Crucial corrosion protection for the oil and gas industry

Louise Smyth

Gary Spangler explains how advanced corrosion protection technology can help operators extract more value from their assets

The process of extracting and transporting oil and gas has traditionally been beset by challenges. Over the years, however, advances in technology have meant both improvements in upstream and midstream processes and the ability to extract from ever-more challenging environments. Despite this improvement, some things don’t change. Conditions are invariably demanding – especially offshore, where corrosion is a constant threat. At the same time, demands to cut capital costs and maximise profits are juxtaposed with a growing number of environmental regulations.

The role of corrosion protection

It’s little wonder, then, that coating systems able to protect vital plants from harsh conditions – as well as help ensure longer life and enable more efficient functioning – have become an essential factor for engineers to include in their designs. Everyday maintenance of assets in these challenging environments is not a practical option; so coatings must be able to resist saltwater corrosion, UV rays and wide temperature ranges to prolong their working life.

Anything with a thread is at risk – as are tanks, valves, flow sensors, blowout preventers, manifolds, seals, gaskets, tooling, and a myriad of other vital equipment and components. It’s a long list of vulnerable parts that need protecting, and that protection involves both upfront and ongoing maintenance costs in such difficult and dangerous conditions.

Failure to address these environmentally related issues can result in more than disruptive equipment failures – it can result in major failures and costly accidents. If we look at the pure financial costs, a recent NACE International study found that in the USA alone, corrosion costs the oil and gas exploration and production (E&P) sector more than US$1 billion.

The bottom line is that choosing the best industrial coating – one that delivers intumescent and heat-resistant properties, high levels of abrasion resistance, and extended durability to increase component life – will make a substantial difference in both safety and profitability.

The challenges posed, and the damage caused by, offshore corrosion often forces oil and gas producers to weigh the efficacy of both preventive and maintenance costs. Recent experience has shown that early investment in corrosion prevention via corrosion-resistant equipment may initially entail increased costs, but in the long run can lead to reduced operational expenses and, in some cases, helps avoid major operational and environmental issues.

Teflon PTFE corrosion protection coatings the best option

The only question remaining is how to select the best and most cost-effective coating for a particular environment – something able to resist corrosion for a design life of 20 years or more. Although standard coating solutions such as cadmium and zinc plating have been the mainstays of the industry, these simply do not have the required properties to provide adequate, long-lasting protection in harsh offshore environments.

In such conditions, where corrosion, UV light and extreme temperatures are often the norm, polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE)-based coating systems offer considerable improvements in performance and durability.

Teflon PTFE coatings from the Chemours Company offer excellent non-stick properties that help to ensure the efficient operation of parts and equipment while reducing wear. They also offer increased corrosion protection. In addition, they demonstrate temperature resistance at both extremes of the scale – from -200°C (-328°F) up to 260°C (500°F).

These industrial coatings have become a popular choice as an integral surface component for a wide variety of mission-critical components throughout the oil and gas industry.

There are several key benefits from using Teflon fluoropolymer, including the high UV resistance as compared to other PTFE coatings. Due to fluoropolymer coatings’ durable corrosion resistance – as demonstrated by unrivaled results in salt spray tests – they boost equipment reliability and operational safety.

They also deliver increased productivity via enhanced components’ performance. Bolts coated with Teflon fluoropolymer have high heat resistance, enhanced chemical resistance, excellent release, a low coefficient of friction, and consistent tensioning – all in addition to being easy to install and remove.

The coatings offer high cost efficiency due to higher life expectancy and lower maintenance costs. Extra value is also found in the fact they can be reflowed after final cure and used on a variety of substrates, such as aluminium, carbon steel and stainless steel.

Finally, the coatings also deliver increased environmental friendliness. Water-based systems, specifically developed for offshore applications, offer a one-coat solution that provides excellent corrosion resistance that is easy to clean up, heavy metal-free, low on VOC emissions, and requires no special solvents beyond water for clean-up or thinning.

Gary Spangler is with the Chemours Company

 

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