NACE International

August 08, 2006 16:27 ET

Pipeline Shutdown Points to Need for Increased Awareness of Corrosion Control

HOUSTON, TX--(CCNMatthews - August 08, 2006) - Corrosion control works. NACE International, a professional association for Leaders in Corrosion Control Technology, see the recent detection of a dozen possible instances of corrosion and the eventual shutdown of a BP pipeline as evidence of the benefits and importance of corrosion control.

"The good news is the system worked -- Government working with Industry allowed BP to find anomalies before a major incident occurred," said NACE President David Webster. "The advantage of an effective corrosion control program is that it protects people, assets, and the environment from the detrimental effects of corrosion."

BP began a phased shut down of the Prudhoe Bay oilfield after detecting internal pipeline corrosion. The government and BP determined there was a problem after a spill in March and stepped up its corrosion control inspection process. In the course of this monitoring, they found indicators of corrosion.

Corrosion Cost to the U.S.

Corrosion is a naturally occurring phenomenon, and it affects a great deal more than the oil industry, reports a NACE study, "Corrosion Costs and Preventive Strategies in the United States," which was released in 2002.

According to the study, corrosion costs the U.S. $276 billion a year -- approximately 3.1% of the nation's Gross Domestic Product (GDP). That amounts to $1,000 for every man, woman, and child in the country.

This staggering number keeps thousands of NACE certified corrosion professionals busy on a daily basis, working to implement current corrosion-control practices and technologies. The results of these efforts save the U.S. economy billions of dollars each year. However, many industries are unaware of the tremendous economic benefits that the application of corrosion prevention technologies can provide.

"Somewhere between 20 and 30% of this $276 billion could be saved if industry fully availed itself of current corrosion control technologies and resources," said Tony Keane, Executive Director for NACE International. "The challenge is in making industry, the public, and the government aware of what is available to the extent that it will invest in the needed levels of corrosion control."

The NACE study also revealed that the Production and Manufacturing sector -- which includes oil and gas exploration -- comprises 14.6% of all corrosion in industry. The number is dwarfed, however, by the cost of corrosion in utilities industries, which is a whopping 34.7% of that total.

"When there's a leak in a water pipe, it's not news, because it does not pollute the surrounding environment," said Keane. "Water is one of our most precious natural resources and it seeps out of corroded pipes around the nation every single day. If the nation's citizens were paying for tap water what they pay for fuel, the attention on water would be much different."

From a public perspective, BP's shutdown is a far cry from a major catastrophe, and represents nothing more than inconvenience. "It's a safety precaution similar to those taken when a mechanical problem is detected on a plane prior to departure," said Keane. "The flight would be halted until the problem was resolved. It's a minor inconvenience suffered in the best interests of public safety and the environment."

NACE International is a professional association dedicated to promoting public safety; protecting the environment; and reducing the economic impact of corrosion. Established in 1943, NACE International has more than 16,000 members worldwide and offers technical training and certification programs, sponsors conferences, and produces industry standards, reports, publications, and software.

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