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Metallurgical Failure and Vintage Materials Analysis

Utilizing a multidisciplinary approach to detect root causes of pipeline failures and provide the resources to better manage identified threats.

Unfortunately, pipeline failures are bound to occur from time to time. They are not only costly and disruptive to operations; they can cause extensive property damage and severely impact human lives. Comprehensive analysis of each pipeline failure is critically important to operators and the pipeline industry as a whole. The primary aim of these efforts is identifying the metallurgical cause of the failure, with the work often being performed by metallurgists to determine and fully document the root cause(s) of the incident.

At Stress Engineering Services, we realize that solving technically challenging problems often requires a multidiscipline effort involving metallurgists, mechanical/structural engineers, testing engineers, and field personnel. We utilize our vast industry experience and skill sets to expertly analyze damage mechanisms that can cause systemic pipeline failures, such as defective girth and seam welds, corrosion, stress corrosion cracking, dents, and wrinkle bends.

Our goal is to provide an enhanced perspective by building on lessons learned from failure investigations and utilize insights gained from studying why pipelines fail so that future operations are not limited by the potential for future failures. To accomplish this objective, Stress Engineering employs its Engineering-Based Integrity Management Program (EB-IMP®), a five-step fitness for service assessment process that includes numerical modeling, full-scale testing, and development of repair solutions.

Vintage Materials Analysis

The methods that were used to construct the pipeline must also be carefully considered when determining the cause of a failure. Vintage pipelines (older than 50 years) were typically constructed using construction processes and practices different from those used today. Those practices regularly induced various types of systemic defects in pipelines. Examples of historical construction practices that may cause integrity concerns include low-quality girth welds, dents, arc strikes, and wrinkle bends.

Our engineers and metallurgists have been assisting pipeline operators around the world by helping them evaluate threats associated with systemic anomalies throughout their pipelines to make them safer for the future.