Oil & Gas

Interview with Dr. Robert H. Heidersbach, Jr.

Written by: Fleming. Team

North America Oil & Gas

Effective Corrosion Control in the Oil, Gas & Petrochemical Industry - USA

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1) Which anti-corrosion technologies will be most useful in the future?

They will remain protective coatings, cathodic protection, and material selection, especially alloy selection. All three have been used for decades, but the use of corrosion resistant alloys will increase, as the oil and gas industry goes to greater depths, where higher temperatures and more aggressive environments can be found. Protective coatings are used on top side equipment, and it's a mature technology. These coatings aren't likely to change in major ways.

2) How is the oil price crisis impacting corrosion control in the O&G industry?

The tendency for management is to cut back on expenditures, so corrosion control becomes more important and is less likely to be adequately funded. However, this is not a proper way to save budget, because every time that savings on major maintenance are made, you're likely to encounter corrosion problems in the future. Corrosion control budgets have to be maintained and budget cuts are to be made somewhere else, or you'll end up spending more money than what you saved.

3) What's the biggest mistake Corrosion specialists usually make?

Corrosion specialists frequently do not understand the difference between inspection and corrosion monitoring. Corrosion monitoring is not a substitute for inspection. This will be one of the case-studies addressed in the training: one of the largest oil corporations went into serious trouble because of this misunderstanding. Corrosion monitoring determines how aggressive the corrosive environment may be. Unfortunately, corrosion monitoring cannot determine where the most corrosion-susceptible location in a complicated system will be. Because of this, the greatest corrosion, which is usually localized, can not be identified by corrosion monitoring.

4) Tell me something about the most interesting or challenging project you've ever worked on.

One of the critical problems in any system, is fasteners. High strength bolts are certainly the key to successful operations. In recent years, I worked on whether or not high-strength fasteners can be galvanized for corrosion control. The question is whether or not the application of galvanizing can cause hydrogenic embrittlement to the high-strength fasteners sometimes used in construction and in Oil & Gas production. We were able to test high-strength bolts and find that the galvanizing process did not cause hydrogen embrittlement in this application. The British are working on a similar problem in a tall building in London at the present time, and the international community is still trying to determine the strength limits within which galvanizing can be used.