The safest and most efficient means of transporting
crude oil or natural gas from wells is
through subsea or buried pipelines. However,
once exposed to subsea or soil environments,
unprotected steel is rapidly corroded. To minimize this
risk, pipelines are routinely protected by anti-corrosion
coatings in conjunction with cathodic protection.
The coating provides the primary defense barrier, isolating
the steel pipeline from its corrosive environment, while cathodic
protection provides a backup if the coating is
breached. While many pipeline coating systems have long,
proven track records and have served the industry well, challenges
still face the industry due to cold climates and rugged
terrains, high operating temperatures, and deep water wells.

By Martyn Wilmott, John Highams, Richard Ross, and Adam Kopystinski
Bredero Price Coaters Limited, Leith, UK

The safest and most efficient means of transporting
crude oil or natural gas from wells is
through subsea or buried pipelines. However,
once exposed to subsea or soil environments,
unprotected steel is rapidly corroded. To minimize this
risk, pipelines are routinely protected by anti-corrosion
coatings in conjunction with cathodic protection.
The coating provides the primary defense barrier, isolating
the steel pipeline from its corrosive environment, while cathodic
protection provides a backup if the coating is
breached. While many pipeline coating systems have long,
proven track records and have served the industry well, challenges
still face the industry due to cold climates and rugged
terrains, high operating temperatures, and deep water wells.
In addition to corrosion protection, many pipelines require
thermal insulation to prevent the crude oil or natural
gas from producing waxes or hydrates. If the pipeline
temperature drops too low, heavy components in crude
oil can solidify into waxy material that can clog the line,
and natural gas can form hydrates that can also cause
pipeline blockage.

Therefore, there is a continuous need for new product
development as oil and gas exploration extends to depths
in the range of 2,000 m (6,600 ft) and operating temperatures
approaching 160 C (320 F). Deep water wells put
stringent requirements on insulation products to withstand
high compressive loads and to tolerate water exposure in a
particularly aggressive environment.

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