Protecting Pipes, Valves and Vessels with One Easy Solution


By George Sykes, Oil & Gas, AkzoNobel

The 10 countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) represent one of the most dynamic parts of the global energy system, and their energy demand has grown by 60 percent over the past 15 years. In a region where an estimated 65 million people remain without electricity, projects to expand capacity for refining, petrochemicals and power are critical infrastructure for economic and social growth.

To support plans for increased power generation, a new-build geothermal power plant was
commissioned in the region. Deadlines were tight and costs needed to be minimized in order to
complete the project within budget. To meet these ambitious targets, a novel approach to coating selection was required.

The Challenge

Efficiency, waste reduction and cost optimization are major challenges for large industrial projects, and this was no different. Every aspect of the project was scrutinized to improve overall margin and make a profit. Coating specification was identified as a key area in which cost savings needed to be realized. Previous experience in the fabrication of geothermal plants highlighted rework costs and low productivity as major contributors to overall painting costs.

The major challenge was the massive complexity of the project. Large volumes of bulk-supplied items — such as pipes, valves and vessels — would be operating at different temperatures and in various service environments (e.g., beneath insulation). Traditional coating systems are designed to offer corrosion protection over a limited range of service environments and temperatures, so on previous projects like this one, more than seven different types of coatings were needed. 

This level of coating specification complexity has been known to cause:

  • Reduced productivity at the application stage;
  • An increase in application errors, requiring rework and adding cost;
  • Pairing of equipment with coating systems that are wrong for the final operating environment, requiring onsite rework during the construction phase and adding cost and
  • Increased risk of corrosion under insulation (CUI) and other corrosion issues, which can incur higher maintenance and repair costs.

Traditional anti-corrosive solutions had been shown to add cost and complexity, so the project team looked for a proven and reliable alternative solution.

Training was difficult with a painting workforce that rapidly changed, depending on workload, so the challenge was on to control costs and guarantee project delivery on time.

Specification Complexity Reduction: Traditional Coatings vs. the UPC Approach

System Number



Surface Profile,
microns (mils)

Traditional System

UPC System

Uninsulated Carbon Steel-1

-45ºC to 60ºC
(-50ºF to 140ºF)

NACE No. 2
SSPC-SP10 Sa2.5


Inorganic Zinc Silicate, Epoxy, Polyurethane

Alkylated Amine Epoxy

Uninsulated Carbon Steel-2

-45ºC to 120ºC
(-50ºF to 250ºF)

Zinc Epoxy, Epoxy, Polyurethane

Insulated Carbon Steel-1

-45ºC to 60ºC
(-50ºF to 140ºF)

High-Build Epoxy

Insulated Carbon Steel-3

-45ºC to 150ºC
(-50ºF to 300ºF)

Epoxy Phenolic

Insulated Carbon Steel-4

-45ºC to 205ºC
(-50ºF to 400ºF)
Epoxy Novolac or 
Silicone Hybrid

The Solution

After discussion with advisers at International, part of AkzoNobel, the decision was made to use the company’s Universal Pipe Coating (UPC) to paint all pipes, valves and vessels. Standardizing on a single coating system greatly simplified the specification and painting processes, increasing productivity and improving quality. The table above compares the UPC system with traditional solutions.

Based on alkylated amine epoxy (AAE) technology, Interbond 2340UPC is a temperature-resistant coating formulated to provide excellent corrosion protection from -196 degrees C (-321 degrees F) to 230 degrees C (446 degrees F). Designed to improve productivity over traditional epoxy phenolic and inorganic zinc silicate-type systems, the UPC coating also offers these application benefits:

  • Excellent dry-film-thickness (DFT) tolerance to over-application, reducing rework costs;
  • Short overcoating intervals that maximize productivity during the application process;
  • Low temperature cure, down to -5 degrees C (23 degrees F), that reduces heating costs in the winter months and
  • Greater resistance to chalking than traditional epoxy phenolics, improving service life.

Also reported were several additional benefits that helped cut costs and reduce the risk of early failure:

  • Fewer required coats, increasing application productivity and limiting the potential for mistakes;
  • Easier stock management, reducing the amount of wasted stock and
  • Easier application, reducing rework costs.

Applying the UPC Approach with Interbond 2340UPC to all pipes, valves and vessels saved approximately 10 percent on overall rework costs, greatly improved productivity and helped ensure maximum operational performance.

For more articles like this on the UPC approach, visit international-pc.com/upc.

Claims or positions expressed by sponsoring authors do not necessarily reflect the views of TPC, PaintSquare or its editors.

George Sykes, Oil & Gas, AkzoNobel

Based in Shanghai, George Sykes is a product manager, specializing in temperature-resistant coatings, with six years experience in the oil & gas industry. With previous experience in research & development and technical sales, George joined AkzoNobel in the UK before relocating to China in 2018. He holds a bachelor of science degree in chemistry and has presented at seminars and exhibitions on CUI in Europe, the USA and India.