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HPHT Materials - Push the Limit with Standardization and Innovation

Fei Tang, Martha Viteri, and Ramgopal Thodla, DNV GL

Copyright 2018, Offshore Technology Conference

This paper was prepared for presentation at the Offshore Technology Conference held in Houston, Texas, USA, 30 April–3 May 2018.

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High pressure high temperature (HPHT) technology and field development have received much attention
in recent years. Materials for HPHT environments, including ultra-high strength alloys and soft polymer
compounds will in some cases be close to their capability limits. Materials testing and qualification have
therefore been challenging for HPHT equipment design and project execution. At the same time, lower
oil prices have put cost pressures on project developments. To overcome both technical and financial
challenges while ensuring satisfactory project safety and performance, holistic and systematic solutions
promoting materials standardization and innovation are necessary. In this paper, case studies and lessons
learned from several recent and widely recognized Joint Industry Projects on subsea materials are presented.
The philosophy of materials standardization and innovation behind these efforts will be discussed and their
positive impacts on HPHT materials qualification and testing will be summarized.

After oil and gas prices slumped in 2014, cost reduction became important, and certainly more so for
HPHT project development. Conversely, as the HPHT environment become increasingly severe, materials
selection, qualification, and testing became more challenging. Therefore, the challenges facing HPHT
subsea projects are not only cost reduction, but also complex HPHT field developments, which involve
many technical issues not covered by current industry standards.
To solve the technical challenges, industry has been developing HPHT related design guidelines based
on years of R&D investment. First edition API 17TR8 technical report focusing on HPHT equipment
design methodology was released in 2015, and publication of its second edition is expected in early 2018.
Additional industry standards are in the process of integrating API 17TR8 philosophy, even though it is still
under continuous development. As described in API 17TR8 report, HPHT equipment design may require
advanced fatigue and fracture mechanics analysis, which depends on a reliable and environment specific
materials’ mechanical properties database. Building up such a materials properties database can involve
very extensive testing program, which is technically challenging, time consuming and costly. Although
much materials testing has been performed in recent years, a lack of commonly agreed materials properties
database and knowledge sharing exists across the industry. The lack of common standards and database
could adversely affect project cost control.
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In addition to materials commonly used in production environments, a need exists for innovative
materials suitable for HPHT service. High pressure conditions push material strength requirements higher,
which creates higher potential for brittle fracture at both elevated temperature and low temperature corrosive
environments. Inovative design and materials development can help, but it needs to be constrained to the
current desire for cost-reduction.
To address the cost reduction challenge, joint industry projects (JIPs) have recently been initiated to
drive standardization in subsea producton. Benefits to standardization in materials and manufacturing can
both reduce cost andexpedite project execution, which in turn can further reduce cost. In this paper, the
philosophy behind a few examples of subsea JIPs will be described, for their immediate benefits, and long
term positive impact on both cost reduction and materials technologies innovation. Following that, the
application of the same philosophy is discussed in terms of HPHT materials qualification and R&D.

Subsea materials standardization initiatives

In late 2013, an industrywide study was taken by the Societ of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) and the
Norwegian Oil and Gas association, whichidentified ey initiatives for subsea production cost reduction.
The study determined that high costs were due, in part, to each end user having their own individual
specifications and requirements, which led to long delivery times (e.g., a typical forging delivery time could
be more than 7 months). A solution was proposed to harmonize end user requirements, using standardized
processes, to reduce uncertainty and non-value added work. The benefits of these standardization measures
included the following:

• Reduce project uncertainty;

• Reduce number of qualifications;

• Consistent and repeatable fabrication processes;

• High quality of materials and welds.

Some of the subsea standardization JIP initiatives have been running or were completed in the following
areas in recent years. A more detailed discussion on subsea forging, welding and HPHT materials
characterization will be found in the following sections.

• Subsea Steel Forging

• Subsea Welding

• Subsea Project Documentation

• Subsea Equipment Certification

• Material Properties Characterization and Testing Procedure

• Material and Supplier Qualification Procedure

• Subsea Processing

Subsea Steel Forging JIP

Carbon and low alloy steel forgings are commonly used for subsea oil field components, but operator-
specific requirements delay delivery times due to redundant qualification testing for every new project.
The subsea forging JIP intended to harmonize technical and QA/QC requirements, enabling independent
forging qualification processes, and eventually leading to stock forgings available off-the-shelf without
compromisingproduct quality [1].
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The subsea steel forging JIP had participation from nine operators, five equipment OEM contractors, and
seven forging manufacturers. Phase one of the JIP was completed in early 2015, and the main deliverable
was DNVGL-RP-0034 recommended practice (RP) [2]. It specifies forging qualification and production
technical requirements for commonly used carbon and low alloy steels.
The second phase of the JIP continued development of standardized forging QA/QC requirements,
standardized inspection and test plans (ITP), and supported efficient implementation of the RP technical
requirements. The deliverable of phase two completed in early 2017 was DNVGL-RP-B202 [3],
which contains criteria, requirements and guidance on quality management of steel forgings for subsea
Both RP documents resulting from the steel forging JIP have been written for general, world-wide
application. In addition, both RPs comply with existing API industry codes for subsea equipment, such
as API 6A and API 17D, API 20B and 20C for open die and closed die forgings. The RPs provide a
common operator's standard to enable stocks of steel forgings, avoids redundant qualification for each client
or project, and provides competitive edge for high-quality forge masters under same rules. In general, the
JIP enabled knowledge sharing between contractors to improve equipment design for manufacturing. In the
long run, it will benefit all attending companies with improved efficiency, knowledge, and cost reduction.
Both RPs have been adopted within operators and contractors’ material specifications, QA/QC inspection
specifications, and equipment drawings. To provide further assistance, a steel forging advisory board has
been formed that includes industry forging experts from member companies who canrespond to questions
on RPs implementation, and collect feeback for RP revision. For example, the steel forging advisory
board created a FAQ list and some typical subsea steel forging component case studies. Through post-JIP
dialogue, operators have shown preference for assistance with qualifying forging suppliers and maintaining
a commonly trusted supply chain. Therefore, a qualification service standard of steel forging stocks and
manufactuers planned for publication in 2018 [4]. It is understood that full implementation of new RPs
has challenges, while operators and contactors streamline their specific project requirements. However,
standardized practices are expected to reduce cost, which is a core desire for new field development.

Subsea Welding JIP

Similar to steel forging, company and/or field specific welding requirements exist in addition to API,
ASME, and ISO standards. This results in additional cost, schedule, and is a barrier to innovation within
The Subsea Welding JIP was started in 2017 and had an objective similar to the Subsea Forging JIP
(i.e., to harmonize operator and contractor requirements, reduce the number of welding qualifications,
reduce project uncertainty, and eliminate non-value added work). The RP to be delievered would provide
internationally acceptable and harmonized requirements for qualification, production, and inspection on
cladding and pressure piping welding. The RP would comply and complement existing industry subsea
equipment codes. The JIP is expected to be completed in the second quarter of 2018. The following types
of welds in forged and hot iso-static pressed materials and pipes would be included in the scope of the JIP:

• Girth welds in carbon and low alloy steels

• Weld overlay and alloy 625 cladding

• Girth welds of dissimilar materials, including steels and alloy 625 buttering

• Girth welds in duplex stainless steels

The JIP guidline requirements are mostly intended for use in pressure-retainning welds exposed to
process fluids in the following subsea assemblies and equipment:
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• Subsea wellhead and tree equipment as per ISO 13628-4 or API Specification 17D

• Manifolds as per ISO 13628-15 or API RP 17P

• Flowline connectors and jumpers

Through the currently active JIP, welding best practices will be shared. Related workshops have been
conducted, including the topics of hydrogen induced stress cracking (HISC) due to alloy 625 buttering,
PWHT exemption in heavy wall welded components with proper engineering analysis and NDE inspection,
and the essential variables to be complied for duplex stainless steel piping components, and so on.

HPHT Materials Fatigue Properties Rapid Characterization JIP

Due to severe HPHT stress and temperature loading conditions and materials strength and toughness
constraints, a fracture mechanics based design approach is being pursued for HPHT subsea equipment
design. To meet the new design requirements, especially for fatigue sensitive applications, there is a
need to develop subsea material-property database in HPHT environments of interest. However, current
characterization approaches (e.g., ASTM standard testing methods) to develop the desired database are time-
consuming and expensive. Rapid screening and property-characterization methods are therefore desired.
In 2016, a study on rapid characterization of materials for HPHT applications was initiated [5]. The
study resulted a method to reduce both testing time and cost. To standardize the test procedure, a JIP has
been kicked off in 2017 to develop and validate this methodology. The objective is to efficiently build up a
database of material fatigue and fracture properties for a few standardized HPHT service environments. A
key element is to use a single specimen for rapid testing for fatigue crack growth rate and fracture toughness
The above described JIP's are just a few examples that represent standardization within the subsea sector.
Along with development of advanced materials, including metals, polymers, composites and coatings, and
related manufacturing and inspection technologies, these JIP activities are expected to continue in future

New HPHT materials development and qualification

A standardization philosophy for new HPHT materials development and qualification is expected to yield
benefit similar to the previously discussed JIPs. A new material development and program can take more
than 10 years from invention to commercialization. To apply a new material to a subsea project, extensive
materials qualification testing is expected, which increases cost and time. Unfortunately, methods and results
of a project-specific materials qualification are seldom published for the benefit of other operators and
manufacturers. In addition, redundant re-qualification of materials creates another cost, much like what is
experienced within subsea forgings and welding.
A standardized materials qualification solution requires industry technical societies, such as API, NACE
and ASME, to be the platforms for achieving consensus between operators, OEMs and sub-contractors.
The standard approach can then be beneficial in facilitating regulator review and approval of HPHT
drilling and production plans by all operators. The API 17TR8 report on HPHT is an example of this
standardization objective. In summary, following standardization recommendations can be considered on
materials qualification programs:

• Operators and suppliers all follow the same qualification principles (e.g. API 17TR8)

• Common understanding of qualification condition/environment

• Common qualification requirements for standard materials

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• Qualify materials with sufficiently wide operating range to accommodate different projects,
covering relatively wide HPHT envelope
• Encourage cooperation by JIPs

• Share knowledge and create industry-wide standards

By implementing above activities, all stake holders are expected to align their basic materials
qualification requirements. It can bring the benefits of effective cost management, and enable increased and
rapid re-use of new materials and technology by multiple operators. The standardization process may not
reduce initial materials testing cost, but should enable re-use, and hence, reduce total qualification cost by
reducing re-qualification.

New materials inspection and modeling technologies development

Besides new materials, HPHT applications may require innovative designs, materials testing, and non-
destructive inspection technologies. At the center of this innovation, materials engineering and technologies
play a key role as enablers. In promoting innovation, standardization can level competitive playing field, and
provide industry consensus and direction to push innovation limits. Standardization will continue to evolve
alongside with materials and other technology innovation. Because of the interdisciplinary nature of the
materials engineering, the lessons learnt and cooperation between ASME, ASTM, API, NACE, ASM/TMS,
ASNT, and other technical societies can be beneficial. Following are a few areas where HPHT materials
and related technologies are developing in recent years.

HPHT materials remote inspection and condition monitoring

One possible future way to mitigate the risk of materials brittle fracture under HPHT is to use sensing
technologies and internet of things. In addition to basic pressure and temperature measurement, remote
inspection of materials corrosion rate, dimension and location variation, thermal and mechanical fatigue
loads variation may be able to accessed by sensors. The inspection data, transimitted back to engineering
center, can be comboned with onshore data management and engineering analysis cabability (e.g. machine
learning technologies) resulting in faster decision-making related to condition assessment and maintenance
[6]. Before applying these advanced monitoring systems, technology qualification and validation is
recommended, in accordance with relevant industry standards, such as DNV-RP-A203 [7-9], API 17N, and

Integrated computational materials engineering (ICME) approach

ICME is a holistic approach and philosophy gaining attention in recent years, which integrates materials
database and modelling tools with equipment design and manufacturing simulation and prediction models.
Previous applications include new materials and product development in automotive and aerospace
industries. The advantages of shortened R&D and technology transfer time and cost has been realized
in some examples described in the reports issued by TMS task groups [10-11]. The essence of ICME
approach is built upon reliable materials properties database, proven scientific and engineering knowledge
and modelling of intended applications, and advanced design and analysis tools. However, O&G companies
often are not incentivized to share the materials knowledge, this may become a barrier in adoption of ICME
approach to reduce HPHT field development cost and lead time. One way to address this issue is through
standardization. Operators and contractors across the supply chain can jointly determine the furthest extent
of their pre-proprietary threshold to apply an ICME approach for HPHT materials innovation and project
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Effectively reducing HPHT materials costs and realizing other benefits of innovation requires that the subsea
oil and gas industry become more open and collaborative, especially through standardization. By embracing
standardization and collaboration approaches, HPHT materials development can bring industry-wide benefit
with transparent work process, cost reduction, confidence in materials quality, and reduced project risks.
In addition, the benefits of modern technologies and materials can be efficiently utilized through
implementation of similar approach. Standardization allows for flexibility to custom design and
manufacturing by using various standardized materials and processes, and removes the barriers for more
materials innovation.

The authors are very grateful for the valuable contribution and discussion from many colleagues in DNV
GL and companies in subsea industry.

1. Pam Boschee, Forging of Subsea Equipment, Oil and Gas Facilities, April 2015, p.28.
2. DNVGL-RP-0034, Steel Forgings for Subsea Applications, Edition February 2015.
3. DNVGL-RP-B202, Steel Forgings for Subsea Applications - Quality Management Requirements,
Edition March 2017.
4. DNVGL-SE-0241, Qualification of Steel Forgings for Subsea Applications, Edition April 2018 to
be published.
5. R. Thodla, C. Holtam, R. Saraswat, Development of a Novel Test Method to Characterize
Material Properties in Corrosive Environments for Subsea HPHT Design, Proceedings of the
ASME 2017 Pressure Vessels and Piping Conference, PVP2017-65772.
6. M. Shavandi, F. Tang, Load Monitoring and Condition Assessment of High Pressure – High
Temperature (HPHT) Subsea Facilities, Proceedings of the ASME 2017 Pressure Vessels and
Piping Conference, PVP2017-66243.
7. F. Tang, J. Ye, M. Mandeville, M. Brongers, Technology Qualification for Additive
Manufacturing of Metallic Pressure Components, the 9th International Symposium on Green
and Sustainable Technologies for Materials Manufacturing and Processing, Materials Science &
Technology 2017 Conference, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, October 8 – 12, 2017.
8. M. Mandeville, M. Brongers, F. Tang, Quality Assurance and Technology Qualification for
Additive Manufacturing of Metallic Pressure Components, Proceedings of the ASME 2017
Pressure Vessels and Piping Conference, PVP2017-65827.
9. DNVGL-RP-A203, Technology Qualification, Edition June 2017.
10. Integrated Computational Materials Engineering (ICME): Implementing ICME in the Aerospace,
Automotive, and Maritime Industries, A study organized by TMS, Warrendale, PA 15086,
11. Modeling Across Scales: A Roadmapping Study for Connecting Materials Models and
Simulations Across Length and Time Scales, A study organized by TMS and on behalf of the
NIST Material Measurement Laboratory, Warrendale, PA 15086,