Corrosion Inspection Techniques: Upstream, Midstream, and Downstream
Nondestructive testing (NDT) is crucial for comprehensive corrosion mapping, especially in the oil and gas industry, which deals with materials that are corrosive by nature and carry billions of gallons of fluid flowing through pipelines.
Not only that, but most areas that are being tested are vital and can’t easily be shut down. That’s why NDT gives engineers an edge: they can accurately pinpoint corrosion in real-time without disrupting the system. Phased Array Ultrasound Testing (PAUT), in particular, is designed for high-corrosion industries that cover endless miles of pipelines and machinery.
Corrosion might be inevitable, but it doesn’t have to be destructive. NDT can help prevent any costly downtime.
The Importance of Accurate Corrosion Inspection Techniques
When trying to locate areas of corrosion for maintenance, a high degree of clarity is important. This necessitates an understanding of the scale and degree of corrosion on any given point in the system. This means:
- Being able to identify and assess corrosion damage before it becomes widespread and disruptive.
- Saving money by focusing on preventative maintenance rather than post-damage repair.
- Focusing efforts and manpower on areas most in need.
In short, having a complete picture allows engineers to schedule maintenance when it is needed and only when it is needed. This allows a team to use resources in a cost-efficient way.
The Right Equipment for Corrosion Testing
The right instruments for corrosion testing allow detection of corrosion for a variety of objects, both flat and curved. A hand-held paintbrush scanner that provides a phased array view of the interior of any surface is ideal for the job.
The scanner, when used with a dual-axis probe and combined with PAUT instruments and ultrasonic software, creates a 3D map of the object being scanned in real-time, providing a complete picture of any corrosion on the screen.
Knowing the level of corrosion allows analysts to see and assess the cause. Having more confidence about whether this corrosion is due to time and nature or if there is a systemic problem will help teams make better decisions.
As this video shows, ease of use and high probability of detection is important for selecting the right equipment when inspecting widespread operations.
The Benefits of Accurate Corrosion Testing
A system based around the paintbrush scanner has many benefits. It’s an agile tool that allows for operation in any area such as underground pipes, hard-to-reach areas, and uneven surfaces. Ultrasound testing tools can map out domes and angles as well as flat surfaces.
While the 3D map is being generated, a 2D map is visible on the screen. The paintbrush scanner and probe essentially help to make a “painting” of the surface so any missed areas can be easily seen and addressed. This ensures that the job has been completely and thoroughly inspected.
Not only that, but it is fast. It uploads immediately, with onboard statistics that show the extent of damage, its depth, and what percentage of the materials need work. These stats can be directly exported to external software, giving teams quick access to information in the pre-existing system.
But the most important factor might be confidence. Not only do decisions have to be made, but they have to be sold to other people, or at least explained to the decision-makers. With 3D mapping, an easy-to-understand visual display shows corrosion as if in a photograph. It’s solid evidence that helps others understand the extent and/or urgency.
The world of oil and gas extraction, shipment, and refinement is one of the most high-pressure in the world. Boiling temperatures and the constant churn of fluids, sand, chemicals, and time create highly-corrosive conditions. With the world depending on its supply, it’s imperative that engineers are able to quickly spot corrosion and fix it. Phased array testing gives them that confidence.