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The EPRG guidelines on the assessment of

defects in transmission pipeline girth welds


Dr. rer. nat. Gerhard Knauf and Dr. Phil Hopkins

published in 3R international 10-11/1996


Vulkan-Verlag GmbH, Essen
Contact: N. Hlsdau (Tel. 0201/82002-33, E-mail: n.huelsdau@vulkan-verlag.de)

620

3R international 35 (1996) Heft 10/11 Oktober/November

The EPRG guidelines on the assessment of


defects in transmission pipeline girth welds
EPRG-Richtlinie zur Beurteilung von Fehlern in Rundschweinhten bei
Fernleitungsrohren

Summary
The EPRG guidelines on the assessment of defects in transmission pipeline
girth welds are based on literature reviews, an extensive laboratory test programme, published experimental data
and accepted tness for purpose methodologies. The guidelines are structured in three tiers and specify defect
acceptance levels in Tier 1 (good workmanship) and defect limits in Tiers 2 and
3 (tness-for-purpose). The application
of current welding standards can lead to
quite different defect limits, but the
EPRG guidelines provide uniform acceptance levels and defect limits, with a
comprehensive technical justication.

Zusammenfassung
Die EPRG-Richtlinie zur Beurteilung
von Fehlern in Rundschweinhten bei
Fernleitungsrohren wurde auf Basis von
Literaturrecherchen, einem umfangreichen Versuchsprogramm, verffentlichten Versuchsergebnissen, und Berechnungen erstellt. Die Richtlinie ist in drei
Stufen (Tier 1 bis 3) unterteilt und speziziert in Tier 1 nach dem Stand der
Technik erlaubte Schweinahtfehler
und in Tier 2 und 3 aufgrund von Berechnungen maximal zulssige Fehlergren. Die Anwendung der zur Zeit
gltigen Normen zur Beurteilung von
Schweinhten kann zu deutlich unterschiedlichen zulssigen Fehlergrenzen
fhren. Die EPRG Richtlinie benennt
einheitliche Fehlergrenzen auf einer
umfangreichen technischen Grundlage.

Dr. rer. nat. Gerhard Knauf


* 20. November 1951 in Duisburg
Mitarbeiter der Abteilung Mechanik, Oberchentechnik, Werkstoff- und Bauteilprfung der Mannesmannrhren-Werke AG,
Mannesmann-Forschungsinstitut, Duisburg; Tel. (0203) 9993160.

Dr. Phil Hopkins


* 26. September 1951 in Hudderseld/England
Business Manager of British Gas, Gas Research Centre,
Loughborough/England; Tel. (0044/1509) 283227. Member of
European Pipeline Research Group, American Gas Association,
British Standards Committee and the Institute of Gas Engineers.

pose methods [5]. Additionally, the standards require the repair of non-planar
defects such as slag or porosity, which
are generally accepted as innocuous
[6], and consider many planar defects
unacceptable despite them having high
failure stresses even under the most severe loadings at low temperatures [7].
The European Pipeline Research
Group (EPRG) considered these dis-

Table 1: Summary of the technical basis of the EPRG guidelines


Tafel 1:

Zusammenfassung der technischen Grundlagen der EPRG-Richtlinie

Introduction
Pipeline girth welds have a good operating record, and are not a major
cause of pipeline failure [1]. The welds
are fabricated to stringent standards,
e.g. API 1104, BSI 4515, CSA Z182 [2
to 4]. The defect acceptance levels in
these standards vary signicantly even
when they are based on tness-for-purThe authors would like to thank the members of the EPRG sub-committee Weld Defects for their assistance, and Professor R.
Denys of University of Gent for assisting in
the production of the current EPRG guidelines.

crepancies, and the absence of universally accepted defect acceptance levels, and decided to produce independent guidelines. It commissioned literature reviews [5, 6] and conducted an extensive laboratory programme of small
scale and full scale tests [7].
The philosophy adopted for setting
pipeline girth weld defect limits is novel.
It requires a girth weld to meet a mini-

Tier 2

Tier 3

Shape/prole defects BSI 4515 [3]

Tier 1

BSI 4515 [3]

BSI 5415 [3]

Undercut

BSI 4515 [3]


API 1104 [2]

Wide plates
[9, 10]

Full scale tests


[7, 12 to 16]

Planar defects

BSI 4515 [3]


API 1104 [2]

Wide plates
[9, 10]

Full scale tests


[7, 12 to 16]

Non-planar defects

BSI 4515 [3]

BSI 4515 [3]


BSI PD 6493 [11]

BSI PD 6493 [11]


Full scale tests
[7, 12 to 16]

Interaction criteria

BSI 4515 [3]

BSI 4515 [3]


BSI PD 6493 [11]

BSI PD 6493 [11]


Full scale tests
[7, 12 to 16]

Accumulation criteria BSI 4515 [3]

BSI 4515 [3]


BSI PD 6493 [11]

BSI PD 6493 [11]


Full scale tests
[7, 12 to 16]

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621

Table 2: Requirements for defect acceptance levels (Tier 1), and defect limits (Tiers 2 and 3)
Tafel 2:

Anforderungen fr zulssige Schweinahtfehler (Tier 1) und zulssige Fehlergren (Tiers 2 und 3)


Type of requirement

Geometry

Wall thickness (t)

Tier 1(A)

7 t 25.4 mm

7 t 25.4 mm
wall thickness outside this
range by agreement

3 mm (single weld run)

Defect height
Additional
remarks
Toughness

Strength

Surface breaking non planar defects should be treated as planar defects


Only girth welds between pipes of equal thickness
40 J
30 J

Charpy and CTOD values for


the weld at minimum design
temperature

CVN - Average
CVN - Minimum

Cross weld tensile tests with


weld reinforcement removed

Acceptable if the specimen breaks in the base material or when it breaks in the weld metal with
a tensile strength the specied minimum tensile strength (SMTS)

Sub-size specimen have toughness requirements reduced pro


rata with their dimensions
CTOD - Average 0.15 mm
CTOD - Minimum 0.10 mm

SMYS (pipe) 483 MPa

Yield strength (YS)


Yield strength matching

Tests can be carried out by


special agreement to ensure
that YS(weld) YS(pipe)

Y/T (pipe) 0.85

Additional remark

Only girth welds between pipes of equal grade

Applied strain/stress

strain 0.5 %

Additional remark
NDT

YS(weld) YS(pipe)
Measurement of the yield strength, location, type, and number
of specimen by agreement
Y/T (pipe) 0.90

Yield to ultimate tensile


strength ratio (Y/T)
Loading

Tier 3(B)

Tier 2

stress YS(pipe)

Onerous fatigue duty, or servere environmental effects are not included

Non destructive testing

100 % non destructive testing of pipeline girth welds

(A)

Alternatively existing company standards, CEN standards, API 1104, or BSI 4515 within their known and their dened limitations may be
used
(B) The user can specify other Engineering Critical Assessment (ECA) methods based on documented tness-for-purpose calculation, or
appropriate tests

mum toughness requirement [8, 9], then


defect limits based on limit load/net section collapse calculations can be used.
This document species both defect
acceptance levels (Tier 1) and defect
limits (Tiers 2, 3). Acceptable defects
(Tier 1) are those considered by welding workmanship standards not to require repair. Unacceptable defects will
require some remedial action, to maintain good workmanship, but may not affect the tness-for-purpose of the weld.
The defect limits (Tiers 2, 3) detailed
below, are unlikely to be acceptable to
most workmanship standards, but do
not affect the tness-for-purpose of the
girth weld and hence do not require repair. Defects outside these limits will require repair because they will affect the
tness-for-purpose of the weld.
The technical background to these
guidelines and their full justication is
given in references [5 to 10]. They make
full use of accepted international codes
[2, 3] and new data as listed in table 1.
It should be noted that the guidelines
make extensive use of published experimental data. Consequently, parts of the
guidelines are restricted by empirical
limits. For example, most of the data
were from pipes of wall thickness between 7 and 25 mm, and most of the
data were on welds whose yield
strengths were higher than for the par-

ent materials. Additionally, only limited


data on high yield to tensile strength ratio linepipe steels are available. It is likely that restrictions in these guidelines
caused by these empirical limits will be
relaxed as further data becomes available.

EPRG guidelines: good workmanship level (Tier 1)


The defect acceptance levels used in
Tier 1 can be from recognised, appropriate and acceptable transmission
pipeline girth welding codes. Existing
company standards, a CEN standard,
API 1104, or BSI 4515 would be appropriate, providing they are used within
their known and their dened limitations.
The Tier 1 acceptance limits detailed
below can be applied to pipeline girth
welds if geometrical, toughness and
strength requirements are fullled.

their dimensions. The number of toughness specimens, their orientation and


location will be specied by the Responsible Engineer, and take due account of
the welding parameters, pipeline, its operation and the weld defects expected.
Cross weld API tensile tests shall be
carried out, with the weld reinforcement
removed. The tests are acceptable if the
specimens fail in the pipe material or if
the specimens break in the weld metal
with a tensile strength greater than the
minimum specied tensile strength of
the pipe material. Additionally, and by
agreement, further tests can be carried
out to ensure that the yield strength of
the weld is equal to, or greater than, the
yield strength of the pipe material.
Pipelines subjected to onerous fatigue duty, or severe environmental
loading or effects may require higher
levels of acceptance which are not included in these guidelines.
Tier 1: Defect acceptance levels

Tier 1: Requirements
Tier 1 requirements are given in
table 2. The required minimum Charpy V
energy of the weld at the minimum design temperature (40 J average, 30 J
single value) is valid for full size specimens. Sub-size specimens have toughness requirements reduced pro rata with

The defect acceptance levels for Tier


1 are mainly based on acceptance levels given in API 1104 [2] and BSI 4515
[3]. The acceptance levels are specied
for individual and accumulated defects
in terms of maximum defect depth and
length. In the case of non-planar defects the percentage of these defects in

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3R international 35 (1996) Heft 10/11 Oktober/November

Table 3: Defect acceptance levels (Tier 1), and defect limits (Tiers 2 and 3); prole, concavity and undercut
Tafel 3:

Zulssige Schweinahtfehler (Tier 1) und zulssige Fehlergre (Tiers 2 und 3); Prol, Wurzelrckfall und Einbrandkerben

Type of defect

Tier 1
Acceptance criteria

External Prole

Excess weld metal should be uniform and not more than 3 mm in height. It should merge smoothly with
the parent metal and not extend beyond the original joint preparation by more than 3 mm on each side.
No area should have the weld face lower than the adjacent pipe surface.

Internal Prole

The root bead or any concavity should merge smoothly into the adjacent surface but at no point should
the weld be thinner than the pipe thickness.

Root Concavity

Tier 2
Limit criteria

Length

25 % weld circumference

Depth
Undercut (cap)

1.5 mm or 0.1 t (lesser)

Length 50 mm

7xt

Total 50 mm in 300 mm or
15 % circumference (lesser)
Undercut (root)

Length 25 mm

Figure 1

7 x t in any 300 mm

Depth 1 mm or 0.1 t (lesser)

the projected weld area on the radiograph is limited.


Acceptance criteria are summarized
in tables 3 to 5 for weld geometry, planar
and non-planar defects, accumulation,
as well as interaction of these defects.
Table 3 summarizes acceptance levels for prole, concavity and undercut
defects. In table 4 the acceptance levels
for planar defects and non-planar defects are listed. Care should be taken in
using the limits for non planar defects.
The Engineer should ensure that the
presence of any non-planar defect does
not mask the presence of a more severe
defect.
Interaction and accumulation criteria
are given in table 5. Root concavity is
not included in accumulation calculations, unless it causes the weld thickness to be less than that of the pipe.

Figure 1

7 x t in any 300 mm
7xt

Total 25 mm in 300 mm or
8 % circumference (lesser)
Undercut (cap, root)

Tier 3
Limit criteria

EPRG guidelines: Fitness-forpurpose levels (Tiers 2 and 3)


Tiers 2 and 3 defect limits are beyond
good workmanship limits. Although
such defects are unacceptable according to Tier 1 they do not affect the tness-for-purpose of the girth weld, if
they are within Tier 2 or Tier 3 limits. The
Tier 2 and Tier 3 limits given below can
be applied to pipeline girth welds providing the Tier 1 requirements and additional requirements are satised.
Tier 2 and Tier 3: Requirements
Tier 2 and Tier 3 are listed in table 2.
In addition, and as distinct from Tier 1,
there are restrictions in wall thickness
(7 t 25.4 mm), yield to ultimate tensile ratio of the pipe material (Y/T 0.90
for Tier 2 and Y/T 0.85 for Tier 3) and

Assumed to be < 3 mm

pipe grade (specied minimum yield


strength SMYS 483 MPa).
The defect limits are based on the assumption that each defect is conned to
a single weld run of height not greater
than 3 mm. If there is suspicion of a defect being of depth greater than this
weld run, it shall be repaired or assessed using other appropriate Engineering Critical Assessment methods.
Coplanar defects in the through thickness direction should be assessed for
interaction using PD 6493 [11].
Furthermore the defect limits are
based on the assumption, and require,
that the yield strength of the weld metal
should be equal to, or greater than, the
yield strength of the pipe material. The
measurement of this yield strength, and
the location, type and number of specimens, shall be by agreement.
Tier 2 can be applied to girth welds
providing the applied axial strain is not
greater than 0,5 %. Tier 3 can be applied to axial stresses not greater than
the pipe yield strength.
Girth welds shall be between pipes of
equal grade, thickness and be subjected to 100 % non-destructive testing.
For Tier 3 (additional to the Charpy
toughness requirement in Tiers 1 and 2)
a minimum mean CTOD toughness of
0.15 mm and a minimum single CTOD
toughness of 0.10 mm, at the minimum
design temperature is required. The
number of toughness specimens, their
orientation and location, will be specied by the Responsible Engineer, and
take due account of the welding parameters, pipeline, its operation and the
weld defects expected.
Tier 2 and Tier 3: Defect limits

Fig. 1:

Girth weld defect limits for Tier 3

Bild 1:

Fehlergrenzen in Rundschweinhten fr Tier 3

Defect limits for Tiers 2 and 3 are results of tness-for-purpose calculations

3R international 35 (1996) Heft 10/11 Oktober/November

623

Table 4: Defect acceptance levels (Tier 1), and defect limits (Tiers 2 and 3); planar and non-planar defects
Tafel 4:

Zulssige Schweinahtfehler (Tier 1) und zulssige Fehlergren (Tiers 2 und 3); ebene und nichtebene Fehler

Type of defect

Tier 1
Acceptance criteria

Inadequate root penetration

Tier 2
Limit criteria

Length 25 mm

Incomplete (lack of) fusion root and/or cap


Incomplete fusion, cold lap

7xt

Total 25 mm in 300 mm or
8 % circumference (lesser)
Length 50 mm

Lack of sidewall fusion


Lack of inter-run fusion

Tier 3
Limit criteria
Figure 1

7 x t in any 300 mm
7xt

Total 50 mm in 300 mm or
15 % circumference (lesser)

Figure 1

7 x t in any 300 mm

Cracks

Not allowed

Crater Cracks

4 mm

Burn through

Individual

4 mm

Total
t < 10 mm

Porosity

2 per 300 mm

Individual

3 mm or 0.25 t (lesser)

Figure 1

Total Not exceed a total area when projected radially through the weld of
2 % projected weld area in radiograph consisting of the length of the
weld affected by the porosity, with a minimum length of 150 mm, multiplied by the maximum width of the weld.
Hollow bead,

Length

50 mm

Slag

Total

50 mm in 300 mm, or 15 % circumference (lesser)

Inclusions

Total

12 mm in 300 mm, and 4 per 300 mm

Width
t 10 mm

Porosity,

Individual

Hollow bead

Total

Slag, Inclusions

Total

3 mm or 0.5 t (lesser)
as for t < 10 mm

6 mm or 0.25 t (lesser)(A)
5 % projected area on radiograph

as for t < 10 mm

40 % circumference(A)

Width
(A)

Figure 1

3 mm

If the pipe yield strength is above 450 MPa, limits for t < 10 mm should be used

Table 5: Defect acceptance levels (Tier 1), and defect limits (Tiers 2 and 3); accumulation and interacting criteria
Tafel 5:

Zulssige Schweinahtfehler (Tier 1) und zulssige Fehlergren (Tiers 2 und 3); Kriterien zur Aufsummierung und Wechselwirkung

Type of defect

Tier 1
Acceptance criteria

Tier 2
Limit criteria

Defect accumulation 100 mm in 300 mm, or 15 % circumference (lesser),


t < 10 mm
excepting porosity and root concavity
Defect interaction
t < 10 mm

Inherent in defect accumulation criteria

Defect accumulation as for t < 10 mm


t 10 mm

7 x t or 100 mm in any 300 mm (larger),


excepting porosity and root concavity.
Slag is exempt from accumulation, providing the yield strength of the pipe
YS(pipe) 450 MPa. Accumulation of planar and non planar defects 40 % circumference.

Tier 3
Limit criteria
Figure 1
Limits are given in gure 1. If a planar, slag or porosity defect is separated from a planar defect by a
distance smaller than the length of the shorter of
the two defects, then recategorise as a single planar defect of length equal to the two individual
lengths and separation.
Figure 1

Root concativity is not included in accumulation calculations, unless it causes the weld thickness to be less than that
of the pipe.
Defect interaction
t 10 mm

Inherent in defect
accumulation criteria

If a planar, slag or porosity defect is separated from a planar defect by a distance smaller than
the length of the shorter of the two defects, then recategorise as a single planar defect of
length equal to the two individual lengths plus separation.
Recategorised planar defect should have
the same identity as the planar defect

Figure 1

624

3R international 35 (1996) Heft 10/11 Oktober/November

b) All Total Defect Length

a) Planar Defect Length


1000

2500

800

Defect Length,
mm

600

400

200

Total Defect Length, mm

2000

Tier 1
Tier 2
Tier 3

Tier 1
Tier 2
Tier 3

1500

1000

500

18" x 7 mm

36" x 25 mm

56" x 20 mm

18" x 7 mm

36" x 25 mm

Pipe Dimensions

Fig. 2:

Examples for the application of Tiers 1 to 3

Bild 2:

Beispiele fr die Anwendung der Tiers 1 bis 3

based on small scale-, wide plate- and


full scale tests, on BSI 4515 [3], BSI PD
6493 [11], and on a plastic collapse approach [17].
Defect limits in Tier 2 are expressed
as a function of wall thickness (planar
defects) or projected area on radiographs (non-planar defects). Planar defects, including cap and root undercut,
are allowed up to a length of 7 x wall
thickness in 300 mm circumference.
The assumed maximum depth is 3 mm.
Non-planar defect limits and slag limits for t 10 can be used if the yield
strength of the pipe material is
450 MPa. If the yield strength is above
this limit, the t < 10 mm limits for nonplanar defects should be used for all
wall thicknesses.
Defect limits for Tier 3 are given in gure 1. In this gure the limits for defect
lengths are given as percentage of circumference of individual planar, interacting planar and total limit for all planar
defects as a function of the wall thickness. There is a general limit for all
types of planar defects in a weld of 25 %
circumference.
Defect limits in Tier 3 can alternatively
be set for pipeline girth welds by other
recognized tness-for-purpose methods.

Application of the EPRG


guidelines
Examples of the application of Tiers 1
to 3 are given in gure 2 for three pipe dimensions. Figure 2a shows the allowable defect sizes for an (individual) undercut in the root. For all pipe dimensions the allowed defect lengths increase from Tier 1 to Tier 2 and Tier 3.
This behaviour is pronounced when applying Tier 3 to larger diameters and wall
thicknesses. But even in the case of 7
mm wall thickness pipe the defect length
is doubled when changing from Tier 1

56" x 20 mm

Pipe Dimensions

(the good workmanship standard) to Tier


2 (the more conservative tness-for-purpose level). Similar results can also be
seen for the total all defect length in Figure 2b, showing the benet in applying
Tiers 2 and 3. Figure 2 also gives an impression of the safety margins using
good workmanship standards.

[7]

[8]

Conclusions
The European Pipeline Research
Group (EPRG) has produced defect
limits for pipeline girth welds. These
guidelines are based on tness-for-purpose calculations and extensive full
scale and wide plate testing.
The guidelines are aimed at providing
pipeline operators with uniform acceptance levels and defect limits. EPRG is
committed to these guidelines, and intend to update them, as further data becomes available.

[9]

[10]
[11]

[12]

References
[1]

[2]

[3]

[4]

[5]

[6]

Eiber, R. J.; Jones, D. J.: An analysis of


reportable incidents for natural gas
transmission and gathering lines, June
1984 through 1990. AGA NG-18, Report No. 200, August 1992
Anon.: Welding of pipelines and related
facilities.
API
Standard
1104,
17th Edition, September 1988
Anon.: Process of welding of steel pipelines on land and offshore. BSI 4515:
1984, British Standards Institution,
1984
Anon.: Gas pipeline systems. Canadian
Standards Association, CAN/CSAZ184-M86, 1986
Roodbergen, A. H.; Denys, R.: Limitations of tness-for-purpose assessment
of pipeline girth welds. Int. Conf. on
Pipeline Technology, AIM, Rome, 1987
Mc Donald, K.; Hopkins, P.: The signicance of embedded non-planar defects
in transmission pipeline girth welds: A
literature review. Pipes and Pipelines

[13]

[14]

[15]

[16]

[17]

International, March-April (Part 1), MayJune (Part 2), 1995


Hopkins, P.; Pistone, V.; Clyne, A. J.: A
study of the behaviour of defects in
pipeline girth welds: The work of the European Pipeline Research Group. Conf.
on Pipeline Reliability, Calgary, Canada, June 1992
Hopkins, P.: The application of tnessfor-purpose methods to defects detected in offshore transmission pipelines.
Conf. on Welding and Weld Performance in the Process Industry, IBC,
London, April 1992
Hopkins, P.; Denys, R.: The European
Pipeline Research Group's guidelines
on acceptable girth weld defects in
transmission pipelines. Eighth AGA
Linepipe Symposium, Houston, September 1993
Denys, R.: To be published
Anon.: Guidance on methods for assessing the acceptability of aws in fusion welded structures. BSI Standards,
Published Document, PD 6493: 1991
Glover, A. G. et al.: Engineering critical
assessment of pipeline girth welds.
Conf. on Fitness-for-purpose of Welded
Structures, Welding Institute, London,
November 1981
Coote, R. I. et al.: Alternative girth weld
acceptance standards in the Canadian
Pipeline Code. Conf. on Welding and
Performance of Pipelines, Welding Institute, London, paper 21, November 1986
Wilkowski, G. M.: Evaluation of tensile
failure of girth weld repair grooves in
pipes subjected to offshore laying
stresses. Energy Sources Technology
Conference, New Orleans, February
1980
Anderson, T. L.: Plastic collapse analysis of girth weld repair grooves in pipes
subjected to offshore laying stresses.
Int J Press Vess & Piping, 31, 2, 1988,
pp. 105 130
Miller, A. G.: Review of limit loads of
structures containing defects. Int J
Press Vess & Piping, 32, nos. 1 4,
1988
Kastner, W. et al.: Critical crack size in
ductile piping. Int J Press Vess & Piping,
9, 1981, pp. 197 219