Economic and environmental incentives encourage operators to maintain pipeline operation during repair and maintenance procedures including hot-tap branch fitting installation onto pipelines. Welding onto a liquid-filled pipeline induces accelerated cooling of the weld and heat affected zone (HAZ), increasing the propensity for cracking. In-service welding codes and due diligence requires that several key factors be considered during the design of an in-service welding procedure specification for its intended purpose. The level of restraint (LoR) imposed by the geometry, material, or dimensional differences of the branch compared to the run pipe has also been shown to be a significant contributor to cracking. Finite element analysis (FEA) was utilized to investigate the geometric effects of an in-service weld procedure to approximate the LoR of hot-tap branch installation. The LoR was quantified and compared by simulating multi-pass weld sequences on two configurations: a branch-on-pipe (BoP) configuration of various dimensions and a configuration using perpendicular plates (PP) that has been used as an alternative to the branch-on-pipe configuration. The highest LoR, as measured by transverse tensile stress at the fillet weld toe, was the branch-on-pipe configuration with the largest branch wall thickness, the smallest branch diameter, the largest run pipe diameter, and the largest run pipe wall thickness. FEA modeling revealed that the PP configuration has lower LoR, thus it is not recommended to use for simulating in-service branch weld procedures.

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