Examination of a Blistered and Cracked Natural Gas Line
A welded natural gas line of 400 mm OD and 9 mm wall thickness made of unalloyed steel with 0.22C had to be removed from service after four months because of a pipe burst. Metallographic examination showed the pipe section located next to the gas entrance was permeated by cracks or blisters almost over its entire perimeter in agreement with the ultrasonic test results. Only the weld seam and a strip on each side of it were crack-free. Based on this investigation, the pipeline was taken out of service and reconstructed. To avoid such failures in the future, two preventative measures may be considered. One is to desulfurize the gas. Based on tests, however, the desulfurization would have to be carried very far to be successful. The second possibility is to dry the gas to such an extent as to prevent condensate, and this corrosion, from forming no matter how low winter temperatures may drop. This measure was ultimately recommended, deemed more effective and cheaper.