Being able to estimate the tensile strain capacity (TSC) of vintage girth welds is sometimes necessary for the integrity management of vintage pipelines. Assessing girth weld integrity could be a top priority after a confirmed ground movement event. Decisions may also be needed about the disposition of a girth weld when weld anomalies are found. Typical fitness-for-service (FFS) procedures, such as API 1104 Annex A and API 579/ASME FFS-1, generally target materials under nominally elastic conditions and strain demands less than 0.2%. These procedures may produce overly conservative results when the strain demand exceeds 0.2%.

This paper summarizes the development and validation of a TSC estimation tool for vintage girth welds under PRCI funding. The work consisted of three components: the development of a TSC model for vintage girth welds, the implementation of the model into a software tool, and the experimental validation of the performance of the tool using curved wide plate (CWP) tests.

The TSC model was developed following the procedures established through a previous PRCI-PHMSA cofounded work. Finite element analyses (FEA) were performed to obtain a crack-driving force database while considering the salient features of vintage girth welds, such as larger weld caps and weld strength mismatch levels. The TSC model was then derived from the crack-driving force database using apparent toughness values representative of vintage girth welds.

A graphical user interface (GUI) and a user manual were developed to facilitate the application of the TSC model. The software tool produces TSC estimates based on geometry, material, loading, and flaw characteristics of a girth weld. For inputs that might not have readily available values, recommended values are provided. The tool allows the evaluation of the impact of various input parameters on TSC.

The performance of the TSC estimation tool was evaluated against eight purposely designed CWP tests. Accompanying small-scale material characterization tests, including chemical composition, round bar tensile, microhardness, and Charpy impact tests, were performed to provide additional inputs for the evaluation of the tool. The tool is shown to provide reasonably conservative estimates for TSC.

An example problem is presented to demonstrate the application of the tool. Gaps and future work to improve the tool are highlighted at the end of the paper.

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