15 years in service compared to design material properties and the materials susceptibility to hydrogen embrittlement.

The test program performed consisted of slow strain rate testing (SSRT) to document possible reduction of strength and ductility, CTOD testing to document possible reduction in toughness and S-N testing to establish the fatigue strength reduction due to seawater with CP.

The outline of the paper is as follows: first a summary of the latest research and trends within wellhead fatigue and materials are discussed. Next, a detailed description of the test program is given: SSRT, toughness testing and fatigue testing are presented. Finally, recommendations and proposal for further research work are given.

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