Comprising 4 pipelines over 900 km in length, with 32-in diameter and traversing water depths over 2200 m, the South Stream project requires a step-out in technology application. Following several years of preparation, the project is now approaching its implementation.

In order to document the reliability of the collapse resistance for South Stream, an extensive material development program was initiated and executed, including small scale, medium scale, and full scale testing on over one hundred purposely manufactured pipe joints by world’s 5 leading mills.

Testing performed included plate tests, full scale collapse tests on various combinations of plate sources, steel grades, and thermal ageing condition, pressure-bend tests, and reverse bending tests. A large number of medium and small scale tests were performed to allow the development of a suitably reliable statistical database for the probabilistic wall thickness design.

In addition, programs were developed and executed for weldability tests, performing over one hundred trial welds, and for H2S resistance tests.

This material development program was built on INTECSEA’s extensive experience with deep water large diameter pipelines (i.e. Oman-India, Blue Stream, Medgaz, Mardi Gras, IGI, etc.). Due to its extent and rigorous approach the South Stream material development program was able to conclusively prove the feasibility of the selected technological approach at an industrial scale.

This paper provides an overview of the key design issues that were successfully addressed and the major technological advances that have been implemented as part of the linepipe material development process for deepwater pipelines in an H2S containing environment.

The practical significance of this program is to optimize the wall thickness to a level that is manufacturable by the industry and hence enables the South Stream Project to proceed with its unprecedented depth and diameter combination.

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