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ADVANCED ASSESSMENT OF PIPELINE INTEGRITY USING ILI

DATA
Ted L Anderson
Quest Integrity Group, LLC
2465 Central Avenue
Boulder, Colorado 80301
USA
ABSTRACT
Improvements in inline inspection (ILI) and computing technology, coupled with the
emergence of fitness-for-service standards, have created an opportunity to advance the state
of the art in pipeline integrity assessment. This paper describes novel approaches for
assessing cracks, wall loss, and dents in pipelines using data from ILI tools.
Crack detection ILI tools that rely on shear wave UT have improved significantly in
both detection probability and sizing accuracy. The Quest Integrity Group (QIG) employs
realistic fracture mechanics models that utilize 3D elastic-plastic finite element analysis. The
combination of advanced modeling and reliable inline inspection provides a superior
alternative to hydrostatic testing for ensuring pipeline integrity.
Inline inspection tools that measure wall loss with compression wave UT provide
superior results compared to MFL tools. The former outputs a digital map of individual
thickness readings, which is ideally suited to effective area assessment methods such as
RSTRENG and the API 579 Level 2 Remaining Strength Factor (RSF) calculation. QIG has
developed software that can rapidly process large quantities of ILI wall loss data and evaluate
the maximum allowable operation pressure (MAOP) at discrete locations. The ranking of
these MAOP values serves as a rational and rapid means for prioritizing the severity of
corrosion throughout the line.
Dents that are introduced during fabrication, installation, or by a third party are the
most common source of failure in pipelines. Traditional assessments are based on a
simplistic characterization of the dent (e.g. the ratio of the dent depth to the pipe diameter),
combined with a simple empirical equation. QIG has developed an advanced dent
assessment that combines a detailed mapping of the dent from ILI data (either UT or a caliper
pig) with 3D elastic-plastic finite element analysis. A dimensionally accurate 3D model of
the dented pipe is subjected to cyclic loading, and remaining life is computed through a
proprietary low-cycle fatigue damage model. This advanced methodology can be applied to
interacting anomalies such as dent/gouge and dent/crack combinations.
OVERVIEW
Advances in inline inspection (ILI) technology have led to enhancements in both the quality
and quantity of pipeline inspection data. Corresponding improvements in fitness-for-service
assessment methods and technology are necessary to take full advantage of inspection data
with higher resolution and higher accuracy.
The fitness-for-service standard API 579-1/ASME FFS-1 [1] provides a
comprehensive guideline for assessing various flaw types and damage mechanisms in all
pressure equipment including pipelines. This standard incorporates three levels of
assessment:
Level 1. This is a basic assessment that can be performed by properly trained
inspectors or plant engineers. A Level 1 assessment may involve simple hand
calculations.
Level 2. This assessment level is more complex than Level 1, and should be
performed only by engineers trained in the API/ASME FFS standard. Most Level 2
calculations can be performed with a spreadsheet.
Level 3. This is the most advanced assessment level, which should be performed only
by engineers with a high level of expertise and experience. A Level 3 assessment
may include computer simulation, such as finite element analysis (FEA) or
computational fluid dynamics (CFD).
These three assessment levels represent a trade-off between simplicity and accuracy.
The simplified assessment procedures are necessarily more conservative than more
sophisticated engineering analyses. With Level 1 assessments, the specified procedures must
be followed exactly, and there is little or no room for interpretation. Level 2 procedures
provide some latitude to exercise sound engineering judgment. For Level 3 assessments, the
API/ASME standard provides a few overall guidelines, but the details of the assessment are
left to the user. The lack of specificity in Level 3 is by design. There is no practical way to
codify step-by-step procedures for advanced engineering analyses because every situation is
different, and there a wide range of approaches that may be suitable for a given situation.
The combination of Level 3 fitness-for-service technology and high-fidelity ILI data
makes accurate predictions of burst pressure and remaining life feasible. In certain instances,
simplified assessments are not sufficient. In the case of crack assessments, for example,
supposedly conservative analyses have led to unconservative predictions in some cases.
Quest Integrity Group (QIG) has recently developed advanced assessment techniques
for cracks, wall loss, and dents. Level 3 assessments that incorporate elastic-plastic finite
element analysis are used for cracks and dents. We have adapted the API/ASME Level 2
assessment for wall loss in order to process large quantities of ILI compression wave UT
data. Each of these advanced assessments is described below.
LEVEL 3 CRACK ASSESSMENT AS AN ALTERNATIVE TO
HYDROSTATIC TESTING
Traditional models for crack assessment are considered conservative because they tend to
underestimate burst pressure and critical crack size. One such approach is the NG-18 method
[2], which dates back to the early 1970s and is still widely used today. So-called
conservative methods such as NG-18 can actually be unconservative in some instances, as
described below.
Hydrostatic testing has traditionally been used to protect pipelines against unexpected
failures from cracks or other planar flaws. The hydrostatic test is designed to detect critical
flaws by causing leaks and ruptures under controlled conditions. In many cases, the NG-18
equation has been used to estimate the critical flaw dimensions at the test pressure. If the
pipe passes the hydrostatic test, it is assumed that no flaws larger than the calculated critical
dimensions are present. However, this assumption is not justified because the NG-18
equation and other simplified models typically underestimate the critical flaw size.
Figure 1 shows a bell curve that represents the population of crack-like flaws in a
pipeline. If a hydrostatic test is performed on this line, cracks on the upper tail of the bell
curve will be identified, as indicated by the area shaded in red. The NG-18 equation
significantly under-predicts the critical crack size. The yellow shaded area in Fig. 1
represents the population of flaws that were predicted to fail the test but did not. In other
words, larger-than-predicted cracks are left in the pipe following a hydrostatic test.
The scenario that is schematically illustrated in Fig. 1 is demonstrated with actual data
in Fig. 2. A 16-inch Schedule 10 pipeline, which was installed in 1955, has experienced hook
crack in ERWseams. These cracks have grown over time by fatigue due to pressure cycling.
As a result of several in-service failures, the operator instituted a hydrostatic testing program
in 1991. The NG-18 equation was used to predict the critical flaw dimensions at the test
pressure. A fatigue crack propagation analysis was then performed on the calculated critical
flaw sizes in order to infer an appropriate retest interval. The most recent full-line hydrostatic
test on this pipeline was performed in 1999. The corresponding critical flaw calculation from
the NG-18 equation is represented by the blue curve in Fig. 2. This pipe was inspected by a
shear wave UT ILI tool in 2008. A total of 139 cracks were reported, 62 of which were sized
by manual UT. The measured crack dimensions for these 62 flaws are plotted in Fig. 2. The
red line represents the predicted growth of the calculated critical flaws during the 9-year
period between the full-line hydro and the ILI. Had the NG-18 equation correctly predicted
the critical crack dimensions for the 1999 hydrostatic test, none of the flaws detected in 2008
would have fallen above the red curve. In reality, however, 9 of the 62 flaws sized by manual
UT fall above the curve. According to the NG-18 method, these 9 flaws should not have
survived the 1999 hydrostatic test.
The 1970svintage NG-18 equation is incapable of accurate predictions of critical
flaw size or burst pressure. A state-of-the-art Level 3 crack analysis provides a much more
accurate reflection of reality. Quest has applied a Level 3 assessment to the 16-inch pipeline
described above. Our assessment procedure contains the following features:
Three-dimensional elastic-plastic finite element models of cracks in ERW seams.
Fracture toughness inferred from laboratory tests on samples extracted from the pipe
of interest.
Weld residual stress computed from a finite element simulation of the ERW process.
FIGURE 1. Schematic comparison of predicted and actual critical flaw size for a hydrostatic test. The
conservative analysis under-predicts the maximum flaw sizes that survive the hydrostatic test.
FIGURE 2. Comparison of predicted maximum flaw sizes that survived the 1999 hydrostatic test with actual
measured flaws following a 2008 ILI tool run. The NG-18 equation was used for critical flaw predictions.
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Crack Length, in
Comparison of Predicted and Actual Maximum Flaw Sizes in 2008
Based on the NG-18 Methodology
Computed Critical Flaw Size
(1999 Full Line Hydro)
Predicted Maximum Flaws
After 9 Years of Service
Actual Detected Flaws (2008)
Figure 3 shows a typical 3D model of a crack in an ERW seam. A total of 35 such
analyses were run for the 16-inch ERW pipe, which encompassed a wide range of crack
dimensions. Figure 4 is a repeat of the comparison between predicted and measured flaws in
Fig. 2, but with predictions based on the Level 3 assessment. The blue curve represents the
calculated critical crack dimensions for the 1999 hydrostatic test, and the red curve
corresponds to the predicted growth of critical cracks after 9 years of service. All of the
actual measured cracks fall below the red curve, which is the expected result. Note that the
Level 3 analysis in Fig. 4 predicts more crack growth in 9 years than the analysis based on
the NG-18 equation (Fig. 2). This is because large cracks grow faster than small cracks.
Since the NG-18 equation underestimated the critical crack dimensions for the 1999
hydrostatic test, the subsequent fatigue analysis underestimated the maximum possible
growth of cracks that survived the test.
FIGURE 3. Finite element model of a crack in an ERW seam. The model is symmetric.
FIGURE 4. Repeat of Fig. 2, but with flaw size predictions based on the QIG Level 3 assessment.
The 16-inch line discussed above was due for a full-line hydrostatic test in September
2009, but the operator received a temporary deferment from the US Department of
Transportation (DOT). Quest is working with the operator to validate an alternative to
hydrostatic testing that is based on a combination of ILI and Level 3 crack assessment.
Pending the results of this study, the DOT may permit the operator to permanently replace the
existing hydrostatic testing program with the alternative strategy.
Hydrostatic testing is a very expensive but ineffective means for identifying cracks
and other planar flaws in pipelines. Figure 5 schematically compares the relative
effectiveness of hydrostatic testing versus ILI. The former identifies only the largest flaws,
while the current generation of shear wave ILI tools can detect very small flaws. For
example, of the 139 reported cracks from the 2008 ILI of the 16-inch pipe, only 4 or 5 of
these cracks would have failed a full-line hydrostatic test. Given the ILI data, a Level 3
analysis can be used to establish repair criteria and re-inspection intervals. This alternative
strategy provides a greater degree of reliability at a significantly lower cost compared to the
traditional hydrostatic testing approach.
The shear wave UT ILI tool used to inspect the 16-inch ERW pipe has a 90%
probability of detection for cracks greater than 40 mils (1 mm) in depth. Thus this tool is far
more sensitive at detecting flaws compared to hydrostatic testing. However, there is still
room for improvement on flaw sizing accuracy with shear wave ILI data. In the case of the
inspection on the aforementioned 16-inch pipe, flaw depths were reported in ranges: 40-80
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Crack Length, in
Comparison of Predicted and Actual Maximum Flaw Sizes in 2008
Based on the Level 3 Analysis
Computed Critical Flaw Size
(1999 Full Line Hydro)
Predicted Maximum Flaws
After 9 Years of Service
Actual Detected Flaws (2008)
mils (1-2 mm), 80-160 mills (2-4 mm), and > 160 mils. While flaws shallower than 40 mils
(1 mm) can be detected, such indications were not reported because it is difficult to
distinguish cracks from extraneous reflections from the ERW seam.
FIGURE 5. Comparison of ILI crack detection capabilities with the ability of hydrostatic testing to identify
cracks.
FIGURE 6. Measured depths (with manual UT) of flaws reported to be within the 40-80 mil (1-2 mm) range
based on ILI UT data.
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Measured Flaw Depth, mils
Actual versus Reported Flaw Depth
40-80 mil Reporting Range
Inspection Data
Weibull Fit
Reported Depth Range
20-mil deep cracks
detected by ILI
FIGURE 7. Measured depths (with manual UT) of flaws reported to be within the 80-160 mil (2-4 mm) range
based on the ILI UT data.
Figures 6 and 7 are plots of the measured flaw depths for cracks reported in the 40-80
and 80-160 mil ranges, respectively. For flaws reported in the 40-80 mil range, the manual
UT measurements exhibit a significantly wider range of crack depths compared to the
reported range. Note that two 20-mil (0.5 mm) deep cracks were reported, which is an
indication of the high sensitivity of the ILI tool. For the 80-160 mil depth range, the
measured flaw depths generally fall within the reported range. This indicates that sizing
accuracy with ILI shear wave UT data is better for deeper cracks. Both populations of flaws
(40-80 and 80-160-mil reported ranges) follow Weibull statistical distributions. Given the
uncertainty between the actual depth of a given flaw and the reported range from the ILI data,
a probabilistic analysis is recommended.
RAPID ASSESSMENT OF METAL LOSS WITH COMPRESSION
WAVE UT ILI DATA
Metal loss in pipelines has traditionally been assessed with the ASME B31.G and RSTRENG
[3] methods. Given an ILI dataset covering several hundred kilometers of pipe, a manual
data analysis taking up to 3 months is typically performed prior to assessing the wall loss and
applying acceptance criteria. A primary purpose of this initial analysis is to identify and size
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Measured Flaw Depth, mils
Actual versus Reported Flaw Depth
80-160 mil Reporting Range
Inspection Data
Weibull Fit
Reported Depth Range
discrete corrosion flaws. In addition to the time and cost associated with this painstaking
process, a major problem with this approach is that reality seldom conforms to the ideal of
discrete areas of wall thinning surrounded by uncorroded metal. Instead, wall thickness in a
corroded pipe varies continuously over the surface; obvious discrete flaws are the exception
rather than the rule.
This reality is evident in high-resolution compression wave UT data, which, unlike
MFL data, can be displayed as a digital map of wall thickness. Figure 8 compares the ideal
of discrete flaws with a color map of actual UT wall thickness data. Part of the UT data
analysts job is to take the non-ideal wall thickness data and force-fit it to the discrete flaw
ideal. The process is often referred to as flaw boxing, as the analyst defines the length and
width of the flaw with a rectangle that contains the corresponding wall loss data. When
applying the B31.G acceptance criteria, the only measurements that are used in the
assessment are the length and width of the boxed flaw, along with the minimum measured
wall within the box. In such cases, over 99% of the wall thickness data is discarded, and a
key advantage of high-resolution UT data relative to MFL is lost.
(a) Idealized case with discrete flaws.
(b) Actual UT data. This is a 2D unwrapped plot of wall thickness.
FIGURE 8. Comparison of actual UT wall loss data with the idealized case where discrete flaws are surrounded
by uncorroded material.
The Level 2 assessment of metal loss in API 579-1/ASME FFS-1 2007 [1] is an
effective-area method that is similar to RSTRENG [3]. Flaw boxing is not required with the
API/ASME method, however. A river-bottom profile is constructed from the thickness
data, and a remaining strength factor (RSF) is computed, which can be used to compute a
maximum allowable operating pressure (MAOP). These calculations can be performed over
a short segment of pipe, or a single MAOP can be computed for an entire pipe section
between girth welds. All valid wall thickness readings are considered with this assessment
method. This approach is not only less labor intensive than flaw boxing, it is much less
subjective, and results in a more technically sound MAOP.
Quest has developed the LifeQuest
TM
Pipeline software to process and visualize data
from high-resolution compression-wave UT ILI tools, including our InVista
TM
intelligent
pigs [3]. LifeQuest
TM
performs a Level 2 API/ASME wall loss assessment over an entire ILI
dataset, and computes the RSF and MAOP for each pipe section. The areas of highest
corrosion damage can be quickly identified by ranking the calculated RSF and MAOP values.
Figure 9 is a screen shot from LifeQuest
TM
Pipeline.
FIGURE 9. The LifeQuest
TM
Pipeline software.
LEVEL 3 DENT ASSESSMENT
Pipe denting is a sufficiently complex phenomenon that Level 3 assessment technology is
warranted. Significant plastic strain occurs when the dent first forms. The pipe tends to re-
round upon pressure cycling, such that the observed deformation understates the true damage
that has accumulated in the pipe. The size, shape, and location of the original dent affect the
remaining life, as does external factors such as the constraint provided by the surrounding
soil.
In order to handle the complexities associated with dents, Quest has developed a Level 3
assessment methodology that relies on elastic-plastic finite element simulation. The
formation of the dent is simulated, along with the subsequent pressure cycling. The support
of the surrounding soil is incorporated as appropriate. The remaining life is computed
through a proprietary low-cycle fatigue damage model that has been incorporated into the
elastic-plastic finite element simulation. Dimensional data from ILI can be used to build 3D
finite element models of dented pipes. However the prior damage created during the initial
denting must be taken into account. We have performed parametric studies to infer the
relationship between the current dimensions and the as-dented configuration. Elastic-plastic
finite element simulation can also be used to model interacting anomalies, such as a crack in
a dent.
Figure 10(a) shows a typical 3D finite element model of a pipe after the formation of a dent.
Figure 10(b) shows the same model after 10 pressure cycles. Note that the pipe has re-
rounded.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
Much of the work described in this paper was funded by Koch Pipeline. The author would
like to acknowledge the contributions of his colleagues at Quest Integrity Group who have
participated in the development of the advanced pipeline assessment technology described
herein. These colleagues include Greg Brown, Devon Brendecke, Eric Scheibler, Dan
Revelle, Jim Rowe, and Greg Thorwald.
(a) Immediately after formation of the dent.
(b) Re-rounding after 10 pressure cycles.
FIGURE 10. Elastic-plastic finite element simulation of dent formation and pressure cycling.
REFERENCES
1. API 579-1/ASME FFS-1, Fitness-for-Service, jointly published by the American
Petroleum Institute and the American Society for Mechanical Engineers, June 2007.
2. Kiefner, J. F., Maxey, W. A., Eiber, R. J., and Duffy, A. R., Failure Stress Levels of
Flaws in Pressurized Cylinders. ASTM STP 536, American Society for Testing and
Materials, 1973.
3. "A Modified Criterion for Evaluating the Remaining Strength of Corroded Pipeline",
Pipeline Resarch Council International (PRCI)/AGA, Contract Number: PR-3-805,
Catalog Number: L51688.
4. Papenfuss, S., Pigging the UNPIGGABLE: New Technology Enables In-Line
Inspection and Analysis for Non-Traditional Pipelines 5
th
MENDT Conference,
Bahrain, November 2009.
.