The fabrication of structures for Arctic applications is expected to face major challenges when it comes to the fracture toughness of the heat affected zone and the weld metal. Although the initial base metal toughness may be excellent, a severe toughness deterioration normally occurs as result of the rapid heating and cooling cycles in welding. The present investigation addresses tensile behavior and toughness properties of 32 and 50 mm thick 420 MPa plates, including tensile testing at both room temperature and −60°C, and Charpy V impact toughness and CTOD fracture toughness at −60°C. The welds were deposited by gas shielded flux cored arc welding using a heat input of 2-2.4 kJ/mm. The results showed a dramatic reduction in the fracture toughness after welding, i.e., from CTOD level above 2.5 mm to below 0.25 mm for the 50 mm plate, and from ~ 2 mm to the lowest value of 0.12 mm for the 32mm plate. The Charpy V toughness appeared to be good for the 50 mm, both for the heat affected zone and the weld metal, while the 32 mm plate suffered from low values in the weld metal root area. The results for the 50 mm thick plate are very promising, particularly for use in the temperature range down to −20 to −40°C.
The oil and gas industry is moving north due to the large oil and gas reserves. For example, a preliminary assessment by the US Geological Survey suggests the Arctic seabed may hold as much as about 30% of the world's undiscovered gas and 13% of the world's undiscovered oil (Gautier et al, 2009), mostly offshore under less than 500 meters of water. In these areas, the temperature may occasionally fall below −30 to −40°C, which represents new challenges to the materials. Normally, structural steels and pipelines may easily satisfy toughness requirements at such low temperature. However, welding tends to be very harmful to low temperature fracture toughness. Both the heat affected zone (HAZ) and the weld metal may fail in providing sufficient toughness (e.g., Akselsen et al, 2011; Østby et al, 2011; Akselsen et al, 2012; Akselsen and Østby, 2014).