In the United States, there are more than 1,382,569 million miles of natural gas and liquid petroleum pipelines. These types of piping systems can rust or corrode when their iron rich metals oxidize from exposure to natural elements — such as rain, snow, wind, heat, and cold. Damage from corrosion costs the oil and gas industry millions of dollars each year. There are several ways to help prevent costly corrosion.
Types of Corrosion
First of all, there are several different types of corrosion that can lead to pipeline leaks, spills, breaks, or even complete piping systems failure.
Stress corrosion or cracked pipes in oil and gas piping systems occur when there is high pressure inside the pipe. This causes issues with oil and gas flow when corrosive agents (like water and soil) appear outside of the pipe. The combination causes visible branch-like cracks to appear on the exterior and interior of the pipe.
Weight loss corrosion can occur when the metal, pipe fittings, or pipe flanges start to become thin from corrosion. By measuring the diameter or weight of pipes, you can see if weight loss has occurred.
Galvanic corrosion or bimetallic corrosion is caused when dissimilar metals come into electrical contact with each other while submerged in an electrolyte, such as water. It is one of the most common forms of corrosion.
Corrosion fatigue is when a pipeline experiences stress or fatigue in a corrosive environment. The joint action of cyclic loading and corrosion damage any protective lining on piping systems. Pipes become brittle and begin to crack. Unlike stress corrosion, corrosion fatigue cracks are transgranular rather than branched.
How to Prevent Corrosion
If you start with the right design, plan, and monitoring system, you can help to prevent pipeline corrosion. Once your piping systems are in place, you should oil and lubricate pipes, fittings, and branch connections. Using a rust remover can penetrate into the pores of the metal and dissolve it. You can even lubricate the inside of the pipe, so long as it is safe to use with gas, to help prevent buildup.
You can also prevent pipeline corrosion if you paint on an epoxy coating. This coating creates a barrier between the pipeline and water or soil, which would otherwise corrode the pipe.
Another way to prevent corrosion is to try using a different material that may be less susceptible to corrosion. You can use stainless steel, fiberglass, polyethylene, polyvinyl chloride, or metal plating.
If you still experience problems with pipeline corrosion, you may need to replace part or all of your piping systems. While that may seem like a big expense, doing it before the problem gets out of hand could save you money in the long run. To learn more about replacing your piping systems and the equipment you need to do so, contact us today.