Corrosion Science and Engineering in Action in Oil and Gas
As the world attempts to slow the effects of climate change, many strategies are being explored and employed. With so many new technologies and renewable energy sources being deployed, it can feel like traditional energy and oil and gas assets are being left behind.
Yet recent events have shown that this simply is not the case. The world is a long way from jettisoning oil and gas assets from the energy mix. And effective corrosion management is still key to successful operation of oil and gas assets. This can not only prolong the life of assets and pipelines, but it can reduce the release of toxins and harmful by-products into the environment.
Why corrosion management is crucial in oil and gas assets
Corrosion can lead to the failure of oil and gas assets. The resulting leaks and spills can be dangerous to the environment and human health. It can also increase the cost of operating oil and gas assets by requiring frequent repairs and replacement of corroded components.
Therefore, it is important to implement effective corrosion management strategies to ensure the long-term viability and safe and reliable operation of oil and gas assets.
What causes corrosion in Oil and Gas assets?
Corrosion in oil and gas assets is caused by a combination of factors, including exposure to harsh chemicals and high temperatures. The main cause of corrosion in these assets is the presence of high concentrations of water, and CO2.
High temperatures can accelerate the corrosion process, particularly in areas where CO2 is in contact with water or other liquids. Additionally, high temperatures can cause metal components to expand and contract, which can lead to stress on the materials and accelerate corrosion.
Other factors that can contribute to corrosion in oil and gas assets include exposure to other chemicals, such as sulfur compounds, chlorides, and hydrogen sulfide, as well as the presence of microorganisms, such as bacteria and fungi. Interaction with CO2 and water create an environment that is more corrosive to metal surfaces.
How does corrosion occur in oil and gas assets?
The corrosion of different materials used in oil and gas assets can occur in different ways, depending on the specific properties of the material and the environmental conditions.
The three most common types of corrosion found in Oil and Gas assets are pitting, crevice, and galvanic corrosion:
- Pitting corrosion is the localized corrosion of a metal surface, resulting in small holes or pits. In Oil and Gas assets, pitting corrosion can occur in pipelines, valves, and other components that come into contact with CO2, especially in areas where the CO2 is in contact with water or other liquids.
- Crevice corrosion is a form of localized corrosion that occurs in tight spaces or crevices, such as the area between a gasket and a pipe flange. In oil and gas assets, crevice corrosion can occur in joints and connections, such as flanges and gaskets, that come into contact with CO2.
- Galvanic corrosion is a type of corrosion that occurs when two dissimilar metals are in contact with an electrolyte, such as water or CO2. In oil and gas assets, galvanic corrosion can occur in joints and connections where dissimilar metals, such as steel and aluminum, are used.
For example, carbon steel is a commonly used material in oil and gas assets, but it is highly susceptible to pitting and crevice corrosion in the presence of CO2 and water. Stainless steel, on the other hand, is more resistant to corrosion but can still be affected by high temperatures and the presence of other corrosive agents.
Corrosion Management Strategies in Oil and Gas assets
Currently, there are several strategies that can be used to manage corrosion in oil and gas assets. Of course, regular inspection and maintenance is crucial, as is the use of coatings and inhibitors, and material selection.
Regular inspection and maintenance
Regular inspection and maintenance are essential for early identification and addressing of corrosion problems. This includes visual inspections, non-destructive testing, and monitoring of corrosion rates.
Coatings and inhibitors
Coatings and inhibitors can be used to protect metal surfaces from corrosion. Coatings, such as paint or epoxy, can provide a physical barrier to prevent corrosion. Inhibitors, such as corrosion inhibitors, can be added to slow down the corrosion process. These are commonly used in oil and gas assets and can be effective in preventing corrosion, but it’s important to note that the selection of the right coating or inhibitor depends on the specific conditions of the asset, and regular monitoring and maintenance is still needed.
Material selection is a crucial aspect of corrosion management in oil and gas assets. The use of corrosion-resistant materials, such as stainless steel, can significantly reduce the risk of corrosion. However, it’s important to note that no material is completely immune to corrosion, and other strategies such as coatings and inhibitors should be considered as well.
The future of corrosion management in oil and gas assets
Managing corrosion in oil and gas assets requires a multi-faceted approach, and the best strategy for a specific asset will depend on the specific conditions and materials used. For example:
- Regular inspection and maintenance are essential for identifying and addressing corrosion problems early on, but they can be costly and time-consuming
- Coatings and inhibitors can be effective in preventing corrosion, but they can also be costly and require regular monitoring and maintenance
- Material selection can significantly reduce the risk of corrosion, but it’s important to note that no material is completely immune to corrosion
Corrosion can lead to unsafe operation of oil and gas assets, as well as increasing the cost of operating by requiring frequent repairs and replacement of corroded components.
While current corrosion management strategies are effective at controlling corrosion at oil and gas assets, it is important to continue to research, experiment, and develop innovative techniques for corrosion management. As the technology and conditions in oil and gas assets evolve, so should the strategies used to manage corrosion.
Every improvement that we can make will improve the viability and safety of our oil and gas assets. The Institute of Corrosion is in the perfect position to help industry and academia deliver these improvements.
To learn more about how the Institute of Corrosion is helping to promote and deliver greater safety and operational effectiveness in the world’s oil and gas assets, and discover how you can get involved, please email the Institute of Corrosion.