In the oil and gas industry, corrosion is one of the top causes of pipeline failure. Pipeline failure is understandably one of the public's leading fears when it comes to the oil industry, and so proper detection and preventative measures are key to maintaining pipeline integrity.
Let's take a look at how to detect and prevent pipeline corrosion.
How to Detect Pipe Corrosion
Corrosion can originate inside or outside of the pipes in a pipeline. The causes of internal versus external corrosion vary widely. External corrosion starts with a failure of the coating; internal corrosion is a matter of chemistry, product in the line, and flow. No matter where the corrosion originates, however, it can spread to other areas; internal corrosion that spreads to affect external surfaces causes a leak, and vice versa. To find its origin and detect other areas affected by corrosion, a non destructive testing (NDT) service, such as Nortech Advanced NDT, is part of the team to detect and mitigate the problem. We regularly test pipelines to detect issues that include pipe corrosion:
· Pipeline owners and operators place high-tech equipment (Smart Pigs) into the pipeline with the product, and as they move through the line they can detect thinning, deformation, and other potential problems
· We then perform a visual inspection of suspected locations to detect obvious signs of damage, like pitting, cracks, or deformation
· Test the surface of the exposed pipe to detect, measure, and repair any surface cracking.
· Use ultrasonic testing to detect thinning walls or signs of corrosion inside the pipeline
· Employ advanced inspection methods to accurately measure anomalies, and calculate pipe strength
How to Prevent Pipe Corrosion
The best way to prevent pipe corrosion is to have tightly adhered protective coating over 100% of the surface. Employing routine maintenance and treating all cases of corrosion prevents pipeline failure and corrosion-related accidents. It also helps ensure a pipeline remains secure and safe for the public. Maintenance, however, isn’t the only way to prevent pipeline corrosion and to protect the public. Additional ways to prevent corrosion include:
· Using an electrical current as cathodic protection to prevent galvanic corrosion of the pipeline
· Mixing the product with corrosion inhibitors, which are substances that can reduce contamination and corrosion
· Using corrosive-resistant materials like plastic, some alloys or stainless steel
· Applying an epoxy or specialized coating during the pipe manufacturing process
When data from the “Smart Pigs” show areas suspected of not being secure, they may be subject to a pipeline integrity assessment. If a line fails any part of this assessment, the owner will be required to perform repairs. These actions need to occur before the pipeline leaks!
What Happens When Pipe Corrosion is Undetected?
Corrosion is commonly caused by a pipe’s exposure to oxygen, bacteria and moisture. It’s a natural process that can occur in the open air or underground. Of course, undetected corrosion can be disastrous and lead to pipeline failure, which can lead to the leakage of potentially hazardous materials and noxious gases, which could pose a grave risk to public health and safety and even lead to fires or explosions.
Regular inspections, maintenance, repair and other preventative measures can protect a pipeline against destructive corrosion. Contact us today for more information.