Ask the Expert

This month, the questions being answered by our corrosion technology experts relate to impressed current Cathodic Protection systems for pipelines and plant piping, and salt contamination of metal surfaces before painting.

The use of linear MMO sock anode systems are specified by various operating companies for pipelines and plant piping cathodic protection systems. The specifications also state that an effective isolation is not compulsory in a congested petrochemical plant, as the anode current is expected to protect the pipeline closer to the anodes. Should effective isolation be compulsory. If not, what other protective measures should be taken? AN

Distributed anode cathodic protection systems are generally used for plant piping protection. Achieving 100% isolation on a complex structure / plant piping is practically difficult which leads to huge current loss to other structures, limiting the cathodic protection on piping. The project specifications developed in the last decade specified linear MMO sock anodes for complex structures to overcome the current drains due to isolation failures. The basic assumption being that the anodes are installed closer to the pipe and hence the CP current will be drained by the pipes due to proximity rather than the earthing electrodes, or concrete rebars, a few metres away from the anode and the pipe. The same concept has been applied on several plant piping and pipeline projects, and current drains to earthing rods and concrete rebars are evident even with a sock anode system. The cathodic protection levels on the piping improved after fixing the failed isolations. It is known that an effective isolation is the key to achieve cathodic protection of pipes irrespective of the type of anodes being used.
It has also been observed that IR free coupons installed in the vicinity of sock anodes are influenced by the anodic current during IR free / Instant OFF potential measurements. This is an additional information for the CP designer to consider while designing a sock anode system. The coupons that are very close to the anode polarise positve and affect the pipeline polarisation when connected to pipes. Coupon potentials turn more positive during Instant OFF as it interferes with the anode. IR free coupons and reference electrodes must be placed away from the sock anodes, or the use of IR free coupons must be avoided on a sock anode system to avoid detrimental effects.
Ashokan Gopal, Corrosion Technology Services Europe Limited.

What is an acceptable level of salt contamination on a surface before applying a protective coating? Does this level vary with the type of coating applied, or the end use? JW

What at first seems a simple and straightforward question is not a simple and straightforward answer! The issue of salt contamination has always raised a heated debate since the late 80s early 90s when people started to realise that residual salts were a main cause of premature breakdown of coatings. Prior to this the most likely level of testing was the use of a potassium ferricyanide test paper that was applied to areas of pitting, to see if there was any residual ferrous salts present. A qualitative, not a quantitative test so we only know if ferrous salts are present or not, not how much, so is of limited value. Since then, a whole gamut of possible salts has been recognised as potentially being present on the surface of prepared steel, still the ferrous salts, but most importantly the presence of sodium chloride (NaCl). NaCl has always been known to be a problem for coatings, it took, however, a while for people to realise that the risk was from osmosis, and the creation of osmotic blisters containing a strong saline electrolyte.

Osmosis is the process whereby two solutions on either side of a semi-permeable membrane try to reach a state of equilibrium regarding their concentration. If you have a strong solution on one side and a weak solution on the other, water will pass through the membrane attempting to dilute the strong solution until it is isotonic with the other side of the membrane. From this we can therefore deduce that salts become a major issue in either immersion or very damp conditions, blistering is not going to be very likely in a dry, air-conditioned environment. The next thing to consider is the permeability of the applied coating, this will be affected by a multitude of factors but mainly the density of the coating matrix and its resistance to the flow of water through it, and the applied thickness. Also, the concentration gradient across the membrane must be considered.

When it comes to coatings, there are several considerations, particularly when using certain words; glass flake is a particular one when it comes to permeability! Glass flake coatings come in a whole range of varieties of binder, flake size, flake shape and flake density. A cheaply made ground glass powder in a cheap epoxy binder applied at low DFT will never perform as well as a proper, high density glass flake with a flake size of 1/16” or larger, trowel-applied, solvent free polyester based coating, with a DFT of over 1mm!

There is then the issue that stainless steels, duplex and super duplex materials suffer from chloride induced stress corrosion cracking and with these, when in a high-risk application, there is a need to see chloride ion contamination as close to zero as is practicable. This is not helped by the fact that many epoxies have chlorides in their formulations, so regardless of how low you get the contamination on the surface, the wrong selection of coating immediately undoes all the hard work!

As can be seen, there is no one answer fits all, unless you take a totally risk aversed viewpoint, where there is a zero tolerance.

There are two ‘normally acceptable’ values that tend to be bandied around and these came originally from the NORSOK M-501 guidelines:
“The maximum content of soluble impurities on the blasted surface as sampled using ISO 8502-6 and distilled water, shall not exceed a conductivity measured in accordance with ISO 8502-9 corresponding to a NaCl content of 20 mg/m² .”

20mg/m² was adopted for immersion and 50mg/m² for atmospheric maintenance. These numbers are not based on any particular science but are pretty arbitrary and were there as a guideline. The next problem is the interpretation – is it total salts? a specific salt such as sodium chloride? or is it just the chloride part? Having defined what you deem necessary to test for, the next problem is how do you test for it? This opens another major can of worms!

In all honesty, there is not a single answer, you need to look at the individual requirement. The coating manufacturers should have done the necessary testing in a variety of scenarios with their products, and should be able to confirm what level of contamination is acceptable and what DFT of the material is required to give the required performance in the situation envisaged. Independent verification of the testing by a third-party test lab is a very useful indicator of the potential performance to confirm manufacturers’ claims.

Therefore the simple answer is to use the 20 and 50 mg/m² for carbon steels etc. and as close to zero for S/S, duplex and super duplex as a safe bet base guideline to work from, but it is essential to make sure that the materials, specification and environment are assessed together with making sure that the most suitable choices are made to meet the performance needs.
Simon Hope, Consultant Technical Authority, Auquharney Associates Ltd.

Readers are invited to submit generic (not project specific) questions 
for possible inclusion in this column. Please email the editor at,

Fellow’s Corner

The third article in this series from ICorr Fellows who have made a significant contribution in the field of corrosion is by Bill Hedges, Vice President of the Institute of Corrosion, FICorr, FRSC, FNACE and CEng.

Corrosion Monitoring and Inspection

Corrosion monitoring and inspection are essential components of a corrosion management programme and numerous books, papers and conferences are dedicated to these subjects. This article focuses on some key points of these activities and the reader is encouraged to review the literature for more detailed information.
To minimise safety, environmental and business risks whilst maximising reliability, it is essential that equipment is maintained in a condition appropriate for the service required. Equipment in this condition is described as Fit-for-Service (FFS), i.e. the equipment can operate safely under defined operating conditions for a defined operating period. It should be noted that equipment that is FFS does not have to look nice or be corrosion free – although that is often desirable for other reasons! Corrosion is one of many possible degradation mechanisms that can negatively impact the condition of equipment and ultimately render it not FFS. Corrosion monitoring and inspection are used to determine if equipment is FFS and to predict how long it will remain so.
The definitions of corrosion and inspection can become blurred but broadly inspection involves quantifying the safe, usable wall thickness of metallic equipment and identifying defects such as thinning, cracking or pitting, caused by corrosion. Inspection is usually the most accurate way to determine current equipment condition but has the obvious disadvantage that any damage that is detected has already occurred. Inspection is therefore a lagging indicator.
To complement inspection methods, a leading indicator is needed; something that will identify that degradation is occurring and provide enough warning so that an intervention can be implemented well in advance of the problem impacting FFS. In practice a true leading indicator is difficult to obtain but this is what corrosion monitoring strives to do.
For both corrosion monitoring and inspection it is critical that the correct locations are selected. This requires a full understanding of the corrosion threats, the probable corrosion rates and the consequence of failure, i.e. a risk-based approach.

Corrosion Monitoring
Historically corrosion monitoring was exclusively associated with the measurement of corrosion rates. However, this definition has been extended to include the measurement of the performance of corrosion control barriers, e.g. the availability of corrosion inhibitors, the condition of coatings, or the electrical potential of equipment under cathodic protection control.

Corrosion Rate Monitoring
In broad terms corrosion rate monitoring is the measurement of a representative corrosion rate for a given piece of equipment exposed to a corrosive service. There are several techniques that can be used either as standalone or in concert with each other. Ideally corrosion monitoring is designed to provide real time feedback on the corrosion control process. It is important to remember that any given monitoring technique will have limited accuracy and sensitivity, and should be chosen to provide appropriate information. Monitoring is used for corrosion on both internal and external surfaces, but for this article only internal monitoring is discussed. Traditional methods for internal corrosion monitoring include:
i. Mass (weight) Loss Coupons.
ii. Electrical Resistance (ER) Probes.
iii. Electrochemical Monitoring (e.g. linear polarization resistance (LPR), 
AC Impedance).

Clearly there is a cost to installing and running corrosion monitoring programmes and this needs to be balanced against the value that they will provide. For probes, the ideal situation is to have them hard wired or wirelessly connected into the equipment control system which is best done during design and construction.

There can be a significant operating cost to manage coupons and probes which obviously depends on the size of the programme. Insertion and retrieval of coupons and probes into pressure containing equipment may present safety risks and must be done by specially trained personnel. Analysis of coupons requires laboratory facilities and the analysis of data requires appropriate training. These contribute to the cost of the programme and so the value of the data must be carefully considered. Monitoring data should never be considered as simply nice to have. If the data are not actively used and acted upon it begs the question of why invest in the expense and effort of installing corrosion monitoring facilities.

Corrosion Barrier Monitoring
To reduce corrosion rates to an acceptable level, corrosion engineers use a variety of mitigation methods known as barriers. These fall into two broad categories as follows:
i. Passive Barriers: these are barriers which require little or no active management during the lifetime of the equipment, e.g. the use of a material that is resistant to corrosion in the specified fluid.
ii. Active Barriers: These are barriers that require active management by corrosion engineers. This can range from periodic visual inspection to monitor the condition of paint coatings to daily adjustment of corrosion inhibitor injection pumps.

It should never be assumed that because a barrier has been installed it will always work as designed. Where active barriers are employed it is essential that their performance is monitored to ensure they continue to perform as designed over the lifetime of the equipment. This is known as corrosion barrier monitoring, i.e. a corrosion monitoring programme is not just about measuring corrosion rates.

A good corrosion management programme will have at least one barrier in place for each credible corrosion threat and each of these barriers should be monitored to ensure they are working as designed.

The majority of inspections are carried out using well-established techniques that have been available for many years, i.e. Visual Testing (VT), Ultrasonic Testing (UT), Radiography Testing (RT), Magnetic Particle Testing (MT) and Dye Penetrant Testing (PT).

Many of these techniques have been built into both internal and external tools, e.g. intelligent (smart) pigs, drones and subsea remote operating vehicles (ROVs).

Many inspection instruments are now small enough such that they are truly portable and can be handheld by a single person. Inspection equipment can also be permanently installed on facilities to provide point measurements at known defects or more extensive, circumferential or longitudinal coverage. Another important development is the increased use of remotely controlled crawlers and drones which can carry cameras to locations that are difficult or costly to access, such as subsea pipelines, flare stacks and offshore platform jackets.

An example of a Corrosion Management Dashboard.

An example of a Corrosion Management Dashboard.

An important development in radiography is the widespread use of digital radiography which uses electronic detectors instead of traditional film plates. The resolution of the digital “plates” provides very high-quality images with each pixel offering 250µm resolution. The high sensitivity also allows either lower strength radiation sources to be used or shorter exposure times. In addition, modern data processing provides very fast data acquisition and analysis of images which allows the images to be seen in almost real-time.

Collection and Analysis Data
Following data acquisition by corrosion monitoring and inspection, it is paramount that the data are stored, analysed and interpreted.

Real-time transmission of corrosion data from electrically based monitoring (e.g. ER, LPR, oxygen probes) has been available for many years although it required the installation of hard wiring from the probe to a control centre. In recent years there have been significant advances in the availability and reliability of wireless communications. This has enabled data to be transmitted relatively inexpensively from corrosion monitoring locations in real time.

Many companies provide software that can take multiple data inputs and correlate them with the corrosion monitoring data. As an example, taking temperature, pressure and flow rate data from a pipeline to estimate an unmitigated corrosion rate. These data are then presented in a corrosion dashboard which can be seen at any location around the world. The above figure shows a typical dashboard that displays real time fluid flow rates, velocities, sand rates and estimated corrosion rates.

Future Considerations
Inspection techniques can measure equipment wall thicknesses very accurately but historically they have required skilled technicians to make the measurements using portable equipment. The cost of this has meant that repeat inspections were undertaken at a frequency of 1-5 years. However, with improvements in technology, the use of permanently installed inspection equipment has blurred the boundary between what was traditionally referred to as Inspection and Monitoring, and the use of inspection techniques as ‘real-time’ corrosion monitoring tools has become more common.

These non-intrusive, highly sensitive technologies are able to work through solid external coatings (e.g. FBE, PE, 3LPP). They are increasingly becoming the preferred methods for corrosion monitoring going forward and offer the option to eliminate intrusive monitoring and the risks associated with it.

Guided wave UT is increasingly being used to monitor long lengths of piping and pipelines. It is probable that these techniques will be used to provide close to 100% coverage of equipment to provide real time measurements at all locations. This would be a key step towards intelligent equipment which self identifies problems.

Corrosion monitoring and inspection programmes can generate large volumes of data which are often reviewed in isolation. There have been significant advances in data analytics (so called “Big Data”), artificial intelligence and machine learning. These technologies can rapidly analyse vast quantities of structured (e.g. data) and unstructured (e.g. reports) information to provide insights that may have been missed.

Finally, engineers and technologists continue to find new and improved methods for monitoring and inspection. Perhaps one day corrosion may be eliminated but until then it is certain that better methodologies for monitoring and inspection will continue to appear.

Young Engineer Programme (YEP)

ICorr’s Young Engineer Programme once again broke new ground as it held its first ever meeting online in May, for the reveal of its 2020 case study.

The grand surroundings of the Royal Over-Seas League might have been replaced with the homespun comforts of participants’ living rooms, but the content of the meeting remained as topical as ever with Steve Paterson from Arbeadie Consultants Ltd presenting the 2020 case study for the seven participating groups.

Focusing on an onshore titanium pipe corrosion failure, Steve described a scenario where several leaks were experienced in the piping at an onshore glycol desalination plant that required further investigation, giving the participants plenty to think about ahead of presenting their findings in November.

As an experienced technical expert with a deep knowledge of subsea engineering and corrosion management systems, Steve’s puzzling scenario ensured that the 32 participating young engineers – representing 19 companies, each with a wide and interesting variety of specialist backgrounds – had plenty to discuss on the evening.

The young engineer’s broad set of specialities include mechanical and materials engineering, welding, materials and more. These were all put to the test when discussing the desalination plant, which is used to periodically remove the salts from mono-ethylene glycol, used for hydration and corrosion control in gas pipelines from three offshore fields.

With the help of a mentor assigned to assist each group, the young engineers were posed with problems at the end of the presentation. These included proposing root causes for the defect, how to perform a corrosion risk assessment to determine if the plant is safe to operate, suggesting alternative materials, and identifying what mitigation options could be applied to prolong the service life of this section of the desalination plant, among others.

The YEP has been running for a number of years and delivers a technical competency framework that’s consistent with the Institute of Corrosion’s professional standards, to help prepare graduates for entry into the industry with a broad range of knowledge. As well as providing an opportunity to network with likeminded professionals, the programme also offers participants a stepping stone into the industry, and is the first stage in achieving MICorr and CEng status.

In what might be the first of many online meetings, the evening ran according to schedule, although participants and guests had to make their own tea and coffee during the scheduled break. Prior to that though they were entertained by Tim Evans, Caroline Allanach and Danny Burkle who offered a reflection on their 2018 winning case study.

Caroline and Danny discussed how they approached the case study and the fantastic resulting prize of a trip to the 2019 NACE Conference in Nashville, while Tim provided a critical assessment of their reaction and solution to the failure that occurred.

The case study was concluded by a series of questions and answers, before Trevor Osborne from Deepwater Corrosion Services brought the first ever online YEP meeting to a close with a message of thanks. The participants will attend four more lectures before reconvening in November to present their case study.

London Branch

As with other Institute of Corrosion meetings, the branch’s March and April technical presentations had to be cancelled due to the pandemic. The committee held an online meeting under its new chairman, Ben Moorhouse of BP, to discuss how to move forward under the current situation. The committee would like to thank Paul Brooks the outgoing chair for the hard work he put into the branch during his tenure. Contingency plans were discussed to hold a replacement Annual General Meeting and next season’s regular talks (October onwards) via online video conferencing, if they cannot be held in person. Further information will be available in later issues of this magazine, and on the Institute website.

Branch News – Aberdeen Branch

Branch News – Aberdeen Branch

Pictured: Adam Lea-Bischinger, CEng CMgr MEng CMRP Eur Ing, Snr. Consultant with Fokus – Reliability and a Specialist in Asset Management and Performance Improvement.

The branch held its 7th event of the 2019/2020 session, on 27 April. This was the first of 5 technical presentations of the annual joint Institute of Corrosion/MCF (Marine Corrosion Forum) programme, held Online this year over 5 days, due to the COVID crisis. The heavily over-subscribed webinar was jointly chaired by Phil Dent (MCF) and Stephen Tate (ICorr-ABZ) with Lewis Barton (MCF) as webinar manager and with Dr Yunnan Gao (ICorr-ABZ) and Institute of Corrosion HQ jointly promoting.

The branch was very pleased to host Adam Lea-Bischinger, a Snr. Consultant with Fokus – Reliability, who currently holds several roles in Aberdeen including, Branch Chair of IAM – Institute of Asset Management, online course tutor in Asset Management for the University of Aberdeen, and Snr. Advisor to the Board of Pavan Asset Value Managers.

Adam has 15 year’s experience working in maintenance, reliability, asset management and inspection covering major oil and gas, power, mining and infrastructure projects worldwide, and holds a masters degree in Engineering, Materials and Corrosion with post graduate training in Inspection and NDT.

Adam spoke enthusiastically on asset management and how it can deliver value to an organisation. He carefully described the six core elements of asset management, the work of IAM, and the development and roll-out of ISO 55000:2014 which defines terminology, requirements and guidance for implementing, maintaining and improving an effective asset management system, and gave examples of UK and overseas companies operating the ISO 55000 system, including many utilities, major transport operators and drilling companies, who all having significant investments to protect and maintain for their full life-cycle.

The now established standard has three key parts:
ISO 55000 – Asset Management – Overview, Principles and Terminology
ISO 55001 – Asset Management – Management systems – Requirements
ISO 55002 – Asset Management – Management systems – Guidelines for the application of ISO 55001

According to the IAM, “These three international standards are important not only for their content, but because they represent a global consensus on what asset management is and what it can do to increase value generated by all organizations.”

The conceptual model, developed by IAM to show the core elements of the ISO 55000 series standard containing six main groups and thirty nine subjects is detailed below:

• Strategy & Planning
  • Asset Management 
• Demand Analysis
  • Strategic Planning
  • Asset Management 

• Organisation & People  • Procurement & Supply 
 Chain Management  
• Asset Management 
• Organisational 
• Organisational Culture
  • Competence 

• Asset Information
  • Asset Information 
• Asset Information 
  • Asset Information 
• Data & Information 

• Decision Making  
• Capital Investment 
 Decision Making
  • Operations & 
 Maintenance Decision 
• Lifecycle Value 
• Resourcing Strategy
  • Shutdown/Outage 

• Lifecycle Delivery  
• Technical Standards
  • Asset Creation/
  • Systems Engineering  
• Configuration 
  • Maintenance Delivery
  • Reliability Engineering
  • Asset Operations  
• Resource 
  • Shutdown/Outage 
  • Fault & Incident 
• Asset Disposal

• Risk & Review
• Risk Management  
• Contingency Planing  
• Sustainable 
• Management of 
• Asset Health Monitoring  
• AM System Monitoring  
• Management Review
  • Asset Costing & 
  • Stakeholder 

The importance of team-working and good communication was heavily stressed, so as to achieve good LOF – Life of Field Design, and to avoid the too often prevailing SILO (compartmentalised) type mentality within organisations.

An extensive Q&A followed with questions on topics such as the use of ‘Hands-Free’ asset management software, conditioning monitoring, cyber security threats from wireless devices, and the management of ‘Late Life’ assets. Various aspects of implementation of ISO 55000 guidance were also discussed and highlighted global differences in asset management methods and regulation.
Following from the success of the April webinar with MCF which had an attendance exceeding 70 on all 5 days, it is now planned that the Institute of Corrosion will work together with MCF to continue the close co-operation now established, for its July meeting, in Birmingham, with webinars running between 6-10 July 2020, as the resumption of ‘Face to Face’ meetings is not being expected before that date.

On the 29th April, members of the Aberdeen Branch also participated in the online CED Working Day and Symposium on ‘Corrosion Control in Transport and Infrastructure’, with Alistair Seton of the Aberdeen Committee chairing the Oil and Gas Working Group.

There has been much debate of late concerning the impacts of the coronavirus outbreak, but both the Institute of Corrosion/MCF Webinars and the CED Online event, has proven beyond doubt that such obstacles can be overcome and that the demand for corrosion learning by whatever method, is as strong as ever.

As usual. full details of future branch events can be found on the ICorr Website, or by contacting: Copies of the majority of past branch presentations can be found at:, and a photo gallery for all Aberdeen events may be found at:

It should be noted that the planned Aberdeen event of Tuesday 23 June – ‘Industrial visit (Oceaneering), an Alternative / Interactive Industrial Event’, is currently postponed (awaiting Scottish Government instructions), with a new date to be advised, as soon as is possible.

Engineering Council Registrations – First CEng via SOE Registration Agreement

We have now recommenced receiving applications from our professional members, and Patrick Eyles of British Pipeline Agency is the first to go through the complete process and Professional Review Interview (by Zoom) successfully, and been confirmed by SOE Marking Panel. Congratulations Patrick.

Institute of Corrosion members, previously registered with EC through SEE, have now had their registrations transferred to SOE.

We are looking forward to a continuing successful agreement with SOE and registering more of our members with the Engineering Council.
David Harvey, EC Registration Co-ordinator.