Welded connections are a fatigue sensitive location for offshore steel catenary risers. The susceptibility to fatigue is due to the notch effect of the weld and the gradient in microstructure and material properties across the weld which result from welding thermal cycles and differences in the composition of the parent material and weld metal.
In this work, a representative full-scale steel catenary riser girth weld is conducted using X100Q steel. The thermal and strain history in the weld zone are captured using a thermocouple and strain gauge array. A parallel programme of Gleeble thermomechanical simulation is implemented to develop microstructurally uniform heat affected zone (HAZ) test specimens. The parent material, weld metal, simulated HAZ and a cross-weld sample are characterised using a programme of nanoindentation, tensile and fatigue testing.
A softened region with microstructure corresponding to intercritical HAZ (ICHAZ) is identified in the girth weld. Tensile and fatigue failures are shown to occur in a representative microstructural region for simulated HAZ specimens, indicating a susceptibility to failure in the ICHAZ for matched or over-matched X100Q welds.