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Pipeline Failure

A metallurgical failure analysis was requested on a 10¾ inch pipe involved in a pipeline failure. Metallurgical failure analysis included visual and photographic examination, mechanical property evaluation (yield and tensile strength), surface and core hardness, radiographic inspection, scanning electron microscopy (SEM), energy dispersive spectroscopy (EDS) of the retained corrosion product, longitudinal and transverse metallographic examination, x-ray diffraction and chemical analysis of the subject pipeline steel.

The through-wall perforation occurred at approximately the 6:00 o'clock position with 12:00 o'clock denoted as the top in the installed position. The pipeline, in the vicinity of the through-wall perforation, exhibited numerous other pits less than the pipe-wall thickness. Energy Dispersive Spectroscopy (EDS) indicated the strong presence of chlorine on the pit surface within corrosion product in the pits with lesser depths. Metallographic examination of the pipeline revealed a less than desirable pipe microstructure.  However, this was probably not the cause of the rupture.

Failure of this pipeline was the result of chloride corrosion possibly assisted by hydrogen sulfide. The corrosion, which was internally initiated, was proceeded by a pitting mechanism.

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J.E.I. Metallurgical, Inc.

5514 Harbor Town
Dallas, Texas 75287

Phone: (972) 934-0493
Fax: (469) 737-3938

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