In recent past, there have been unforeseen sour service pipeline failures in the oil and gas industry. Sub-optimal microstructure resulting in high hardness (above 250 HV10) in pipeline steel is one of the root causes of such failures. Poor girth weld quality is another leading cause which adversely affects pipeline integrity and safe operations in sour environments. While advancements in welding technologies have led to consistency in production girth welds, effects of welding parameters on performance of carbon steel pipeline girth welds for sour service are not well understood. So, a systematic study is needed to understand the effects of various welding parameters on weld properties and performance.

This paper aims at evaluating the effects of various welding parameters on performance of girth welds to provide welding practice guidelines for sour service pipeline applications. In this effort, several welds on X65 grade line pipe girth welds using commercially available welding consumables were made to study the effects of preheat, hot pass tempering, copper backing, root pass heat input, wire consumable chemistry, single vs. dual torch, metal transfer mode, pipe fit-up (root gap, misalignment), on weld root performance. Detailed microhardness mapping and microstructural characterization were conducted. It was evident that the welding parameters studied have a significant impact on root performance. While preheat and pipe fit-up showed most significant impact on weld root performance, other parameters also affected the root performance by varying degree. Based on these results, recommendations for industry are provided to improve reliability of pipeline girth welds in sour service application.

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