Tensile Strength

The most important mechanical properties of casing and tubing are burst strength, collapse resistance and tensile strength. These properties are necessary to determine the strength of the pipe and to design a casing string.

Burst strength

If casing is subjected to internal pressure higher than external, it is said that casing is exposed to burst pressure. Burst pressure conditions occur during well control operations, integrity tests, pumping operations, and production operations. The burst strength of the pipe body is determined by the internal yield pressure.

Because a burst failure will not occur until after the stress exceeds the ultimate tensile strength (UTS), using a yield strength criterion as a measure of burst strength is an inherently conservative assumption. This is particularly true for lower-grade materials such H-40, K-55, and N-80 whose UTS/YS ratio is significantly greater than that of higher-grade materials such as P-110 and Q-125. The effect of axial loading on the burst strength is discussed later.

Collapse strength

If external pressure exceeds internal pressure, the casing is subjected to collapse. Such conditions may exist during cementing operations, trapped fluid expansion, or well evacuation. Collapse strength is primarily a function of the material's yield strength and its slenderness ratio.


Yield strength collapse is based on yield at the inner wall using the Lamé thick wall elastic solution. This criterion does not represent a "collapse" pressure at all. For thick wall pipes (D/t < 15±), the tangential stress exceeds the yield strength of the material before a collapse instability failure occurs.


Plastic collapse is based on empirical data from 2,488 tests of K-55, N-80, and P-110 seamless casing. No analytic expression has been derived that accurately models collapse behavior in this regime. Regression analysis results in a 95% confidence level that 99.5% of all pipes manufactured to American Petroleum Institute (API) specifications will fail at a collapse pressure higher than the plastic collapse pressure.


Transition collapse is obtained by a numerical curve fit between the plastic and elastic regimes.


Elastic Collapse is based on theoretical elastic instability failure; this criterion is independent of yield strength and applicable to thin-wall pipe (D/t > 25±).

Most oilfield tubulars experience collapse in the "plastic" and "transition" regimes. Many manufacturers market "high collapse" casing, which they claim has collapse performance properties that exceed the ratings calculated with the formulae in API. This improved performance is achieved principally by using better manufacturing practices and stricter quality assurance programs to reduce ovality, residual stress, and eccentricity. High collapse casing was initially developed for use in the deeper sections of high-pressure wells. The use of high collapse casing has gained wide acceptance in the industry, but its use remains controversial among some operators. Unfortunately, all manufacturers’ claims have not been substantiated with the appropriate level of qualification testing. If high collapse casing is deemed necessary in a design, appropriate expert advice should be obtained to evaluate the manufacturer’s qualification test data such as lengths to diameter ratio, testing conditions (end constraints), and the number of tests performed.

Combined stress effects

All the pipe-strength equations previously given are based on a uniaxial stress state (i.e., a state in which only one of the three principal stresses is nonzero). This idealized situation never occurs in oilfield applications because pipe in a wellbore is always subjected to combined loading conditions. The fundamental basis of casing design is that if stresses in the pipe wall exceed the yield strength of the material, a failure condition exists. Hence, the yield strength is a measure of the maximum allowable stress. To evaluate the pipe strength under combined loading conditions, the uniaxial yield strength is compared to the yielding condition. Perhaps the most widely accepted yielding criterion is based on the maximum distortion energy theory, which is known as the Huber-Hencky-Mises yield condition or simply the von Mises stress, triaxal stress, or equivalent stress. Triaxial stress (equivalent stress) is not a true stress. It is a theoretical value that allows a generalized three-dimensional (3D) stress state to be compared with a uniaxial failure criterion (the yield strength). In other words, if the triaxial stress exceeds the yield strength, a yield failure is indicated. The triaxial safety factor is the ratio of the material’s yield strength to the triaxial stress.


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