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Fatigue Testing of Pipeline Girth Welds

Steel Catenary Risers are a critical element within many offshore pipeline installations. The ability of these risers to withstand the installation and in-service loading is vital to the success of the projects in which they are utilized.

These pipelines often operate in harsh environments, and it is an economic and environmental necessity that they survive at least their full design life, which is typically around 15 years. The risers are a particularly critical part of the pipeline, especially catenary risers, which tend to have long unsupported spans.

Fatigue cracks are particularly likely to form at the surface or near-surface discontinuities, making the girth welds joining the individual section of pipe potential crack initiation sites. It is hence essential that there is confidence that the welding process will produce welds that will exhibit the necessary level of resistance to the development of fatigue cracks.

For a testing facility to successfully address a client's requirements, it is important to fully understand the objectives of the proposed test program. In the case of a fatigue test program on pipeline girth welds, many potential test variables need to be agreed upon to ensure that the objectives are satisfied.

Element has extensive expertise in the resonance method for testing joints in pipes. Several test rigs are fitted into a shipping container and allow testing at the laboratory as well as on-site.

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This paper seeks to provide an overview of the approach to the validation of the fatigue performance of pipeline girth welds. In particular, it addresses the variables that need to be considered when planning a test program to qualify such welds' fatigue performance.

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