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We have all heard reports of a pipeline cracking leading to an oil spill. The environmental effects of such a disaster are hard to recover and disrupt marine life for several years. We can avoid such mishaps through various steps, the crucial action being proper quality control.
The oil and Gas Industry have a strict Quality Assurance Plan to ensure that each component meets tied and tested standards.
For example, AMPP (formerly NACE-National Association of Corrosion Engineers) has a set of test methods that steel pipelines should conform to before commissioning. These norms specify the fluids the pipelines transport, like kerosene, diesel, petroleum, or lubricants. The main objective of testing is to determine if a material meets its specification requirements. These include mechanical properties (e.g., strength), thermal properties (e.g., thermal conductivity), and chemical compatibility. We may use one or more standard test methods specified by regulatory bodies or voluntary agencies such as ASTM International or ISO/IEC 17025 accredited laboratories.
Different materials go into the Oil and Gas Industry, from the machinery used (drill jigs, etc.) to the pipeline used for transportation. The most common material used is steel which includes corrosion and heat-resistant steel. It is important to test the materials in aerospace industry.
Metal testing: The testing has different disciplines:
- Chemical Testing:This is to ensure that the metals conform to the grade of material required in the specification. The most common instrument used for testing is Optical Emission Spectroscopy (OES)
- Mechanical Testing: Tensile testing on components helps understand the impacts when they undergo load. The engineering design uses the values from the testing to confirm if there will not be any yielding happening to the metal.
- Metallurgical Testing: The presence of inclusions will decide the proneness to crack development. Metallurgical testing helps to check if the proper grain size/% austenite is maintained and if the heat treatment is appropriate.
Metals that carry oil/gas are susceptible to corrosion. One such mechanism is Sulphide Stress Corrosion cracking.
The presence of Sulphur in the petroleum makes the pipeline prone to cracking. We can test this in advance to look into the suitability of using the material in the design.
The pipelines and other machine components are not just for decorative purposes but also to avoid corrosion of the substrate (steel usually). Corrosion eventually wrecks the material.
There are various paints to suit different environmental conditions and exposure to chemicals. We apply these paints to different thicknesses that can be tested on-site.