Evaluating steel chemical analysis options for operating pipelines

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Bill Amend Bill Amend
Senior Project Manager

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It is necessary to accurately determine the chemical composition of steel pipelines for: 

  • selection of welding procedures
  • inputs to algorithms that determine mechanical properties from in-situ, non-destructive measurements and
  • meeting the proposed regulatory requirements applicable to vintage pipelines. 

However, a variety of analysis options are available with a range of costs, and apparent differences in reliability and accuracy.


This project aims to determine the advantages and limitations of field-portable spectroscopy and laboratory analysis of solid samples or filings removed from the pipe. We will conduct a literature review and round-robin testing by several service providers.  


The project will enable more confident selection of cost-effective methods of meeting proposed regulatory requirements. It will also enable more accurate, non-destructive determination of mechanical properties and appropriate welding practices for in-service piping.


The results can result in avoided costs of failures resulting from improper decisions based on faulty chemical analysis results. Lack of chemical analysis results can result in use of overly conservative welding practices that add hundreds of dollars of cost per occurrence. Confidence in field-portable analysis methods could save days of analysis completion time.