Pipeline Failure Results from Lightning Strike: Act of Mother Nature?
A section of pipe in a hydrocarbon pipeline was found to be leaking. The pipeline was installed several decades earlier and was protected by an external coating of extruded polyethylene and a cathodic protection system. The failed pipe section was made from API 5L X46 line pipe steel, approximately 22 cm (8.7 in.) OD x 0.5 cm (0.2 in.) wall thickness, which was electric resistance welded along the longitudinal seam. The pressure at the time and location of the failure was 2760 kPa, which corresponds to 20% of the specified minimum yield strength. The cause of failure (based on visual inspection, magnetic particle inspection, stereoscopic analysis, scanning electron microscopy, tensile and hardness testing, and chemical analysis) was attributed to damage resulting from a lightning strike.