For more than 100 years, pipelines have been used to transport natural gas over long distances. One of the first long-distance pipelines was built in 1891 in the United States from Indiana to Chicago with a length of about 120 miles. However, major progress in metallurgy, pipe manufacturing and welding techniques was needed to establish the start of the construction of pipeline networks in the US and in Europe in the 1950s and 1960s. In 1973, gas was transported for the first time from the former USSR to Western Europe over a distance of 1800 km. In Western Europe today gas is moved through a roughly 110 000 km pipeline system.
In conjunction with the growth of the natural gas networks it was realised that the integrity of the pipeline system and the safety of gas transport is an essential issue. In 1971, the problem of long running ductile fractures in gas transmission pipelines was brought to the attention of the European pipeline industry by the literature published in the United States. Subsequently, gas transmission companies and line pipe manufacturers began to investigate the problem and recognised that extensive research would be necessary. This led to the formation of the European Pipeline Research Group (EPRG) in 1972.
Today, the European Pipeline Research Group comprises 19 member companies, including 10 gas transmission and 9 pipe manufacturing companies, from 8 European countries and has been undertaking a broad range of research aimed at increasing the integrity of gas transmission pipelines.
This paper gives an overview of the pipeline research carried out by the European Pipeline Research Group over more than 30 years, high lightening recent research topics and results of work of its Technical Committees Materials, Corrosion and Design. Special emphasis is given to ultra high strength pipeline grades (X100).