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Home / Issue Archive / 2010 / September #9 / Corrosion Kills Profits! So Why Not Invest in the Best Technologies?

№ 9 (September 2010)

Corrosion Kills Profits! So Why Not Invest in the Best Technologies?

   For the first time ever, Russia is hosting EUROCORR, Europe’s most prestigeous gathering of specialists in corrosion science and engineering. The event in Moscow, 13-17 September, is organized under the auspices of Gubkin State Oil&Gas University and draws participants from around the globe, including the United States.

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   Here, OGE talks to pipe manufacturers, scientists and corrosion professionals to learn why corrosion management matters, who can work for Gazprom and which coatings are in highest demand in Russia, one of the world’s largest oil and gas industries.

Beam me up Scotty! The bacteria down here wants me for dinner!

   Who says corrosion control has to be boring? Here’s the latest from the frontiers of science where “no (oil) man has gone before.”
Oil&Gas Eurasia begins its Eurocorr round table with a discussion with Dr. David Horsup, Division Vice President, Research and Development at Nalco Energy Services in Houston.

   Nalco scientists and engineers today are pushing the boundaries of research into corrosion control well beyond traditional chemistry and metallurgy. Among other things, they are employing gene sequencing techniques to identify corrosive bacteria and to target its vulnerabilities. Scientists and engineers are also adapting “smart technologies” from the world of IT to remotely enable corrosion mitigation in hydrocarbon processing and pipeline transport systems found far from human habitats.

   Solids that settle along the bottom of pipelines – particularly in gathering systems that are not pigged – shield bacteria and the corrosive chemicals they produce from traditional chemical corrosion inhibitors.

   Downhole, many grades of corrosion-resistant alloys can be used in place of carbon steel tubulars in fields that produce very corrosive fluids (such as the sour fields found in Tatarstan and around Astrakhan.) But the higher the grade of the alloy, the higher the capital cost of production; and so corrosion – whose cost to prevent must be weighed against the cost of production down time, well repair, and the impact on operational safety, the environment and the corporate brand – becomes an issue for the executive suite as well as for the laboratory.

OGE: What do you see as the main challenges for the corrosion industry?
Horsup: I would say that the major challenges in upstream oil and gas fall into three main areas:  remotely-operated facilities, produced-fluid chemistry and microbially-influenced corrosion.

   First, we need more inherently reliable facilities. These may be unmanned facilities (pipelines, gathering systems, production facilities) where corrosion needs to be mitigated. And because a lot of new production is in very remote locations – in deserts, in Siberia and in deep water – these facilities can be made more reliable through smart systems.

   A smart system, for example, would be able to readily identify when the corrosion rate had increased significantly, and then corrective action could be taken immediately. These smart systems rely heavily on automated technology so as to be able to remotely see corrosion both internally and externally and to proactively address the issue.

   An example would be a smart system on a remotely-located pipeline that would detect abnormalities with respect to the corrosion rate, and send a signal to a control unit that would immediately activate a chemical injection system. This system would increase the level of inhibitor to bring the corrosion rate back in line.

   I’m speaking here primarily about internal corrosion, which in many cases, can be more aggressive than external corrosion. The infrastructure could be anything. It could be down-hole, it could be a pipeline, or it could be a separation facility. Smart systems are really the way the industry is moving. The idea is to automate as much as possible, to take proactive measures, and to minimize human intervention.

OGE: How receptive is the industry to these smart technologies and can you comment specifically on the attitudes of the Russian industry?
Horsup: Smart technology makes up a very small part of the industry today, but a lot of major companies, including Nalco, are working on technologies to make this a reality. Corrosion is a challenge everywhere. The challenge in Russia in general, is the adoption of the latest corrosion-control  technologies. The corrosion challenges in this region are severe and this requires the adoption of industry best practices.

OGE: What technologies are used to check pipelines in a “not-so-smart” world?
Horsup: One technique used to indicate the corrosion rate in a pipeline, involves inserting corrosion coupons into the production fluids. These strips of metal matched to the pipeline metallurgy remain in place for a set period (typically three months). Upon their removal, the average corrosion rate can be calculated. Another method is the use of electrochemical probles. These provide corrosion rate information over a period of hours or days depending upon the device.  But sometimes, by the time such devices detect a problem, the damage has been done. In many locations in Russia, if a monitoring program is in place, it most likely involves corrosion coupons. More recent advances have yet to be widely embraced.

OGE: You mentioned “three challenges”. What else?
Horsup:  Another big challenge is the nature of the fluids that are now being produced. In many parts of Russia, the oil is extremely corrosive. Its main corrosives are H2S and carbon dioxide. Additionally, in many fields, the temperature of the produced fluids is getting higher; the amount of water is increasing, and the salinity is increasing. You put all of this together and you get highly corrosive fluids.
Plus, many older fields produce solids – sand or clay. Not only can these solids accelerate failure through an erosion-corrosion mechanism, they can also collect at the bottom of a pipeline and lead to very aggressive localized under-deposit corrosion.  
Some of this corrosion is caused by bacteria that collect in the bottom of the pipe in what we call the 6-o’clock position. Bacteria can produce H2S and more complex acids as well. The challenge is to prevent the bacteria from accumulating in the first place, because if the bacteria becomes covered with sand and other solids, it is harder for any chemical treatment, biocide or corrosion inhibitor to do its job.
Solids that accumulate on top of bacteria at the bottom of a pipeline also act like a sponge, creating what we call “parasitic consumption” of corrosion inhibitors. The corrosion inhibitor is adsorbed onto the surface of this material and never reaches the metal surface it was designed to protect.
We first need to remove these solids from the line. One of Nalco’s latest technologies, Clean n Cor®, addresses this problem. It is a chemical treatment that you inject and it cleans away oily solids that accumulate in the bottom of a pipeline. At the same time, our treatment lays down a corrosion inhibiting film on the interior metal surface. Nalco introduced this patented technology, and it is especially useful in pipelines that cannot be pigged. It is also highly effective in water injection systems and has resulted in increased water injection rates.

OGE:  And the third challenge?
Horsup: The last thing which is critical is being able to control microbially influenced corrosion. (See Case Study p. 39, “Optimization of a Microbial Control Program to Minimize the Risk of Microbiologically Influenced Corrosion.) Nalco has developed a technology to identify what strains of bacteria are in these deposits. On the basis of this we can design the right mitigation program for the specific types of bacteria that are present.
Historically, there has been very little research performed with respect to identifying bacteria. What has been done has been very generic and there has been little science done to determine the right biocide and mitigation strategy to use in a particular situation.
So we have leveraged some of the science that is used in sequencing genes and we have brought that science into the oil industry. We have used genetic sequencing technology to determine what specific bacteria are present, so that we can specifically target a mitigation program. This has never been done before in the oil and gas industry. Until you specifically know what bacteria you are dealing with, it is very difficult to develop the optimal mitigation program.

NACE International, the Corrosion Society, Executive Director Robert Chalker
OGE: The upcoming EUROCORR 2010 congress will take place for the first time in Russia. What does it mean to you and to the world corrosion science and industry?
CHALKER: Having EUROCORR in Russia highlights the fact that corrosion is a problem across the globe. Corrosion is a silent killer of the world’s critical infrastructure (water and wastewater systems, bridges, energy distribution systems, storage tanks, nuclear facilities, etc.) and this conference is a great opportunity for the corrosion profession to work together to begin to address the problem. In a recent report, the World Corrosion Organization stated that corrosion costs the world economy over $2 trillion annually. This threatens our way of life and challenges us to be more proactive in addressing the problem. We can no longer wait to address corrosion.

OGE: Why corrosion protection issues are so important for the oil and gas sector?
CHALKER: Corrosion is a key challenge for the oil and gas industry. Many of the key assets in the industry have reached, will be reaching or have already exceeded their design life and without corrosion prevention and mitigation we will lose these vital assets. In a 2002 report, the cost of corrosion to the oil and gas industry was estimated to be over $8 billion annually. Without a strong oil and gas industry much of the general world economy will be impacted. Recent failures in the United States have highlighted this point. From the failure on the Alaskan Slope to the recent failure in Michigan corrosion is compromising the oil and gas industry and leads to a potentially huge environment impacts, threatens personal safety, or destroys key assets.

OGE: How much money can we save by implementing corrosion protection solutions?
CHALKER: It has been estimated that almost one-third of the cost of corrosion can be avoided if proper corrosion prevention and mitigation techniques are applied.

OGE: Can you name the most important solutions proposed to the industry during the last five years?
CHALKER: I am not sure if there is one key solution, but I think that the new approach of corrosion management is one of the biggest changes. Corrosion management is looking at the whole asset from design to replacement and determining what are the corrosion considerations at each phase of the asset’s life. By moving to this thought process we are better able to understand what the constraints are on a system and how we can best prepare each phase of the systems functional life and address corrosion earlier. By having a corrosion consideration in the design of the structure we will have the greatest impact on extending the life of the structure. With corrosion management we are looking at what is needed for the material selection, design, location of the system, type of product in the system, what industry standards, and training are needed to enable the owners to achieve the desired life of the asset.

OGE: What role does your organization play in corrosion prevention on a global scale?
CHALKER: NACE International, the Corrosion Society, is a professional technical society that offers technical training and certification programs, sponsors conferences, and produces industry standards and reports, publications and software.  Established in 1943, NACE has more than 23,000 members worldwide and is dedicated to promoting public safety, protecting the environment, and reducing the economic impact of corrosion by advancing the knowledge of corrosion engineering and science. NACE International is the leading society for corrosion professionals in the world.

Head of Corrosion for TOTAL E&P, Chairman of EFC WP13 “Corrosion
in Oil & Gas” Thierry Chevrot
OGE: The upcoming EUROCORR 2010 congress will take place for the first time in Russia. What does it mean to you and to the world corrosion science and industry?
CHEVROT: Corrosion constitutes a very costly problem around the globe, and therefore, remains a truly international subject. Hosting EUROCORR 2010 in Russia shows the commitment of European corrosion professionals to work and communicate internationally, to share experience with others, and to look for innovative solutions to control corrosion throughout Europe. Moreover, for the Oil and Gas Working Party (WP13), Russia is a major player with numerous, large scale projects, and extensive oil and gas reserves.

OGE: Can you, please, name the main directions in corrosion protection that are in focus of the international research and development today?
CHEVROT: In oil and gas production, large-scale projects in  increasingly difficult conditions (high pressure, high temperature, high H2S levels, deeply buried reservoirs) mean that existing materials have to be used to their limits, and new materials have to be developed. The development of mega projects, with extremely long design lives (up to 50 years), also means that the knowledge of corrosion mechanisms and their mitigation is more and more important in order to make these projects economically viable.

OGE: How much money can we save by implementing corrosion protection solutions?
CHEVROT: Several studies have been carried out to try to pinpoint the cost of corrosion in the oil and gas sector. Of course, there is no standard way of calculating the corrosion costs, and the results can vary, but in the late 1990s, the cost of corrosion was evaluated to be around $0.30 to $0.50 per barrel. However, the cost of corrosion can be huge if one cannot manage to control it properly with associated HSE issues, environmental damage, and loss of production.

OGE: Can you name the most important solutions proposed to the industry during the last five years?
CHEVROT: The extension of the use of existing materials to new environments has been a major contributor to reducing the cost of corrosion in the last few years. Similarly, a more in-depth knowledge of corrosion mechanisms has helped to propose corrosion control solutions that were adequate, while guaranteeing the economical viability of projects.

Professor at Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Mines de St. Etienne, head of Physical Mechanics and Interfaces Dept.
Krzysztof Wolski
OGE: The upcoming EUROCORR 2010 congress will take place for the first time in Russia. What does it mean to you and to the world corrosion science and industry?
Wolski: It is exciting to have this opportunity to discover Russian R&D activities in corrosion related to the oil and gas sector.

OGE: Can you name the main areas in corrosion protection that are the focus of international research and development today?
Wolski: Understanding corrosion and failures under stress, namely Stress Corrosion Cracking phenomena and building a quantitative model to predict the remaining lifetime of components.

OGE: Why are corrosion protection issues so important for the oil and gas sector?
Wolski: Because – if solved successfully – they can help increase the reliability of installations.

OGE: How much money can be saved by implementing corrosion protection solutions?
Wolski: A lot, I expect, but long-term programs (three-year
Ph. D. studies) must be systematically launched.

OGE: Can you name the most important solutions proposed to the industry during the last five years, including those implemented or proposed by your company?
Wolski: Accelerated stress corrosion cracking tests on small notched specimens to classify different grades of structural materials in terms of their resistance to environmentally-assisted cracking. Understanding surface stresses redistribution to delay crack initiation and modeling crack-tip dislocations interactions to estimate the remaining lifetime of structural materials.

ChTPZ Commercial Director Yaroslav Zhdan
OGE: What technological solutions has ChTPZ developed to protect pipes from corrosion?
ZHDAN: Since 2000 ChTPZ’s pipe-welding shop has featured a technological line for applying external polymer coatings (epoxy, three-layer polyethylene and polypropylene) on pipes with a 219-millimeter diameter and bigger. A second line was launched in 2006. The total capacity of both lines is 600,000 tons per year. Coupled with advanced coating technologies, this equipment ensures Chelyabinsk-made large-diameter pipes comply with all modern requirements for pipes with anti-corrosive coatings. Last year, ChTPZ launched a line for applying internal coatings on pipes with a 508-millimeter diameter and bigger. The project aims to meet future requirements of major buyers of ChTPZ products – companies working in the fuel and energy sector. This technology envisages the application of a smooth coating on the internal surface of pipes, making it possible to slash the costs of pumping of oil and gas. At the facility, where we produce 400,000 tons of pipes per year, we are also able to apply internal protective coatings which help extend the serviceable life of oil and gas pipelines. In general, external and internal coatings provide long-term corrosion protection for ChTPZ products – on average, these pipes can last for more than 30 years. PNTZ (Pervouralsky Novotrubny Zavod – a pipe factory which is part of the ChTPZ Group – OGE) manufactures and delivers 13HFA and 08HMFBChA class steel oil and gas pipes with high corrosion resistance in operating flowlines to the market. These pipes’ reliability has been proven over many years of operation by a great number of oil and gas producers. PNTZ adheres to a client-oriented policy. For instance, company experts have developed special H2S-resistant pipes to be used in pipelines at Gazprom sour gas fields. Gazprom VNIIGAZ has issued a positive statement confirming these pipes comply with Gazprom’s requirements and its subsidiaries have planned stand and bypass tests.

OGE: Did these solutions require retooling your manufacturing facilities?
ZHDAN: Launching a facility for applying protective coatings is an inseparable part of our complex program to upgrade pipe manufacturing processes at ChTPZ and PNTZ. Each technological line is a large investment project worth several million Euros and envisages installing highly productive equipment and using modern technologies. For instance, the line for applying internal coatings cost ChTPZ 16 million Euros. The facility features a unit for internal pipe flushing, a unit for preliminary heating, shotblast equipment, a coating unit, a drying chamber, etc.

OGE: What further developments are planned in terms of protecting pipes from corrosion?
ZHDAN: The application of protective coatings is a dynamically developing technology. Today, practically all large-diameter pipes delivered by ChTPZ are protectively coated since major consumers of these pipes – oil and gas companies – consider extending a pipe’s serviceable life with coating to be a rather important argument in favor of this technology. As far as internal coating is concerned, we can say that it is being predominantly applied on large trunkline pipes in order to increase the volume of shipped gas. There are also individual  cases of using coating to ensure anti-corrosive protection for pipes with a 508-millimeter diameter and bigger (for example, internally-coated  pipes used in the Vladivostok drinking water supply system).

VMZ chief specialist on anticorrosion coatings Oleg Rayev
OGE: What technological solutions has Vyksa Metallurgical Plant (VMZ) developed to protect pipes from corrosion?
RAYEV: In order to secure permanent anti-corrosion protection of pipes, VMZ uses the following types of coatings:
– two- and three-layer polyethylene coatings;
– three-layer polypropylene coatings;
– one- and two-layer epoxy coatings.
To secure temporary anti-corrosive protection of pipes and train carriage wheels during storage or transportation, VMZ specialists apply paint coatings based on waterborne materials and treat metals with oils.
Coatings based on two-component epoxy paints are used to ensure protection of the interior surface of pipes.
OGE: Did these solutions require retooling your manufacturing facilities?
RAYEV: In order to provide a high level of anti-corrosive protection for pipes, in 2007 VMZ built a specialized technological line for applying protective coatings. Currently VMZ has five lines for applying external coatings and one for internal coatings.

OGE: Do you have further plans to develop anti-corrosive technologies?
RAYEV: Yes, of course. We plan to build a line for applying internal anti-corrosive coatings for small- and medium-diameter pipes (less than 530 millimeters in diameter). We are also looking into setting up a new facility for pipe conservation in Shop #5 where we produce casing pipes.

OGE: Do you plan to manufacture new products related to anti-corrosive protection?
RAYEV: VMZ plans to start using new types of coatings that ensure temporary anti-corrosive protection soon.
Yuri Rachkovsky, Sales & Technical Service repesentative, Hempel Russia
OGE: What technical solutions in corrosion protection does your company provide to the oil and gas market?
RACHKOVSKY: For Russia’s oil and gas sector we offer competitive solutions for protecting metalwork and tank farms. Our systems are made taking into account the requirements of Russian companies and cover all climatic zones of our big country. For example, for coastal (maritime) regions, we recommend painting exterior surfaces without the first, base coat which contains zinc (HEMPADUR MASTIC 45880 – 200 micromoles and HEMPATHANE TOPCOAT 55210 – 50 micromoles of dry film thickness), due to the complexity of applying such base coats in offshore conditions and the tough requirements which must be met to prepare the surface for a base coat which contains zinc. In all other regions we recommend triple-layer systems for protecting exterior surfaces of newly-built metalwork, equipment and tanks. The first layer should be the zinc-containing epoxy coating HEMPADUR ZINC 17360, which provides cathodic protection in case of minor mechanical damage to paint coatings and excellent adhesion of the entire system. The next layer should by all means be a thick coat of epoxy which provides the basic barrier protection – HEMPADUR MASTIC 45880, HEMPADUR 17630 or HEMPADUR 47200. The finishing coating, which protects the entire system from damage from ultraviolet rays, is usually a polyurethane enamel like HEMPATHANE TOPCOAT 55210 or HEMPATHANE HS 55610, completing the corrosion protection process.
To protect interior surfaces, HEMPEL recommends both the less expensive HEMPADUR LTC 15030/15130 and HEMPADUR 85671, which, among other features, is highly resistant to chemicals (for instance, the sulphur content in oil which can be up to 8 percent), which is an important quality for Russian oil producers. HEMPADUR 87540 interior coating is a triple-layer coating which has a number of competitive advantages – it doesn’t contain solvent and is applied in a single layer at one go – 400-700 micromoles.
We should also point out the professional project management conducted by our specialists both during the initial stage when systems are selected and during work and repair.

OGE: Did you have to retool manufacturing facilities to make these products?
RACHKOVSKY: All the products HEMPEL delivers to Russia are manufactured at European plants and included in the standard range of items at all manufacturing facilities. However, we do not rule out the possibility of developing new products that meet the requirements of Russian customers; but this is more likely to happen after completing construction of a plant which was finally sanctioned by HEMPEL A/S in August this year.

OGE: Do you have plans to develop corrosion protection products?  What new products will you launch this year?
RACHKOVSKY: We plan to introduce the following products to Russia soon: HEMPADUR FAST DRY 17410 – a new, quick-drying epoxy material, which is suitable for coating in factory environments; we also plan to test and certify the new coating for contact with liquids – HEMPADUR 35760, which is an epoxyphenol material classified as novolak. It has a number of advantages such as a lack of solvents and can be applied in thick layers at one go (from  250 to 600 micromoles). It is also used for standard air-free equipment.

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