Font Size

- Aa +

Fri 20 Nov 2009 04:00 AM

Font Size

- Aa +

Get your coat

The Middle East's atmospheric conditions require robust petrochemical coating solutions.

Get your coat
Arie Verboon, country manager, BASF Coatings, United Arab Emirates.
Get your coat
Dr Kirsten Oliver, manager integrity assurance, Intertek.

The Middle East's atmospheric conditions require robust petrochemical coating solutions.

Petrochemical plants are subject to various threats which may cause an unexpected shutdown of facilities. Corrosion is a primary concern, and the risk is magnified when a lack of monitoring and inadequate protective measures have been taken to deter it.

Corrosion takes place when essential properties within a given material begin to deteriorate, after exposure to destructive elements. "The main causes of corrosion are hydrogen sulfide, chloride carbon dioxide and oxygen. When they are under pressure and temperature, they form corrosive species that attack the substrate, whether metal or concrete, which causes degradation," says Dr Kirsten Oliver, upstream manager, production and integrity assurance at Intertek.

"In the case of metal substrates, it means a loss of electrons of metal reacting with water and oxygen. This is, of course, more commonly known as rusting," explains Omar Ayoub, sales leader, Dow Coating Materials. Environmental conditions in this region represent a major challenge for firms operating here, as high temperatures can accelerate the corrosion process. "In the Middle East, the environment is the main culprit," explains Ayoub.

To maintain the integrity of their assets and to avoid any unexpected shutdowns, petrochemical companies closely monitor corrosion. The process of corrosion monitoring used to involve the recording of historical events relating to the degradation of materials.

"This provided plant engineers and maintenance personnel with information only after damage has occurred and often integrated short term damage over the total exposure time," says Dr Oliver.

However, now companies are looking for more proactive maintenance to avoid shutdowns. Prediction and measurement of degradation by using different techniques has been thrust to the fore. "Electrical resistance (ER), linear polarisation resistance (LPR) and electrochemical noise (ECN) all can produce online data when selected, designed and located correctly, whether in the process system or embedded in the concrete structure," reveals Dr Oliver.Controlling the level of corrosion requires the utilisation of anti-corrosive coating among other methods, which include cathodic protection, material selection, and corrosion inhibitors. "To control the level of degradation there are a number of options that we can look at, one of them is simply by applying a corrosion resistance coating on the internal surface of the pipe to avoid the corrosive medium getting in contact with pipe for example.," says Dr Oliver.

The type of coating used should be resistant in even the most difficult conditions. "Coating materials capable of providing high performance under extreme conditions and are very important to cope with the tough conditions," says Micheal Magerstadt, general manager products and systems at German Roplast.  "Anti-corrosive coatings should be extremely resistant to different factors and circumstances, from heat to chemicals," he adds.

Many raw materials are used as anti-corrosive coating including different resins such as latex emulsions (acrylics, vinyl acrylics, styrene acrylics), epoxies and other polymer technologies. "For anti-corrosive coatings, we offer coating formulators a strong portfolio of products and technologies for epoxy and polyurethanes based coatings," says Ayoub.

"We are developing new materials to address long term corrosion resistance, low application temperature resins to save energy, and fast curing systems to increase productivity among other technology platforms," he adds.

Anti-corrosive coating should meet certain international standards. "We follow both international standards like the American National Standards Institute and Deutsche Industrie Norm in Germany, National Association of Corrosion Engineers as well as challenging tests of our own to assure that our products are effective and safe," says Arie Verboon, country manager UAE and business development manager, Middle East for BASF Coatings.

Even after meeting international standards, there is still the considerable challenge of making sure performance in the field is optimal. "One of the main challenges in the Middle East is meeting the diverse application needs of the market such as sand and heat, wind and salt. The environmental conditions can be quite extreme which demands a more complex anti-corrosive." reveals Ayoub.

Anti-corrosive coatings provide protection to key infrastructure and facilities, and long term perfromance of the product is crucial.

The harsh environment in this region has led clients to look for the best anti-corrosion solutions that keep their assets on-line for the longest possible time.

"The demand for anti-corrosive coatings in industrial applications is steadily growing," reveals Ayoub. "There has been great expansion in both dry-docks and offshore oil, gas and petrochemical bases. With increased investment expected in some industrial projects in the region in the next decade or so, this is becoming a key growth area in the Middle East," he explains.

As the old saying goes, prevention is better than a cure. The basic purpose of corrosion control is to maintain the reliability and integrity of a structure. If the metal in a structure is completely free of corrosion, the risk of harmful leakage, or even an explosion, is significantly reduced.