ConocoPhillips

Pipelines

Ensuring Pipeline Safety

Mohsen Achour, our corrosion management supervisor, and his team work to find and fight corrosion. They provide our business units with a wide range of corrosion management support and services, including assisting in product selection and addressing issues that occur in the field. “We start by assessing how corrosive a given environment might be. Then we look for methods of mitigating the corrosion. And finally, to see if we are using the right approach, we monitor and inspect the pipe.”

The team’s rotating cylinder autoclave (RCA) tests the chemical performance of corrosion inhibitors by simulating the field’s production system. “We can test the performance of mitigation methods, material or chemical, as well as evaluate how well a method we’re going to suggest for the field performs.” Finally, the business unit conducts a thorough analysis, including field testing, and makes the final decision on which corrosion mitigation method to use.

Chris Dash, our inspection technology and failure analysis supervisor, and his team are developing cutting-edge tools to identify pipeline issues before they become dangerous situations. “Our inspection lab is likely unique within the oil industry. We’re trying to emulate what is happening in the field to determine the long-term effects of mitigation methods.”

Using long-range ultrasonic testing (UT) to inspect for damage is usually the first step in the process. “A collar placed around the pipe produces ultrasound similar to that used in medical technology, so we can actually ‘image’ it.” Another monitoring technique involves inserting three-inch strips of metal into the pipe. “We can produce localized corrosion and evaluate it using white light profilometry.” Using a nano UT monitoring system, Dash and his group can measure changes to the pipe wall much smaller than the width of a human hair in almost real-time. “We can detect changes within a week that might not show up otherwise for three to six months. Our goal is to fully understand the limitations of long-range UT and address them.”

These technologies can help to identify corrosion early and allow our operators to address it before a pipeline leak can occur. Our Australia business unit is currently using nano UT to monitor corrosion in a vessel that all of the produced LNG has to pass through. “We’re monitoring how non-intrusive techniques, such as changing the inhibitors, impact the corrosion rate on the vessel wall – without having to shut down the vessel to conduct monitoring.