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Advantages of steel sleeves over composite materials for pipeline repair

By Bill Bruce, Director of Welding & Materials Technology and Bill Amend, Principal Engineer in the Welding & Materials Technol Pipelines International une !"## E$ternal corrosion is a ma%or concern for pipeline operators& When areas of corrosion or other damage on operating pipelines are identified, there are significant economic and en'ironmental incenti'es for performing repair (ithout remo'ing the pipeline from ser'ice& There are a 'ariety of repair strategies a'aila)le to pipeline operators for a gi'en repair situation& This article discusses the use of non*metallic composite materials and full*encirclement steel slee'es& While the use of non*metallic composite materials to repair damage has increased in recent years, the most predominant method of reinforcing damage in cross*country pipelines is to install a full*encirclement steel slee'e& The use of steel slee'es has some ad'antages o'er the use of composite materials for many applications, in terms of )oth performance and cost& The early days of full-encirclement steel sleeves The use of full encirclement steel slee'es for pipeline repair (as de'eloped during (or+ lead )y ,iefner at Battelle in the early #-."s& Prior to this, repair )y cutting out and replacing the damaged segment (as common& There are t(o )asic types of full*encirclement steel slee'e /see 0igure #1& Type A slee'es encircle the pipeline and pro'ide structural reinforcement of the defecti'e area& To do this, they do not re2uire slee'e*end fillet (elds& Type B slee'es also encircle the pipeline and pro'ide structural reinforcement, )ut since the ends are fillet (elded to the pipeline, they can also contain pressure in the e'ent that the defect is lea+ing or (ill e'entually lea+ in su)se2uent ser'ice& According to 0a(ley and 3tephens et al& the use of fi)re*reinforced composite materials for pipeline repairs (as de'eloped during (or+ at 3outh(est 4esearch Institute and Battelle in the late #-5"s& There are t(o )asic types of composite repair systems6 pre*formed /composite slee'es1 /see 0igure !1 and (et lay*up /composite (raps1&
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The use of (et lay*up systems for pipeline repair )egan in the early #--"s& These (et lay*up systems use either a resin*impregnated cloth that is acti'ated )y (ater in the field or a cloth that is saturated (ith epo$y resin in the field /see 0igure 71& Principal of operation The early (or+ )y Battelle sho(ed that steel slee'es are effecti'e )ecause they restrain )ulging, or accumulation of strain, in the defecti'e area (hile a)sor)ing only #8 to !" per cent of the hoop stress in the carrier pipe& 3teel slee'es are effecti'e )ecause the stiffness /elastic modulus1 of the slee'e material is e2ui'alent to that of the line pipe steel& The mechanism )y (hich composite materials reinforce areas of damage on operating pipelines is much more comple$& While the strength of composite materials is similar to that of line pipe steel, the elastic modulus is significantly lo(er& 0or a composite material to pre'ent a defect from rupturing, the defect must typically plastically deform in the process of the load )eing transferred to the composite& Brittle pipe material or seams may only )e a)le to tolerate a 'ery small amount of plastic strain )efore a defect in the pipe or seam gro(s and fails& 0or )oth steel slee'es and composite repairs, a high*compressi'e strength filler material is used to fill defect areas so that load is effecti'ely transferred to the repair material& With 'ery fe( e$ceptions, the applica)ility of Type A slee'es and composite repairs are similar& The t(o e$ceptions are repair of arc )urns, (here Type A slee'es can )e used (ithout complete remo'al of metallurgically altered material (hereas composite repairs cannot, and repair of hydrogen*induced crac+ing /9I:1 and )listering, (here Type A slee'es can )e used and composite repairs cannot& Both of these e$ceptions are the result of composite materials ha'ing an elastic modulus that is significantly lo(er than that of steel& As a result of the lo(er elastic modulus and the suscepti)ility of these defects to gro( upon the application of comparati'ely small amounts of strain, the composite repairs allo( these defects to strain sufficiently to cause them to fail or gro( )y fatigue& ;n the other hand, Type B slee'es can )e used to repair a (ide 'ariety of defects for (hich composite repairs cannot& Type A slee'es, Type B slee'es and composite repairs are all accepta)le for relati'ely shallo( to moderately deep e$ternal corrosion /less than 5" per cent deep1& <ery deep e$ternal corrosion /5" per cent deep or greater1 should )e repaired only using methods that are appropriate for lea+s /i&e& Type B slee'es1& Advantages and disadvantages ;ne of the claimed ad'antages of composite repairs o'er steel slee'es is that their installation re2uires no (elding to an in*ser'ice pipeline& It is clear from the discussion a)o'e that the installation of Type A slee'es, (hich can ser'e the same purpose as composite repairs, also re2uires no (elding to an in*ser'ice pipeline& Welds that do not contact the carrier pipe are not

considered to )e =in*ser'ice> (elds according to Appendi$ B of API ##"?, e'en though longitudinal seam (elds are made (hile the pipeline is in*ser'ice& Another claimed ad'antage of composite repairs is that their installation is simpler than steel slee'es& While this may )e the case for Type B slee'es (here (elding to an in*ser'ice pipeline using specially 2ualified (elding procedures and specially 2ualified (elders is re2uired, this is certainly not the case for Type A slee'es& Type A slee'es re2uire no in*ser'ice (elding, can ha'e fillet*(elded o'erlapping side strips /see 0igure ?1, and are 'ery simple to fa)ricate and install& They can )e supplied (ith the side strips fillet (elded to the )ottom half of the slee'e so that the only (elds re2uired in the field are the fillet (elds on the top of the side strips& These (elds can )e readily made )y (elders (ithout special training or 2ualification& The ra( materials re2uired to ma+e Type A slee'es are significantly less e$pensi'e than composite materials& Type A slee'es can )e fa)ricated in the field )y simply splitting a length of pipe of e2ual, diameter, (all thic+ness and grade as the line*pipe material& @nli+e composite materials, steel slee'es ha'e no finite =shelf life>& Also, the stiffness and long*term performance of Type A slee'es are e2ui'alent to that of line*pipe steel& While the long*term performance of steel is (ell esta)lished, the long term performance of composite materials on )uried pipelines )eyond a)out !" to !8years has not yet )een demonstrated& The significantly reduced stiffness of composite materials compared to steel ma+es the use of composite repairs 2uestiona)le for application to pipelines that e$perience cyclic pressure fluctuations& :yclic strains in the defect area may cause the defect to gro( and e'entually fail in su)se2uent ser'ice& Both Type A slee'es and composite slee'es rely upon the use of an effecti'e sealer to +eep potentially corrosi'e fluids /e&g& ground(ater1 from entering the cre'ice area )et(een the carrier pipe and the repair& :orrosion under Type A slee'es can )e pre'ented )y using either an elastomeric sealant or a hardena)le sealant& While Type B slee'es do ha'e to )e fillet (elded to the pipeline /see 0igure81, they can )e used (here composite repairs cannot, such as for repair of defects that are 5" per cent deep or greater, circumferentially*oriented defects, lea+ing defects or for defects that (ill e'entually lea+ /e&g& internal corrosion1, and crac+s& The ra( materials re2uired to ma+e Type B slee'es are significantly less e$pensi'e than composite materials and the stiffness and long*term performance of Type B slee'es are e2ui'alent to that of line*pipe steel& When considering the cost of 'arious repair options, )oth material cost and cost of installation need to )e considered& Mo)ilisation cost and the application cost of steel slee'es may )e highly 'aria)le, depending upon a'aila)ility and la)our rates for (elding personnel& While the mo)ilisation cost for composite repair installation may )e less in some cases, the materials are more e$pensi'e& :omposite slee'es or (et layup composite repair +its are typically designed for a standard, fi$ed length& If the length of the area re2uiring repair is longer than that (hich can )e repaired )y a single composite slee'e, the use of steel slee'es may )e significantly less e$pensi'e than composite repairs& Welding onto an in-service pipeline

A )urnthrough, or )lo(out as it is sometimes referred, (ill occur (hen (elding onto a pressurised pipe if the unmelted area )eneath the (eld pool has insufficient strength to contain the internal pressure of the pipe /see 0igure A1& A )urnthrough typically results in a small pinhole in the )ottom of (hat (as the (eld pool& The ris+ of )urnthrough (ill increase as the pipe (all thic+ness decreases and the (eld penetration increases& Welds made onto in*ser'ice pipelines tend to cool at an accelerated rate as the result of the a)ility of the flo(ing contents to remo'e heat from the pipe (all& Accelerated cooling rates promote the formation of hard (eld microstructures that are suscepti)le to hydrogen crac+ing /see 0igure .1& 9ydrogen crac+ing re2uires that three primary, independent conditions )e satisfied simultaneouslyB hydrogen must )e present in the (eld, there must )e a suscepti)le (eld microstructure, and tensile stresses must )e acting on the (eld& 3imple guidance has )een de'eloped and is a'aila)le else(here for pre'enting )oth )urnthrough and hydrogen crac+ing (hen (elding onto an in*ser'ice pipeline& The use of full*encirclement steel slee'es for pipeline repair is a relati'ely mature technology& As a result, relati'ely little is (ritten a)out the use of steel slee'es compared to the use of composites (here ne( products are continually introduced& The applica)ility of Type A slee'es is nearly identical to that for composite repairs and their installation in'ol'es no (elding to an in*ser'ice pipeline& Type B slee'es can )e used (here composite repairs cannot, such as for repair of defects that are 5" per cent deep or greater, circumferentially*oriented defects, lea+ing defects or for defects that (ill e'entually lea+ /e&g& internal corrosion1, and crac+s& 0or )oth types of full*encirclement steel slee'e, the ra( materials are relati'ely ine$pensi'e and the stiffness and long*term performance is e2ui'alent to that of line pipe steel& The installation of Type B slee'es does in'ol'e the need to (eld to an in*ser'ice pipeline& Adherence to the simple guidance summarised here (ill a'oid the potential concerns associated (ith (elding to an in*ser'ice pipeline&