Research underway at Scotland’s University of Aberdeen is poised to provide a new model for corrosion assessment to enhance oil and gas safety.
The goal is to shed light on how corrosion develops spatially on steel pipelines and vessels, to improve replacement decisions and integrity management. Researchers say this type of corrosion research is breaking new ground and will give deeper insights into the deterioration of oil and gas systems.
|“The deterioration of assets through corrosion damage is a critical problem for the industry,” says Dr. Neill Renton.|
The petrochem industry is stepping up attention to monitoring and maintaining aging assets. Last year, the UK launched the KP4 initiative, which provides guidelines for the inspection and maintenance of aging installations.
Determining Pipeline Life
Many existing failure models allow for the inclusion of one active corrosion defect in the assessment. While these calculations can incorporate variability in the engineering problem, they do not take into account the effect of multiple areas of corrosion, researchers say.
The current research provides new understanding of how the spatial variability of corrosion can impact these systems, said Dr. Neill Renton, head of chemical engineering within the School of Engineering.
“The deterioration of assets through corrosion damage is a critical problem for the industry,” Renton said. “The determination of remaining pipeline or equipment life and the ability to plan suitable maintenance and inspection programs has a key part to play.”
He added: “Spatial correlation between areas of corrosion is not typically addressed in standard assessments. The methodology we are developing will extend existing models and provide new ones which can help engineers make timely decisions on replacement and shutdown.”
New Testing Technology
The project is using a new-technology testing tool developed by UK-based CorDEX Instruments Ltd., which has a base in Aberdeen. CorDEX is an ISO 9001:2008-certified manufacturer of hand-held inspection and non-destructive testing devices for use within hazardous (potentially explosive) environments.
The research team is using CorDEX’s new UT5000 Intrinsically Safe Ultrasonic Tester, which measures metal thickness for NDT and predictive maintenance on pipelines and fixed equipment in hazardous locations.
The system includes CorDEX’s CONNECT program, which uses RFID and software to tag measurements with their location, then organizes the data, giving the engineer a view of the pipeline at any specific location.
“It was crucial for us to have the most precise readings possible to provide a robust foundation for us to base our findings on,” said Renton. The equipment “has allowed us to gain exact readings to verify our research.”
The research is part of a wider corrosion project funded by the National Subsea Research Institute (NSRI).