The Impact of Corrosion in Oil and Gas Facilities

The Impact of Corrosion in Oil and Gas Facilities
  • Opening Intro -

    Much of our economy hinges on the oil and gas industry.

    Oil itself is a major player, but indirectly it helps power a myriad of other sectors, from transportation to manufacturing.


Because of this, when there are dangers to this industry, the world tends to take notice. While these dangers are often external, it’s important to note internal factors that may impact these businesses.

That’s why it’s essential to note the impact of corrosion in oil and gas facilities.

What Is Corrosion?

Corrosion is a natural process where metals react to elements in the environment, such as oxygen, dirt, bacteria, and moisture. We see examples of corrosion around us in our everyday lives.

The rusted iron hull of a ship and even the blue color of the bronze Statue of Liberty are common examples.

People use metal throughout oil and gas facilities, both in piping and extraction machinery.

Because corrosion causes the breakdown of most varieties of metals, the impact of corrosion in gas and oil plants is widespread in the industry.

How Corrosion Impacts in Oil and Gas Plants

  • Safety and Structural Concerns

    Corrosion causes metals to break down, including the metals used for the pipes that transport oil. This can compromise their structural integrity leading to collapses and cracks.

    Given how flammable gas is, this can pose a serious safety threat to anyone working in and around metal pipes.

  • Environmental Dangers

    But oils are not only dangerous when ignited. Cracked pipes can lead to oil spills that directly impact the environment.

    This was the case during the 2015 oil spill in Santa Barbara, California, when 383,000 liters of crude oil spilled into the ocean, killing thousands of birds, fish, and other marine life like dolphins and sea lions.

    In this case, corrosion had worn walls to only a sixteenth of an inch thick.

  • Economic Impacts

    Between the cost of preventing and repairing the damages caused by corrosion, corrosion can take a significant toll on gas and oil plants. According to one study, corrosion may amount to as much as 3-4 percent of industrialized nations’ GPD.

    This statistic refers mostly to the direct costs. Indirect costs, including downtime, efficiency losses, and product contaminations, cannot be quantified.

    However, the study states that these costs may be even higher than the direct costs.

Mitigating the Effects of Corrosion

Corrosion is a natural phenomenon, and it is inevitable. While we can’t prevent corrosion altogether, we can find ways to mitigate its effects.

A few strategies your plant may employ include:

  • Inspecting materials regularly for corrosion.
  • Familiarizing yourself with different types of corrosion, such as crevice, galvanic, pitting and others.
  • Applying protective coating and inhibitors to metal structures.
  • Ensuring pipelines meet design requirements.
  • Being aware of environmental conditions that may impact moisture level.

Because you can’t avoid corrosion, one of the most important ways to fight against it is to be aware of it. Being able to identify pitting corrosion and the other types will help you take action before you face a cracked pipe.

Image Credit: by Adobe Stock royalty-free image#184710771

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