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Managing corrosion – the silent yet visible threat in the oil and gas industry

Nowadays it is arguably possible to find a framework for almost everything. However, managing corrosion in a proactive and predictive way is actually vital if you want to prevent unexpected equipment breakdown. No matter whether it's oil, gas, drilling wells, operating pipelines or facilities, corrosion can occur in all sorts of environments.

But what is “corrosion” exactly?

We asked our colleague, Bernhard Egger, who is Lead Maintenance Engineer at OMV Exploration & Production GmbH. He happily shed some light on a topic that seemingly few people encounter – or do we? Corrosion is a kind of material degradation that can have a negative impact on the proper functioning of any type of equipment. In everyday life it is commonly known as “rust”. Most people have already seen it in some form or other on cars or public infrastructure like bridges and buildings. In our industry it is mainly metallic equipment that is negatively impacted due to corrosion. This phenomenon occurs wherever a metallic surface comes into contact with corrosive substances such as water containing oxygen, chloride or CO2. “Corrosion needs to be managed in a proactive and predictive way in order to prevent unexpected equipment breakdown or failures that might expose the business to unnecessary risk and lead to unplanned corrective repair work and production deferments”, says Bernhard.

Without teamwork and professionalism as two of our core corporate principles, the whole project would not have been possible. 
Bernhard Egger, Lead Maintenance Engineer, OMV Exploration & Production GmbH

Managing corrosion is critical

Managing corrosion is thereby critical for health, safety and the environment in oil and gas production. Insufficient corrosion management can ultimately create risk exposure to major incidents, with potentially severe consequences for health, safety, environment and reputation. In fact, it is one of the biggest threats to be managed in our industry. “This is why a team of more than 30 experts was formed to define a so-called Corrosion Management Framework (CMF), which is consistent across the entire OMV Group and OMV Petrom Upstream”, explains Bernhard. The framework itself guarantees a proactive and consistent approach to corrosion management. Furthermore, it ensures proper design, proper material selection and a proper operating philosophy. “CMF was developed by bundling the in-house expertise of all of the stakeholders involved. It covers the full lifecycle of equipment from the well to the sales point, so basically across the entire value chain.”

Importantly, the Corrosion Management Framework is the same for all types of facilities and operations – be it gas or oil. It facilitates the identification of corrosion threats and gives guidance on how to properly manage and monitor corrosion. Corrosion mechanisms themselves differ significantly among facility types depending on the fluid and operating parameters. But in essence “the ultimate goal is to minimize its threat; the exposure is the same for gas and for oil facilities”, Bernhard explains.

Bringing the framework to life 

In July 2018 the paperwork for the Corrosion Management Framework was finalized. Yet Bernhard remains humble, “the completion of the paper itself does not change anything. We now have to establish the proper mindset and bring it to life”. And luckily the team of 30 leading OMV experts is in place to smooth the transition and bring the principles to life. Bernhard is proud to have led this initiative and brought experts from various disciplines and countries together to deliver a fit-for-purpose basis that will help establish safe and reliable hydrocarbon production. “Without teamwork and professionalism as two of our core corporate principles, the whole project would not have been possible”, beams Bernhard.

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