Low-Cycle Tearing in a Deep-Water Buckle-Arrestor Assembly Girth Weld During S-Lay Installation

Selker, Ruud (INTECSEA) | Liu, Ping (INTECSEA) | Jurdik, Erich (South Stream Transport BV) | Chaudhuri, Jay (South Stream Transport BV) | Fonzo, Andrea (RINA Consulting-Centro Sviluppo Materiali) | di Biagio, Massimo (RINA Consulting-Centro Sviluppo Materiali)


S-Lay installation of inline buckle arrestors in deep water can introduce plastic strain to girth welds. The welds are repeatedly loaded by large-strain cycles when traversing the stinger. A material-testing program was launched to assess the impact of this load sequence on the welds’ integrity. It is essential to establish the correct mechanism of crack growth caused by a limited number of sequential large-strain cycles. Segment specimens with increased specimen “daylight” length were tested. Fracture morphologies of ductile tearing and fatigue growth were distinguished; ductile tearing was identified only for the first load cycle, whereas subsequent cycles were dominated by fatigue crack growth.


The TurkStream Offshore Pipeline was developed by South Stream Transport BV (SSTTBV). It is a major gas-transmission system that currently comprises two pipeline strings installed in up to 2,200 m water depth, connecting large gas reservoirs in Russia to the Turkish gas-transportation network through the Black Sea. The system currently has a capacity to transport 31.5 bcm of natural gas annually over a distance of more than 900 km. The pipeline’s outer diameter (D) is 32 inches, and its wall thickness (t) is 39 mm. Material grade is DNV SAWL (submerged arc-welded longitudinal) 450 with supplementary requirement F, D, U, and (light) S according to offshore standard DNV-OSF101 (Det Norske Veritas, 2010) plus project-specific modifications. Pipe joints are produced by UOE (U-ing, O-ing and expansion) and JCOE (J-ing, C-ing, O-ing and expansion) pipe-forming methods. Ultra-deep water in combination with the large pipeline diameter makes this project one of the most challenging pipeline projects ever, pushing the boundaries of the industry. The first portion of the pipeline was installed in 2017–2018.