Stress corrosion cracking (SCC) can cause catastrophic failure of buried pipelines for oil and gas transmission. The life cycle of pipeline steels experiencing SCC consists of five stages: Incubation stage, Stage 1a (crack initiation), Stage 1b (early-stage crack growth), Stage 2 (sustainable crack growth caused by mechanical driving force), and Stage 3 (rapid crack propagation to rupture). Stage 1b encompasses a large portion of the pipeline’s lifespan, which is of great significance to pipeline integrity management aimed at service life extension. However, this stage is less studied so far. This paper provides a brief review of the recent progress on Stage 1b stress corrosion crack initiation and growth for buried pipeline steels. Emphasis is placed on the effects of loading conditions and their interactions on Stage 1b growth of high pH SCC, while some progress of near-neutral pH SCC is included for the purpose of comparison. It first introduces SCC in pipeline steels which is followed by a definition of Stage 1b and its significance in terms of the service life of pipeline steels. Then the most recent advancements in understanding early-stage crack growth in Stage 1b are reviewed and discussed. In summary, Stage 1b growth can be self-induced by existing cracks (the so-called mother-daughter analogy), involving crack initiation in the plastic zone ahead of the surface tip of a surface crack, which is quite different from the stochastic process of coalescence of randomly formed individual cracks. Stage 1b growth extends crack length and increases stress intensity factor at the depth tip without a physical increase in crack depth, serving as a bridge to Stage 2. Further, the needs for future research on Stage 1b SCC initiation and growth of pipeline steels are discussed.

This content is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.