ECA, combining global expertise - Impulse magazine

    As a key part of the Filanovsky pipeline project in the Caspian Sea, Applus RTD delivered an ECA (Engineering Critical Assessment).

    ECA... evaluating if welds are fit for purpose

    Most NDT technicians are familiar with situations where a client’s welds have been rejected and as such this causes dissatisfaction, additional costs and delays to a project. Regulations for gas pipelines are very strict however, and some flaws can be rejected contrary to the judgement of the welders who are obviously satisfied with the work they have carried out. 

    To help the pipeline contractor in these situations, an ECA can be performed. In this, the loads resulting from pipeline installation, and the operating conditions of the pipeline, are evaluated against the strength and toughness of the welds as determined by destructive materials testing. The result is an evaluation of both the type and size of flaws that need to be rejected for the pipeline to be classed as fit for service.

    Across all disciplines

    It is clear from the description of an ECA project that competences are required in the areas of welding, stress analysis and also materials testing. In the Applus+ RTD pipeline department, it has long been the desire to perform ECA directly for clients. By performing the ECA we could determine the acceptance criteria, giving the company an advantage in being able to deploy new NDT technologies. Advanced NDT techniques provides more accurate results and show clients smaller defects, which cause an argument with pipeline contractors regarding repair rate while these imperfections do not affect the pipelines fitness for service. In such cases more intelligence acceptance criteria are beneficial to the client.

    Facing up to the challenge

    For the project, stress analysis and engineering analysis were performed by Applus+ RTD’s recent acquisition Kiefner, in Columbus, Ohio. On the other side, material testing for the project was carried out at the Applus+ Laboratories. Like this, to ensure the success of the project, all activities had to be co-ordinated, and documents and materials sent to locations in the five countries involved. It is a testament to the commitment of employees of all companies involved that everything went without a hitch.

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