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Engineering Failure Analysis 77 (2017) 39–49

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Engineering Failure Analysis


journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/engfailanal

Plastic damage analysis of oil and gas pipelines with


unconstrained and constrained dents
Chengbing Li ⁎, Sihong Dang
School of Mechatronic Engineering, Southwest Petroleum University, Chengdu 610500, China

a r t i c l e i n f o a b s t r a c t

Article history: Indentation resulting from mechanical damage is one of the main causes of pipeline rupture fail-
Received 5 February 2016 ure. The primary objective of this case study is to analyze the plastic damage of the pipelines with
Received in revised form 10 June 2016 unconstrained and constrained dents using the existing plastic damage model, namely, the ductile
Accepted 27 February 2017
failure damage indicator (DFDI) model. As part of this study, an attempt is made to clarify the in-
Available online 28 February 2017
fluence of the constraint on the behavior of the pipeline. The investigation indicates that the plas-
tic damage of the pipeline interior walls outweighs that of the pipeline exterior walls and cracks
Keywords: start frequently from the pipe interior walls. The position of the maximal circumferential plastic
Oil and gas pipeline
damage deviates from the deepest position of the dent when the critical displacement loading
Unconstrained and constrained dents
arriving due to the circumferential deformation of the pipeline. The total plastic damage of the
Plastic damage
Ductile failure damage indicator (DFDI) unconstrained dented pipeline only depends on the initial displacement loading because the
Finite element analysis (FEA) working pressure has very little influence on its behavior under the unconstrained condition.
However, the total plastic damage of the constrained dented pipeline depends on the initial dis-
placement loading and the working pressure because the working pressure has a significant effect
on its behavior under the constrained condition. Under the same condition, the constrained
dented pipeline is easier to crack compared to the unconstrained dented pipeline. In this paper,
the model, results and the findings are summarized and discussed.
© 2017 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction

Buried oil and gas pipelines are widely used for transmitting gases and liquids from their production sites to houses and in-
dustrial organizations. If these pipelines leak or rupture, there should be a potential danger of fires or explosions. Mechanical
damage is one of the primary causes of pipeline damage and failures in the world [1]. The mechanical damage in a pipe is usually
classified into two categories: dents and gouges [2]. Gouges, the severely deformed places where cracks can be initiated, are not
the subject of the present research. In dented area, a permanent plastic deformation occurs in the cross-section of the pipe that
causes a local stress and strain concentration and a reduction in the pipe diameter. Dents in pipelines are divided into.
varied types based on the degrees of impact on wall dimensions and geometry of indenters [3–5]. The major types of dents
defined in the literature are Smooth, Kinked, Plain, Unconstrained and Constrained dents [1,4]. The dents in the present paper
are considered both unconstrained dents and constrained dents. The former is free to rebound elastically and the latter does
not rebound elastically due to being constrained when the indenter is removed.

⁎ Corresponding author.
E-mail address: lichbing@mail.ustc.edu.cn (C. Li).

http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.engfailanal.2017.02.009
1350-6307/© 2017 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
40 C. Li, S. Dang / Engineering Failure Analysis 77 (2017) 39–49

Nomenclature

Letters
DFDI ductile fracture damage index
A, B, C results of plastic damage
A0 original cross-sectional area
Af0 cross-sectional area after fracture at the neck
A% relative elongation of pipeline material
D total plastic damage
D1, D2 plastic damage of the first step loading and the second step loading
d diameter of pipelines
Ab-strain absolute value of the difference of the equivalent strain
Ab-tri absolute value of the difference of the stress triaxiality
E elastic modulus of pipelines
L length of pipelines
Pw working pressure of pipelines
t wall thickness of pipelines
R radius of a spherical void
R_ average radial velocity on the void boundary
X, Y, Z coordinate system

Greek letters
α material constant
β constant
σtri stress triaxiality
σm mean stress
σeq equivalent von Mises stress
ε_ strain rate
εf equivalent plastic strain to failure
εf0 critical fracture strain of the material
εeq equivalent strain
εeq1, εeq2 equivalent strain of the first step loading and the second step loading
μ Poisson's ratio
σys yield stress
σu ultimate tensile strength

Strain-based assessment models [6–10] for dents are widely accepted and used in the pipeline industry to determine the
dent severity and for prioritization of investigations. These strain models utilize the dent axial and circumferential profiles re-
ported by multi-channel geometry tools or laser-scan measurement. Dents in pipelines are permanent deformations caused by
plastic damage. Therefore, it is appropriate to apply the plastic damage models to determine its severity and susceptibility to
cracking.
In this paper, brief discussions of the ductile failure damage indicator (DFDI) model are given. Based on the DFDI model, the
plastic damage of the pipelines with unconstrained and constrained dents are investigated by the finite element analysis (FEA)
method and the results are presented and discussed. This paper deals with the behavior of pipelines under the displacement load-
ing and working pressure on the basis of the DFDI model. The objective is to analyze the plastic damage of the pipelines with
unconstrained and constrained dents.

2. Ductile failure damage indicator (DFDI) model

The fracture of ductile solids frequently results from initiation and evolution of micro-cracks or the nucleation and the large
growth and coalescence of microscopic voids. Tracey and Rice studied on the ductile enlargement of voids in stress triaxiality
fields by the Rayleigh-Ritz method and the maximum plastic principle and obtained the dilatational factor of a spherical void
in a remote tensile strain field [11]:

 
_
R=R ¼ 0:283ε_  exp 3σ m =2σ eq ð1Þ
C. Li, S. Dang / Engineering Failure Analysis 77 (2017) 39–49 41

Fig. 1. Uniaxial stress-strain response of API X60 steel employed in the analyses [17–18].

_ the average radial velocity on the void boundary; ε_ is the simple tensile strain rate
where, R is the radius of a spherical void; Ris
infinity; σm is the mean stress of three principle stresses in a stress triaxiality field; σeq is the equivalent von Mises stress. Hancock
and Mackenzie [12] based on the Rice-Tracey void growth equation [11] and partly experimental results, and proposed an equiv-
alent fracture strain, εf, under the current conditions of stress triaxiality, strain rate and temperature.
 
ε f ¼ α  exp −3σ m =2σ eq ð2Þ

where α is a material constant. It can be determined from εf at one stress-state, and then using it to predict failure strains at
other stress states. Johnson and Camacho et al. [13–14] extended this fracture criterion by including effects of strain rate and tem-
perature. BΦrvik and Xue L [15–16] introduced a reference equivalent fracture strain, εf0, which can be measured by tensile tests
to represent the material constant α.
 
ε f ¼ β  ε f 0  exp −3σ m =2σ eq ð3Þ

where εf0 is the reference equivalent fracture strain in the uniaxial tension state without confining pressure and can be defined as
εf 0 ¼ ln AAf00. A0 is the original cross-sectional area and Af0 is the cross-sectional area of the test specimen after fracture at the neck
at atmospheric pressure [15]. β is a constant.
The ductile failure damage indicator (DFDI) model to a material element based on damage accumulation is generally expressed
in the non-dimensional form [10]:

εeq
dεeq εeq dεeq
D¼ ∫ ¼ ∫   ð4Þ
0 εf 0 βε  exp −3σ m =2σ eq
f0

where D is the total plastic damage; εeq is the equivalent strain. It is assumed that D = 0, for the intact material and D = 1, for the
complete loss of load carrying capacity, i.e. fracture occurrence [10,16].

3. Methods and materials

The aforementioned failure damage mode is applied to study the plastic damage of the oil and gas pipeline with unconstrained
and constrained dents using the finite element analysis method. It should be note: vibrations (vibration of the pipe, oscillations of
the fluid, nonlinear dynamics of the dent formation, chaos and turbulence of the fluid) are neglected in this calculation. The work-
ing pressure is only a normal working pressure of the oil and gas pipelines which is usually under about 15 MPa, and the higher
pressures of the pipelines are not studied. The working pressure of the pipeline Pw is assumed to be 6.38 MPa in this paper.

Table 1
Mechanical properties of tested API X60 and X52 steel at room temperature [17–19].

Steel grade E (GPa) σys (MPa) σu (MPa) μ A%

API X60 210 483 597 0.3 29


API X52 203 410 528 0.3 32
42 C. Li, S. Dang / Engineering Failure Analysis 77 (2017) 39–49

API X60 pipeline steel is a widespread used material for transmission of oil and gas. Hence, the material of pipeline is assumed
to be API Grade X60 pipeline steel and the true stress-strain curve of API X60 is displayed in Fig. 1 [17–18]. API X60 mechanical
properties are presented in Table 1. E, σys, σu, μ and A% are the Young's modulus, yield stress at room temperature (20 °C), the
ultimate tensile strength, Poisson's ratio, relative elongation, respectively [17–18]. The Kinematic Plastic constitutive model is
used in FEM simulation.
As mentioned above, constant β and the reference equivalent fracture strain εf0, are required when analyzing the plastic dam-
age of pipelines. However, constant β and the reference equivalent fracture strain εf0 of material API X60 are not obtained due to
lack of tensile tests in this investigation. API X60 and X52 are low-to-moderate strength structural steels and are very similar in
mechanical properties, such as the Young's modulus E, yield stress σys, the ultimate tensile strength σu, Poisson's ratio μ and rel-
ative elongation A%. The mechanical properties of API X60 and X52 are presented in Table 1 [19]. As a result, API X52 and X60 are
similar in constant β and the reference equivalent fracture strain εf0. Arumugam [10] obtained β (=1.65) and εf0 (=0.512) of ma-
terial API X52 in the way of tensile tests. Therefore, API X60 is assumed to be the same β and εf0 as API X52 in this investigation.
Hence, based on the Eq. (4), and β = 1.65 and εf0 = 0.512, the plastic damage of the API X60 pipeline material is described as
follows:

εeq
dεeq
D¼ ∫   ð5Þ
0 0:8448  exp −3σ m =2σ eq

As mentioned above, the loading processes are assumed to be composed of two steps. The plastic damage of the first step
loading can been obtained as follows:

εeq1
dεeq
D1 ¼ ∫   ð6Þ
0 0:8448  exp −3σ m =2σ eq

The plastic damage of the second step loading is as follows:

εeq2
dεeq
D2 ¼ ∫   ð7Þ
εeq1 0:8448  exp −3σ m =2σ eq

where εeq1 is the equivalent strain of the first step loading; εeq2 is the equivalent strain of the second step loading. Therefore, the
total plastic damage D is given as follows:

D ¼ D1 þ D2 ð8Þ

According to the symmetry of the model, a quarter model is established, which is presented in Fig. 2. The pipeline diameter d
is 508 mm, and the wall thickness t is 7.9 mm. In order to remove the influence of the pipeline ends on calculating results, the
length of the pipeline L is 3556 mm in the simulation. The finite element analysis practice indicates that the solid element can be

Fig. 2. The model of the finite element analysis.


C. Li, S. Dang / Engineering Failure Analysis 77 (2017) 39–49 43

Fig. 3. Planar projection of a dent.

replaced by the shell element when d/t is over 20 and element type has little influence on the accuracy of the numerical results.
Therefore, the element of SHELL181 substituting for the solid element is applied to simulate the pipeline due to the d/t being over
64 in this paper.
There are three typical indenters, namely the semi-sphere, cylindrical stick and semi-ellipsoidal, which are used to form varied
dents in studies of the dented pipelines [19]. The semi-sphere indenter cannot form the dents with varied length and width due
to the symmetry and the dents are with serious stress concentration formed by the cylindrical stick indenter. The semi-elliptical
indenter can form any dents and these dents are with less stress concentration. Compared with the profile data obtained from the
real dents of outdoors pipelines by the laser-scan technique, the dents formed by the semi-elliptical indenter greatly accord with
real dents. Therefore, the semi-elliptical indenter is chosen to form the unconstrained and constrained dents of pipelines.
The semi-elliptical indenter's major axis is 100 mm and short axis is 50 mm, and it is assumed to be rigid body. The element of
SOLID45 is applied to simulate the semi-elliptical indenter. The semi-elliptical indenter's short axis direction accords with the
pipeline axial direction when it presses the pipeline, as displayed in Fig. 2. The touch between the semi-elliptical indenter and
pipeline surfaces is defined as surface-surface touching. For the purpose of obtaining precise results, the meshes of the touching
area of the pipeline surfaces are refined and the size of refined shell elements is 1.0 mm.
In order to apply the DFDI model to analyze the plastic damages of the dented pipeline, the loading processes are assumed to
be composed of two steps. For the unconstrained and constrained dents, the first steps are the same, namely an initial displace-
ment loaded by the semi-elliptical indenter along the -Y direction to form an indentation on the pipeline. However, the second
steps are different. For the unconstrained dent, the displacement loading is firstly removed from the pipeline and the dent is
free to rebound elastically; and then a working pressure of 6.38 MPa is loaded on the pipeline interior walls and maintained.
For the constrained dent, the displacement loading is always kept due to the external constraint and the same working pressure
of 6.38 MPa is loaded on the pipeline interior walls during the second step loading.

Fig. 4. Plastic damage of pipeline interior and exterior walls: (a) circumferential; (b) axial.
44 C. Li, S. Dang / Engineering Failure Analysis 77 (2017) 39–49

Fig. 5. Plastic damage of pipelines interior walls on the condition of different initial displacements loading: (a) circumferential; (b) axial.

4. Results and analysis

For the sake of conveniently exploring the plastic damage and then determining the potential cracks positions of the dented
pipeline, the planar projection of a dent formed by semi-elliptical indenter is shown in Fig. 3. The deepest depression is located on
the geometric center of the dent. According to the relationship of the strain and the plastic damage, the maximum plastic damage
must be located on the axial and circumference directions. Therefore, the plastic damage of circumferential and axial gauge points
along the circumferential and axial direction of the dent are established.

4.1. Plastic damage of the first step loading

As mentioned above, the initial displacements loading are the same for the unconstrained and constrained dents. Therefore,
the first step plastic damages of the unconstrained and constrained dents are the same. The stress and stain obtained by simula-
tion are introduced into Eq. (6) when the displacement loading is 20 mm and then the circumferential and axial plastic damages
of pipeline interior and exterior walls are obtained, as shown in Fig. 4. The abscissa axis shows the distance between the gauge
point and the deepest depression along the circumferential and axial direction. The results indicate that the maximum damage
is situated on the deepest depression position under the displacement loading of 20 mm, and the plastic damage varies from max-
imal value to 0 with the distance increasing along circumferential and axial direction.
The initial displacements loading of 15 mm to 90 mm are loaded on the pipeline for the purpose of studying the influence of
depression depth on the plastic damage of pipeline. The partial circumferential and axial plastic damage of the pipeline interior
walls are shown in Fig. 5. Results indicate that the maximal value of the circumferential plastic damage gradually outweighs
that of the axial plastic damage with the displacement loading increasing.
To summarize the circumferential and axial plastic damage, the plastic damage D1 of the first step loading ascends as the dis-
placement loading increasing, and there is a wave when the displacement loading increasing from 25 mm to 30 mm, as shown in

Fig. 6. Plastic damage D1 under different displacement loading.


C. Li, S. Dang / Engineering Failure Analysis 77 (2017) 39–49 45

Fig. 7. Geometric meaning of D2.

Fig. 6. The waving of D1 is due to a convergence problem, namely, the number of elements being inadequate to achieve the con-
vergence of the solution of the FEM simulation.

4.2. Plastic damage of the second step loading

As mentioned above, the plastic damage of the second step loading can be obtained using Eq. (7). However, it is difficult to
calculate the plastic damage D2 using the method of direct integration because of the complex relationships of the mean stress σm,
the equivalent von Mises stress σeq and the equivalent strain εeq. Therefore, the stress triaxiality σtri is introduced to Eq. (7) and
the plastic damage D2 is described as follows:

εeq2 εeq2
dεeq
D2 ¼ ∫ f ðσ tri Þdεeq ¼ ∫ ð9Þ
εeq1 εeq1 0:8448  exp ð−3σ tri =2Þ

where the stress triaxiality is defined as, σtri = σm / σeq. The geometric meaning of the plastic damage D2 is shown in Fig. 7, and
the area A represents the integration result of Eq. (9).

4.2.1. Plastic damage of unconstrained dents during the second step loading
The finite element analysis result shows that Abstrain = | εeq1 − εeq2 | gradually decreases and closes almost to zero with the
displacement loading increasing during the second step loading, as shown in Fig. 8. Therefore, the plastic damage D2 can be equiv-
alent to the area B, as shown in Fig. 9.
For the unconstrained dents, the plastic damage D1, D2 and D under the displacement loading of 15 mm to 90 mm are shown
in Fig. 10. The results indicate that the plastic damage D1 and D increase whereas the plastic damage D2 gradually decreases with
the displacement loading increasing. The total plastic damage D equals 1 when the displacement loading is approximately 65 mm.
This means that the critical displacement loading of pipelines occurring ductile failure is approximately 65 mm.

Fig. 8. Change of the equivalent strain of the unconstrained dent.


46 C. Li, S. Dang / Engineering Failure Analysis 77 (2017) 39–49

Fig. 9. Equivalent diagram of plastic damage D2.

4.2.2. Plastic damage of constrained dents during the second step loading
The finite element analysis results show that the change of stress triaxiality σtri is not obvious whereas Abstrain = |εeq1 − εeq2 |
changes with the displacement loading increasing during the second step loading, and they are shown in Fig. 11. Therefore, the
plastic damage D2 can equal to the area C after the second step loading and it is shown in Fig. 12.
For the constrained dent, the plastic damage D1, D2 and D under displacements loading of 15 mm to 90 mm are shown in Fig. 13.
The results indicate that all the plastic damage ascend, especially D sharply increases with displacement loading increasing. The total
plastic damage D equals 1 when the displacement loading is approximately 35 mm. Therefore, the critical displacement loading of
pipelines occurring ductile failure is approximately 35 mm.

5. Discussion

5.1. Plastic damage analysis of the dented pipelines

For the unconstrained and constrained dents, the circumferential and axial plastic damage of the pipelines displayed in Fig. 4
indicate that the plastic damage of the pipeline interior walls significantly outweigh those of the pipeline exterior walls due to the
pipeline interior walls being in the tension state and the pipeline exterior walls being in the pressed state. Therefore, the initial
micro-cracks occur frequently on the interior walls of pipeline dents.
Fig. 5 indicates that the maximal circumferential plastic damage is not situated on the deepest position of the dent and moves
along the circumferential direction with the displacement loading increasing. However, the position of the maximal axial plastic
damage always coincides with the deepest position of the dent with the displacement loading increasing.
The circumferential and axial sections of the dent shape formed by the semi-elliptical indenter, as shown in Fig. 14. The point
O is the deepest position of the dent and the point a and point b are located on the circumferential and axial edges of the dent
respectively.

Fig. 10. Plastic damage of the unconstrained dent.


C. Li, S. Dang / Engineering Failure Analysis 77 (2017) 39–49 47

Fig. 11. Change of stress triaxiality for the constrained dent.

In Fig. 14, there some obvious differences of the circumferential and axial sections. The circumferential profile of the dent,
namely the curve Oa, attributes to the relationship between the elliptical surface of the indenter and the circular surface of the
pipeline, as shown in Fig. 14(a). The minimal curvature of the curve Oa is changeable with the displacement loading increasing
due to the circular surface of the pipeline. The smaller the curvature the larger is the plastic damage. Therefore, the position of
the maximal circumferential plastic damage does not coincide with the point O and is away from it when the displacement load-
ing increases to a critical value. Two points of the maximal plastic damage emerge due to the symmetry of the dent, as shown in
Fig. 14(a). In this investigation, the critical displacement is about 30 to 35 mm, which depends on the geometries and the
mechanical properties of the indenter and pipeline, as shown in Fig. 5(a). However, the axial profile of the dent depends on
the relationship between the circular of the indenter and the straight surface of the pipeline, as shown in Fig. 14(b). The minimal
curvature of the curve Ob is unvaried and equals the radius of the circular indenter. Hence, the position of the maximal axial plas-
tic damage away coincides with the point O, as shown in Fig. 5(b).

5.2. Influence of the working pressure on the behavior of the dented pipelines

For the unconstrained dent, the plastic damage D1 clearly outweighs D2 and D2 gradually decreases with the displacement
loading increasing from Fig. 10. For example, D1 = 0.653, and D2 = 0.015 when the displacement loading is 30 mm. Results in-
dicate that the second step loading makes few contribution to the total plastic damage D. As mentioned above, the second step
loading comprises of the removed displacement and the working pressure. As a result of the removed displacement, the dent
is free to rebound elastically. Generally, elastic rebound does not damage the pipeline. Therefore, in fact the plastic damage D2
only depends on the working pressure. On the one hand, the dent interior walls are pressed and rebound plastically by the work-
ing pressure, which makes its tense strain reduce to an extent. On the other hand, the working pressure results in the pipeline
interior walls being tensed and new plastic strain is generated. Ultimately, the new plastic strain generated by the working pres-
sure is small. In other words, the change of plastic strain of the dent is small, which is in accord with the results of Fig. 8. Hence,
the working pressure has a slight effect on the behavior of the unconstrained dented pipeline and it can be approximately
neglected. The total plastic damage D only depends on the first step loading.
For the constrained dent, the working pressure is loaded and the displacement loading is maintained during the second step
loading. Therefore, the plastic damage D2 depends on the working pressure. However, the dent interior walls cannot rebound

Fig. 12. Equivalent diagram of plastic damage D2.


48 C. Li, S. Dang / Engineering Failure Analysis 77 (2017) 39–49

Fig. 13. Plastic damage of the constrained dent.

plastically by the working pressure due to the constraint. The pipeline interior walls are tensed by the working pressure and new
plastic strain is generated. This means that the plastic strain of the dent is changed by the working pressure, which accords with
the results of Fig. 11. Therefore, the working pressure makes a few contribution to the plastic damage D2 and has a significant
influence on the behavior of the constrained dented pipeline. As shown in Fig. 13, the total plastic damage D depends on the
first step loading and the second step loading for the constrained dent. Compared to the unconstrained dent, the constrained
dent suffers a smaller displacement loading and its interior walls are easier to crack.

5.3. Plastic damage models of the pipeline with unconstrained and constrained dents

The working pressure has a negligible effect on the behavior of the unconstrained dented pipeline, and the total plastic dam-
age D only depends on the first step loading. Therefore, for the unconstrained dent, the plastic failure damage model can be de-
scribed as follows:

εeq1
dεeq
D ¼ D1 ¼ ∫   ð10Þ
0 β  ε f 0  exp −3σ m =2σ eq

The working pressure has a significant effect on the behavior of the constrained dented pipeline due to the constraint, and the
total plastic damage D depends on two steps loading. Therefore, for the constrained dent, the plastic failure damage model can be

Fig. 14. Sections of a dent shape: (a) circumferential; (b) axial.


C. Li, S. Dang / Engineering Failure Analysis 77 (2017) 39–49 49

described as follows:

εeq1 εeq2
dεeq dεeq
D ¼ D1 þ D2 ¼ ∫  þ ∫   ð11Þ
0 β  ε f 0  exp −3σ m =2σ eq εeq1 β  ε
f0  exp −3σ m =2σ eq

Therefore, it is essential to distinguish between the unconstrained dent and constrained dent in the analysis of the total plastic
failure damage of pipelines.

6. Concluding remarks

The plastic damage of an oil and gas pipeline with unconstrained and constrained dents were investigated. The findings of
plastic damage analysis are summarized as follows:
(1) For a dented pipeline, the plastic damage of the pipeline interior walls significantly outweighs that of the pipeline exterior
walls, and cracks are frequently located on the pipeline interior walls. The position of the maximal circumferential plastic damage
deviates from the deepest position of the dent when the displacement loading increasing to a critical value due to the circumfer-
ential deformation of the pipeline surfaces by the oval indenter.
(2) For the unconstrained dent, the working pressure has a negligible effect on the behavior of the pipeline and the total plas-
tic damage only depends on the initial displacement loading. For the constrained dent, the working pressure has a significant in-
fluence on the behavior of the pipeline due to the constraint, and the total plastic damage depends on the initial displacement
loading and the working pressure.
In summary, the investigation shows that the ductile failure damage indicator (DFDI) model can be applied to study the plastic
damage of pipelines with unconstrained and constrained dents. The separate plastic damage analysis models are proposed based
on the loading routes. The working pressure can cause an obvious plastic damage to the pipeline with constrained dents. There-
fore, compared to the pipeline with the unconstrained dents, the pipeline with constrained dents can only undertake a smaller
displacement loading and is easier to crack. Nowadays, most oil and gas pipelines are buried in the earth and are constrained
by rocks and clay. Therefore, it is important to avoid forming the dents on the surface of pipelines during construction and
working.

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