Since the late 1980’s Ultrasonic tools have been used for the detection and sizing of crack like indications. ILI service providers developed inspection technologies for liquid and gas lines that are widely used nowadays. In comparison to axial cracking, circumferential cracking is not a prevalent risk to most pipelines and therefore is not as well understood. Nevertheless, pipeline Operators observe from time to time circumferentially oriented defects, often in combination with circumferential welds or local stress/strain accumulations. These are often caused by pipeline movement, which may especially occur in mountain areas.
With the introduction of Ultrasonic circumferential crack inspection tools in the late 2000’s the knowledge has steadily increased over time. Extensive data collected from in-ditch NDE validations has provided NDT Global with an increased knowledge of the morphology of single cracking and stress corrosion cracking defects both in the axial and circumferential orientations. Field verifications have shown that not all features have the same morphology. Some of the challenges with circumferential cracking are for features that fall outside of the industry standard specifications. These types of features can exhibit characteristics such as being sloped, skewed or tilted. In 2016 NDT Global was approached by Plains Midstream Canada to complete inspections utilizing the 10″ Ultrasonic Circumferential crack inspection technology. The pipeline system spans 188km within Canada and consists of 2 segments. The pipeline traverses several elevation changes and crosses several creeks and roads. Circumferential cracking was identified during dig campaigns performed for other threats, therefore the need to inspect each pipeline segment with the Ultrasonic circumferential technology was identified.
Plains Midstream Canada and NDT Global formed a close collaboration to assess the severity of circumferential crack features in this line. This paper will discuss integrity aspects from an Operator and Vendor perspective. Challenges identified due to the morphology of the circumferential crack like indications and derived analysis rules and interpretation methodologies to optimize characterization and sizing are presented. Finally, potential opportunities to maintain the integrity of similar assets by applying some of the findings and enhance the management and decision making process are suggested.