Improvements in in-line inspection (ILI) technology have led to an increase in the probability of detection and ability to characterize geometric features such as wrinkles, the assessment of which was introduced into CSA Z662, “Oil & Gas Pipeline Systems”, in the 2015 version.

The CSA wrinkle acceptance limits are based predominantly on fatigue assessment criteria; part of the assessment procedure is confirmation that wrinkles are free from associated cracking. In practice, this often restricts the assessment to wrinkles that have already been investigated in-field and where the absence of cracking has been confirmed by non-destructive examination (NDE).

This paper describes the assessment of a series of wrinkles that exceeded the CSA height criteria, reported by ILI within field bends in an insulated liquid pipeline. Strain-based assessment, supported by in-field investigations, was used to investigate the likelihood of associated cracking.

Utilizing the high resolution caliper ILI tool data, three-dimensional profiles of the wrinkles were generated. Previous work that compared “tool-measured” with “field-measured” profiles identified that caliper tool measurements can underestimate the true depth and profile of wrinkles, this effect is more pronounced for particularly sharp wrinkles. The wrinkle profiles were therefore adjusted based on the historical field-tool correlation. Strain profiles were then calculated using the guidance within ASME B31.8 Appendix R. It was identified that the majority of the wrinkles exceeded the 6% strain limit commonly applied to dents.

One field bend containing multiple wrinkles was subsequently excavated in order to gather detailed profile information and to inspect for cracking. Upon excavation, the wrinkles were not visually apparent, but their presence was confirmed following removal of the insulating coating. Profile information was subsequently recorded using laser scanning technology. In addition, NDE confirmed the absence of cracking, despite the fact that the majority of wrinkles were associated with strain levels that exceeded the CSA limiting value, 6%. The laser scan data were then compared with the adjusted “tool-measured” profiles. It was observed that the adjusted measurements based on the ILI tool data were conservative, and in some cases excessively so. The caliper measurements were optimized by identifying a factor that could be systematically applied to the “tool-measured” wrinkle profiles, which provided consistency with the profiles measured by the laser scan, thereby improving the accuracy of the dimensions and strain estimation of the remaining (non-excavated) wrinkles.

Finally, a S-N based fatigue assessment was performed using operational cyclic pressure data and estimates of the stress concentration factors associated with the wrinkles. The calculated fatigue lives exceeded the expected operational life of the pipeline.

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