Regular inspection is imperative for maintaining asset integrity. From tanks to vessels to submerged structures like bridges and dams, consistent inspection is crucial to ensure safety and efficiency.
OPEX budgets for fabric and operational maintenance have been slashed in 2020 and 2021, with a similar story emerging for 2023.
However, the ravages of corrosion continue to bite equipment and structures, especially those offshore and in marine environments.
The OGTC Asset Integrity Solution Centre recognised that one of the greatest challenges facing the offshore industry on the UKCS is the management of mature assets and that there is also an opportunity to reduce asset integrity costs by 30-50% through the adoption of innovative technologies, extend asset operating lives and maximise economic recovery.
Focusing on two specific issues: process vessel inspection (VI) and corrosion under insulation (CUI). It is estimated that the total cost to the UKCS from VI and CUI is in excess of £300 million per annum, of which over £100 million relates to operating expenditure incurred due to the limitations of the current VI and CUI inspection methods. It’s envisaged that technology can help the industry achieve efficiencies in maintenance and integrity, improving production uptime by over 10%.
This does not include the business risks and HSE risks for pipework failures caused by CUI.
Recent testing by NACE suggests that Most hot insulation materials have a lot of open space or porosity in them. When water wicks into and fills the insulation material sitting against the steel surface of equipment operating at a temperature that is not hot enough to quickly drive away wetness, any unprotected carbon steel will experience CUI because of these repeated long intervals of wetness. In practical terms the pipework below the insulation is now in a high temperature, ultra-high humidity, and a low pH environment – exactly the same conditions artificially created by coating manufacturers for accelerated humidity chamber testing to determine coating life.
There are many solutions being tabled by both academics and coating manufacturers as to the most efficient method to mitigate CUI, or at least slow it down. These solutions are debated by O&G engineers, corrosion engineers and asset integrity professionals responsible for upstream and downstream asset life. Our own UK HSE recognise CUI as a Top 3 hazard and UK Oil &Gas along with OGTC are encouraging the corrosion service sector and coating manufacturers to develop solutions.
We know that the current restrictions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic are having a profound effect on maintenance and asset integrity, both onshore and offshore.
The industry needs to find corrosion mitigation solutions that are:
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