If you missed the 2017 API Inspection Summit that happened last month, you missed some great speakers and exhibits on “Asset Integrity Through Corrosion Management, Inspection, And Engineering Technology.” There was a record attendance this year as has been year over year since the first one in 2007. There were over 1,400 registrations this year and more expected are in 2019.
The American Petroleum Institute (API) is a national trade association that represents all aspects of the oil and natural gas industry. Because one of their missions is to promote safety across the industry, their four-day summit this year included presentations on issues involving the condition and corrosion of production systems and pipelines in refining facilities, chemical manufacturing and storage facilities. The event offered many great technical sessions including panel discussions from key Fixed Equipment Mechanical Integrity (FEMI) experts.
Fatal accidents and injuries, as well as leaks, premature pipe replacements, loss of property, and unplanned outages at refineries, chemical plants and gas processing facilities often can be traced back to equipment failures due to integrity issues like faulty or counterfeit metal building components, sulfidic corrosion of piping and equipment, or because piping is made from material that does not meet specifications.
Measuring Silicon in Carbon Steel
We partnered with Chevron for one presentation to discuss “Measuring Silicon in Carbon Steel at Ambient Temperature Using X-ray Fluorescence to Address Sulfidation Corrosion.” We tried to guide the audience through a practical overview of effectively instituting a retrospective PMI program using XRF technology for low silicon surveys.
When exposed to hydrocarbon containing sulfur compounds at elevated temperatures, carbon steels with low silicon content (<0.10%) can corrode at an accelerated rate. Sulfidation thins the pressure boundary wall and can result in a leak releasing highly hazardous chemicals to the atmosphere. API RP 939C Guidelines for Avoiding Sulfidation (Sulfidic) Corrosion Failures in Oil Refineries recognizes implementing Retrospective PMI into a Material Verification Program (per API RP 578) as an inspection method to detect and track sulfidation corrosion. We demonstrated how an XRF analyzer can help ensure the material chemistry specifications of the pipeline materials are met and integrity is kept.
X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) technology is a nondestructive elemental analysis technique used to determine the elemental composition of materials by measuring the fluorescent (or secondary) x-ray emitted from a sample when it is excited by a primary x-ray source. (You can learn more about X-ray fluorescence technology here.)
Aging infrastructure more often provides the challenge of “in-situ” or retro-PMI testing to confirm existing assets are fit for service. Typically this requires performing measurements at elevated temperatures under normal process operating conditions ranging from 200° F up to 900° F.
Feedback from the low silicon presentation was encouraging as our booth was met by engineers, inspectors and owner/operators to continue the discussion and understand more about capabilities of the latest portable XRF technology for this application. Additionally there was interest in residual element analysis for HF Alkylation processing units in petroleum refining units.
Refineries and petrochemical plants may be considered among the most prized industrial assets in the world, however, the hydrocarbon processing business is also a high-hazard industry in that there are potential exposures to risk in all operations due to the nature of the materials being extracted, transported and processed.
We’re seeing a noticeable trend in NDT companies offering rope access solutions for complex NDT projects; including retro-PMI. So it was an important opportunity for us to highlight not only the performance of the latest XRF technology but the form factor that has obvious benefits regarding accessibility, portability and weight savings –all very import to rope access teams. (See our previous post showing PMI rope teams in action.)
Our goal is to help ensure that your pipelines are at minimum risk for failure. Feel free to comment below and ask us how to help prevent mechanical failures of petrochemical piping and equipment due to sulfidation corrosion or HF alkylation, analysis with portable X-ray fluorescence (XRF).
Download the Presentation Material
Just because you couldn’t be at the show doesn’t mean you can’t learn more about the issue of sulfidation and corrosion. Feel free to read these application notes:
- Analysis of silicon in steel using a portable XRF analyzer to prevent sulfidic corrosion failures
- Analysis of residual elements in steel piping with a portable XRF analyzer