It’s well-known that oil and gas exploration and extraction companies work in the world’s harshest environments. Digging into the Earth’s surface and extracting resources in the ocean, miles away from shores, isn’t easy.
The environmental conditions are always challenging for workers and equipment. They make drilling sites dangerous, affecting workers’ safety. In addition, while oilfield service equipment is built to last, these conditions repeatedly test its durability.
Corrosion and erosion are always lingering factors for oil and gas companies in the field. Corrosion is a destructive attack on metals by chemical or electrochemical reactions with the environment. It’s also called anti-metallurgy because it deteriorates the metal’s state.
Upstream, downstream, and midstream operators constantly search for new ways to protect their assets while ensuring worker safety on drilling sites. Operators would previously use in-line sensors to monitor corrosivity. Today, technology has significantly advanced, and non-intrusive ultrasonic sensors exist that can directly monitor pipe wall thickness.
Many argue that technological advancements have changed the oil and gas industry. Operators increasingly rely on sensors, data, and monitoring, while avoiding inspection. While this might seem like progress, most experts agree the most effective way to monitor and prevent corrosion is by combining intrusive probes and non-intrusive sensors with new procurement arrangements.
Whether it’s corrosion or erosion, operators want to ensure they minimize metal loss. Corrosion and erosion can cause the pipe thickness to dwindle, resulting in significant hazards. It can lead to containment losses, downtime, and, most importantly, injuries and fatalities.
As a result, oil and gas field operators prefer monitoring and measuring metal loss. Doing so enables them to adopt a proactive maintenance and repair approach, minimizing risks. Unfortunately, this wasn’t possible before. Operators would previously insert coupons into the flow and use them for proxy readings. However, there were too many variables for metal loss readings to be accurate. However, the introduction of ultrasonic sensors has proven a revelation for the industry.
Ultrasonic sensors are non-intrusive; they can be attached to the outside of pipe walls, requiring no penetration. As a result, operators also don’t have to worry about downtime. These sensors use sound waves to measure a pipe wall’s thickness. There are no estimates or proxy readings. Instead, operators receive concrete data. Hence, ultrasonic sensors have become particularly common in the oil and gas industry. They can be installed in high-risk environments and provide data wirelessly to corrosion engineers.
While ultrasonic sensors have become prominent in the oil and gas industry, they’re not the end-all-be-all. Some operators think that non-intrusive probes alone are sufficient for monitoring metal loss, viewing them as replacements rather than complements for existing intrusive technology, but that’s not the case.
Operators often inject corrosion inhibitor chemicals into the flow to reduce corrosion rates and protect pipe wall thickness. It’s a delicate operation because the chemical levels must be balanced correctly. Injecting little chemicals fails to prevent corrosion. Meanwhile, injecting too much will cause the chemical inhibitors to be wasted, becoming counterproductive because corrosion will increase.
Using only an ultrasonic sensor requires operators to make inferences about the corrosivity. It can be challenging. Therefore, in-line probes are necessary because they help monitor the liquid flowing through the pipe’s corrosivity. Operators can adjust inhibitor levels accordingly.
Intrusive monitoring systems are often considered health and safety risks because they involve penetrating the pipe wall. However, improved corrosion management can prevent such issues.
New technology and approaches have impacted corrosion monitoring and management. The integration of intrusive and non-intrusive monitoring systems has provided significant value to operators because they have access to more information.
Some oilfield equipment service providers have also started tweaking business models, offering corrosion and erosion monitoring services as part of monthly packages.
However, the future will likely rely on integrating intrusive and non-intrusive monitoring systems for the best results. Operators must ensure they monitor cause and effect because they’re important. Doing so can help reduce risks and save money.
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CNPS is a complete energy solutions provider. It launched in 2008, offering OCTG pipes and bar products and solutions. Since then, the company has become a leading energy solutions provider. Our offerings include renewable and sustainable energy solutions, oilfield service equipment, electronic product solutions, mud logging equipment, etc.