American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers, Inc.


The background of research on the hydrogen and hydrogen sulfide embrittlement of steels is reviewed. The factors required for embrittlement and the probability of their occurrence in field conditions are discussed.

A laboratory program to evaluate the relative susceptibility of various steels to hydrogen sulfide embrittlement in a simulated sour well condition was designed. Samples of oil country tubular grades ranging from J-55 to V-180 as well as laboratory heats of steel designed to measure the effect of yield strength tensile strength and heat treatment on hydrogen sulfide embrittlement were tested. The most significant factor observed was the strength of the steel.

The results of these tests and other data are described and reviewed from the standpoint of a designer of casing, tubing and drill pipe strings. Available grades are sorted into three groups:

  • those grades which are unlikely to fail even in a severe environment;

  • those grades which are unlikely to fail in a mild environment; and

  • those grades which would be expected to fail even in a mild environment.

The data and the discussion of the results of these tests presented herein are not to be construed as a warranty of Youngstown's pipe or tubular goods for a particular service.


Hydrogen and hydrogen sulfide embrittlement of steels is a phenomenon which has received an extraordinary amount of attention during the past 25 years. Must of the early attention to hydrogen embrittlement was promoted by failures in military aircraft landing gear assemblies fabricated from high-strength steels. In addition, as sour oil and gas wells were encountered, the specific problem of hydrogen sulfide embrittlement became problem of hydrogen sulfide embrittlement became more and more significant, particularly as wells were drilled deeper and stresses in the drill pipe, casing and tubing increased.

Despite the time and money devoted to studying H2 and H2S embrittlement, a complete understanding of the process does not exist.

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