Worldwide oil and natural gas reserves can be classified as either sweet or sour service. The sour service classified oil and natural gas reserves contain some level of H2S making the product flowing through a steel pipeline corrosive. Due to this, the majority of the oil and natural gas reserves that have been drilled are of the sweet service nature. However as demand continues and supplies change, many of the remaining oil and natural gas reserves contain the H2S component and are of a sour service nature. These oil and natural gas reserves containing the H2S component through a corrosion mechanism will allow for diatomic hydrogen — in the presence of moisture — to disseminate to monatomic hydrogen and diffuse into the pipeline steel microstructure. Depending on the microstructure and level of cleanliness the monatomic hydrogen can become trapped at areas of high residual stress, recollect to diatomic hydrogen and creating partial pressures that exceed the tensile strength of the steel resulting in cracking. Therefore transmission pipelines are being built to transport sour service oil or natural gas requires steels with hydrogen induced cracking (HIC) resistance. Alloy designs, steel making processing, continuous casting, plate or strip rolling, pipe forming, and last not least corrosion testing are all key components in producing pipeline steels that are resistant to HIC applications and meeting the NACE TM0284 specifications. However, producing steels that have good HIC performance do not necessarily meet other mechanical property requirements such as strength and YT ratios. Balance has to be achieved to meet not only the HIC requirements but the other required mechanical properties. Mastering this complex HIC process poses a serious challenge to pipe producers and their primary material suppliers. The capability of producing HIC steel grades according to critical specifications and/or standards clearly distinguishes excellent steel producers from good steel makers. This paper will discuss the basics of the hydrogen induced cracking phenomenon, the requirements of the NACE TM0284 specification and give guidelines for steel production of API pipeline steels that not only can meet the specification requirements the NACE testing but also fulfill the other mechanical property requirements.

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