Influence of hydrodynamics on carbon steel erosion-corrosion and inhibitor efficiency in simulated oilfield brines.
PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.
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Corrosion within the oil and gas sector is an ongoing concern for operators. The challenging nature of extraction and processing fluids is an unavoidable cause of severe metallic corrosion. With modern emphasis on health, safety and the environment, the case for managing corrosion has become an imperative agenda. Whilst new and more effective methods of mitigation are key, an interim solution is improving the value of current methods. A literature survey carried out within this project has revealed CO2 corrosion as contributing to most corrosion related failures within the industry. The corrosion behaviour in CO2 containing environments is complex partly due to the wide range of prevailing conditions such as temperature, CO2 concentration and flow conditions.
For oil and gas transportation pipelines, internal corrosion mitigation can be achieved by the use of chemical inhibitors. Inhibitors have been established to be effective but are by no means a complete solution. Issues such as their effectiveness in high velocity and high shear flow are a main consideration for their function. The hydrodynamic nature of the flowing fluids can affect inhibitor efficiency by either slowing the rate of formation of the inhibitive layer or causing degradation of well-formed inhibitive layers. A combined effect may also be active.
The corrosion behaviour of carbon steel in simulated oilfield conditions is investigated in this project with emphasis on conditions of varying velocity, impinging flow and consequently shear stress. Since inhibition is the main mitigation technique for fluid related corrosion, the efficiency of a commercially used inhibitor is, in this case assessed in the abovementioned conditions. To simulate both impingement and flow, a jet impingement apparatus is used in conjunction with a segmented-electrode specimen set up to separately study the erosion-corrosion behaviour of different hydrodynamic zones under the jet. Corrosion rates are measured by gravimetric analysis and results are also evaluated with electrochemistry. Additionally, galvanic interactions between the different hydrodynamic zones have been investigated. Visual and light-optical microscopic examinations are also used to assess variable effects within the zones.
Under such conditions, the corrosion rates have been found to be significantly higher in impingement zones. Aerated conditions have shown a significant variation in corrosion behaviour between impingement and non-impingement zones. The results in CO2 saturated brines are consistent but with evidence of different relations between hydrodynamics and the corrosion rate. The inhibitor has been shown to be effective in CO2 saturated brines and significantly influenced by both inhibitor concentration and hydrodynamic conditions. Inhibitor efficiency has also shown a complex dependence on concentration and establishes a need to evaluate optimum inhibitor concentrations before field application. Evaluation of the mass loss results against electrochemistry has shown a large discrepancy between the two methods. This rather surprising result suggests solid-free flow is not entirely free of erosion and synergistic effects.
This comprehensive study has not only improved current knowledge on the relation between hydrodynamics and inhibitor efficiency but also indicates a critical need to evaluate suitability of current monitoring methods. Electrochemical methods are increasingly used as a method of choice and while they contribute significant monitoring data, they are observed to be unable, alone, to monitor erosion and synergy. An industry review on their suitability to monitor solid-free flow corrosion is recommended.
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