Failure of Coiled Tubing in a Drilling Application
Coiled tubing used in drilling operations failed at the halfway point of its estimated fatigue life. The failure was found to be transverse to the tubing axis. Visual examination revealed a flat fracture surface extending 13 mm with the rest of the fracture showing shear lips indicative of tensile overload. The flat portion of the fracture surface was typical of fatigue cracking. Fatigue striations were revealed by SEM. Corrosion pitting on the tubing ID from which the fatigue crack had propagated were observed on closer examination. The corrosion pitting was speculated to have occurred when the tubing was idle and fluids accumulated at the bottom of the tubing wraps. The coiled tubing was concluded to have failed prematurely due to low-cycle fatigue initiated at corrosion pitting sites. Corrosive attack on the coiled tubing was recommended to be reduced by completely removing fluids or modifying the fluids in the tubing or purging by flowing dry nitrogen to dry it out.