Category Archives: Anodes

MATCOR’s SPL Linear Anode Proves Ideal for Retrofit Project

MATCOR's SPL Linear Anode
MATCOR SPL–Anode is placed close to the piping to be protected, and operates at low current levels, reducing potential loss to nearby grounding systems

Arkema is a world class producer of industrial chemicals, but its King of Prussia, PA Research and Development facility looks more like a college campus building than your typical industrial facility.  And yet, like any industrial facility, the site has buried utility piping that is subject to external corrosion.  

When the facility experienced steam piping failures, they called in MATCOR to evaluate their corrosion risk and make suitable recommendations to prevent future leaks.

After a preliminary engineering investigation, MATCOR recommended installing our SPL-FBR linear anode.  The linear anode was ideally suited for this application because of limited site accessibility, the presence of nearby grounding, poor piping isolation, the mix of coated piping with bare steam piping, and the need for uniform current distribution along the high temperature bare steam piping.  The linear anode was installed in stages as Arkema had to excavate the steam piping in multiple locations for inspection and repairs.

MATCOR’s SPL–Anode is an ideal solution for many plant environment retrofit applications.

When placed parallel to plant piping, the SPL Anode can be installed with minimal excavation while assuring even current distribution along the entire piping route.  Unlike many point anode ground bed systems, the linear anode operates at relatively low current densities and is placed in close proximity to the piping to be protected.  This reduces potential losses to nearby grounding systems and eliminates the need for isolation of plant piping. This make the linear anode a great solution for many plant piping applications such as compressor stations, power plants, petrochemical facilities, and even campus facilities such as the Arkema’s King of Prussia R&D facility.

Michigan lawmakers want tougher pipeline rules

Two Michigan lawmakers said they’ve introduced proposals for new measures concerning the integrity of oil and gas pipeline infrastructure.

U.S. Reps. Fred Upton, R-Mich., chairman of the energy and commerce committee, and John Dingell, D-Mich., a former chairman, in an article in the Kalamazoo Gazette said they’ve introduced plans to “make vital, long overdue improvements” to the 2.5 million-mile U.S. pipeline network.

The measure would tighten existing safety measures and increase penalties on pipeline operators in the event of a spill.

“Energy demand continues to increase and as we seek to responsibly meet that growing demand with our increased production, the importance of ensuring the safe transportation of those vital resources becomes even greater,” they wrote.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency last week called on a Canadian pipeline company to take further steps to clean the Kalamazoo River system polluted by a July 2010 oil spill.
SOURCE: http://www.upi.com/Business_News/Energy-Resources/2011/10/12/Mich-leaders-want-tougher-pipeline-rules/UPI-80521318418360/#ixzz1af7LGzW2

California Governor signs pipeline safety laws

Six state bills on gas pipeline safety written in response to the deadly Sept. 9, 2010, explosion in San Bruno were signed into law last Friday.

Gov. Jerry Brown said the legislation would strengthen maintenance and oversight of natural gas transmission pipelines and improve coordination between gas line operators and first responders.

“We learned very important lessons from the tragic explosion in San Bruno,” Brown said. “These bills protect California’s communities by setting new standards for emergency preparedness, placing automatic shutoff valves in vulnerable areas and ensuring that gas companies pressure test transmission lines.”

The San Bruno explosion, which killed eight people, destroyed 38 homes and injured dozens of other people, prompted a rush of new safety legislation. Investigations at the state and federal level uncovered a long list of errors and problems that contributed to the disaster.

Assembly Bill 56 by Assemblyman Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, will require utilities to pressure test all pipelines, install remote-controlled shutoff valves in high population areas, and maintain accurate records. It also requires the California Public Utilities Commission to track money it grants for pipeline repairs to make sure it is being used properly, and prohibits utilities from using ratepayer money to pay penalties for safety violations.

“This is the strongest pipeline safety law in the country,” Hill said. “California is going beyond federal standards and being a leader.”

Senate Bill 44 by state Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett, D-San Leandro, requires stricter emergency response standards for natural gas operators and improves communication and coordination with emergency responders.

“After multiple investigations, we’ve learned what precipitated the San Bruno explosion and what needs to be done to prevent an occurrence,” Corbett said. “This bill fixes one of the identified problems: a poor and uncoordinated response to the disaster.”

Senate Bill 216 by state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco (the district includes Woodside and Portola Valley), requires installation of automatic or remote-controlled shutoff valves on all pipelines that cross an active fault line or are located in densely populated areas.

“While much more needs to be done, SB 216 helps hold PG&E accountable and ensures residents are safe,” Yee said.

Yee also introduced a bill previously signed into law providing disaster relief for affected families and the County of San Mateo, City of San Bruno and local schools.

State Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, authored Senate Bill 705, establishing a statewide policy directing the gas industry to make safety its top priority and prohibiting utilities from passing on the costs of safety improvements in the form of unreasonable rate increases, according to Leno.

Senate Bill 879, authored by state Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Pacoima, increases fines for violations of CPUC rules.

SOURCE: http://www.almanacnews.com/news/show_story.php?id=9812

House pipeline bill would delay new safety measures

As the President considers whether to approve the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives would prohibit regulators from implementing safety rules recommended by the National Transportation Safety Board.

The agency charged with regulating the nations 2.5 million miles of pipelines, the Department of Transportation’s Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, became a target for reform as reports detailed the dept’s understaffing and heavy ties to industry.

Lawmakers from communities impacted by the recent disasters promised to strengthen pipeline oversight in legislation to reauthorize federal pipeline safety programs, but action has been slow, and a bill that moved through the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee this month is distressingly weak, pipeline safety advocates say.

The Pipeline Safety, Regulatory Certainty, and Job Creation Act of 2011, sponsored by Bill Shuster (R-PA) requires the Dept. of Transportation to conduct a study on expanding “integrity management rules” for how pipeline operators test and monitor their lines for corrosion and other problems.

Under current rules PHMSA only requires regular testing on lines that run through “high consequence areas” — places that are highly populated or ecologically sensitive.

The Shuster bill prohibits regulators from expanding integrity management requirements beyond high consequence areas.

It also requires regulators to study and report on leak detection systems, but prohibits the dept. from developing new standards for leak detection systems or requiring operators to use them.

As the committee took up and reported the bill on Sept. 8, Carl Weimer, executive director of the Pipeline Safety Trust, criticized the measure as a “partisan industry-driven effort.”

“The weak nature of this proposed legislation seems to ignore the specific strong recommendations just a week ago from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), and the voiced intention of many within the pipeline industry to use the tragedies of the past fifteen months as the impetus to move pipeline safety forward in many areas.”

The NTSB report on the San Bruno pipeline explosion recommended that PHMSA require all operators to equip systems with tools for detecting leaks, require automatic shut-off valves in high consequence areas, require pressure testing for all pre-1970 gas lines and implement enhanced oversight of pipeline integrity management programs.

Shuster’s bill neglects all of these items, Weimer said.

“Just last week NTSB recommended that to avoid more tragedies like San Bruno regulations should be changed to ‘require automatic shutoff valves or remote control valves in high consequence areas and in class 3 and 4 locations be installed,’” he said. “This bill, unlike the bill from House Energy and Power, does not even ask for a study of installing such important valves on existing pipelines through populated communities.”

In July the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power approved pipeline safety legislation that set deadlines for updates leak detection rules and automated valve use and placement, and strengthened guidelines for river crossings, and gas gathering lines.

The two House bills must now be reconciled.

Association of Oil Pipelines President and CEO Andy Black commended the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee for “passing a strong reauthorization bills that wisely avoids imposing new regulations without sufficient evidence current regulatory requirements have failed.”

In an open letter, Sens. Barbara Boxer and Diane Feinstein (D-CA) warned that the House Transportation Committee bill would block important reforms and urged PHMSA to immediately adopt all of NTSB’s latest pipeline safety recommendations.

SOURCE: http://michiganmessenger.com/52610/house-pipeline-bill-would-delay-new-safety-measures

GOP pipeline bill would block pipeline safety reforms

Professionals who work safely, diligently, and follow US government regulations  in the Natural Gas, Oil, Pipeline, Corrosion or Cathodic Protection area of expertise are reminded that Friday, Sept 9, 2011 is the one year anniversary when a catastrophic Natural Gas pipeline disaster occurred in San Bruno, California.  

The accident destroyed 38 homes, damaged 70 killed 8 people and injured 58 others.

But, on Wednesday of this week a pipeline bill offered by House Republicans would block some safety reforms and ignores other recent safety recommendations made by accident investigators in response to the deadly gas explosion.

The bill would prohibit federal regulators from requiring pipeline operators to inspect the structural integrity of major transmission lines in lightly populated areas. It would also bar regulators from setting standards for industry on detecting leaks. Instead, it tells regulators to study both issues and come back with findings in a year or two.

After a series of gas and oil pipeline accidents over the past year, the Department of Transportation recently said it was considering whether to require operators to examine the integrity of major pipelines everywhere, not just in densely populated areas as is currently required.

The bill was posted online Wednesday by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. The committee is tentatively scheduled to vote on it on Thursday.

The bill “improves safety, enhances reliability, and provides regulatory certainty that will help create new jobs,” Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., the bill’s chief sponsor, said in a statement.

But safety advocates said the bill would undermine safety, and the nation’s top accident investigator cautioned against blocking regulators from imposing tougher standards on industry.

“As a result of the investigation in San Bruno and others across the country, the NTSB would be concerned about any legislation that weakens an already lax system of oversight,” board chairman Deborah Hersman said in a statement.

The board is also investigating gas pipeline explosions in Philadelphia and Allentown, Pa., and an oil pipeline spills that fouled the Kalamazoo River near Marshall, Mich.

The GOP bill is silent on several key NTSB recommendations, including that gas companies be required to install automatic shutoff valves on transmission lines in densely populated areas. The pipeline that ruptured underneath a San Bruno subdivision ignited a pillar of fire that flared like a giant blowtorch for more than 90 minutes before gas company employees could manually close valves, shutting off gas to the line.

PG&E has estimated the cost of replacing or retrofitting its current 300 manual values with automatic valves at $100,000 to $1.5 million per valve, depending on the difficulty of the installation. Federal regulators have also said they are considering requiring operators to install more automatic valves.

Another NTSB recommendation not in the bill is that all gas transmission pipelines constructed before 1970 be subjected to a hydrostatic pressure test that incorporates a spike test. Pipelines constructed before 1970, like the one in San Bruno, are exempted from the testing requirements.

“It’s surprising that right after NTSB did one of their largest investigations over one of the biggest (pipeline) tragedies that this bill pays so little attention to those recommendations and actually steps backwards,” Carl Weimer, executive director of the Pipeline Safety Trust, a safety advocacy group.

Oil sands critics target a new concern – pipelines

The crude oil that is pulled from Canada’s oil sands is thick and heavy, a black tar-like substance that takes large amounts of energy and effort to make into end products like gasoline and diesel. Even some people in the Alberta energy industry describe it as “nasty” stuff.

But is it also dangerous?

Over the past few months, critics of the oil sands have taken a new tack. They are now arguing that oil sands crude, which contains more contaminants than traditional sources of crude, poses a risk to pipeline safety – and they’ve linked the recent spate of North American oil pipeline spills to what they say is the corrosive content of oil sands products.

It’s an argument that began with environmental groups, but has now been taken up by legislators. Last week, for example, Alcee Hastings, a U.S. Democratic congressman, warned that “the risk of an oil spill from these tar sands pipelines is very real.”

“The oil eats away the pipelines, compromising them and leading to frequent spills,” he said during a debate on the proposed TransCanada Corp. Keystone XL pipeline, which will bring oil sands crude to the U.S. Gulf Coast if it is approved. That echoes a February report from the Natural Resources Defense Council, an influential U.S. environmental group, which called oil sands crude a “highly corrosive, acidic, and potentially unstable” substance that “may be putting America’s public safety at risk.”

That conclusion has always been contradicted by industry, which has maintained that oil sands crude is safe. TransCanada, for example, has argued that it simply would not place at risk its $13-billion Keystone line by filling it with a dangerous substance. Yet the debate highlights the political obstacles that exist for the project, a crucial piece of infrastructure for getting the ever-rising volume of Alberta oil to market.

The two sides have left little middle ground between them. So who is right?

Interviews with academics, engineers and federal officials make clear that oil sands crude does indeed appear to pose additional risks. But those risks are largely borne by refineries that have had to deal with a dirtier and more corrosive substance than industry has been accustomed to.

In pipelines, independent sources suggest that the danger is substantially lower. Indeed, in decades past, thick bitumen was actually used to coat pipelines as protection against corrosion. And pipelines are partly shielded by the fact that they operate nearer room temperatures. Refineries, in contrast, process crude at up to 400 degrees Celsius, and the fierce heat promotes a series of chemical interactions that don’t happen at lower temperatures.

The corrosion question largely surrounds the properties of diluted bitumen, also called “dilbit.”

Oil sands producers generally produce two different products. One, “synthetic crude,” has passed through a sort of pre-refinery, called an upgrader, to transform it into a lighter substance that contains far fewer impurities. Dilbit comes from producers that don’t run upgraders. Instead, they take the oil sands crude and, with minimal processing, thin it with a lighter oil and pump it into a pipeline. As a result, it contains far higher levels of numerous noxious substances, including sulphur, acids, salts and sediments.

That in itself has raised some concerns.

Take sulphur, for example. Oil sands crude contains sulphur levels up to 10 times higher than other oil. But in dilbit, the sulphur is locked up with heavy oil molecules. As a result, it is largely harmless inside a pipeline, said Harvey Yarranton, a professor of chemical and petroleum engineering at the University of Calgary.

“You’d have to put it into reaction temperatures to release that sulphur – and those are above 300 Celsius,” he said.

Acids and salts are also found in substantially elevated levels in dilbit. But both substances are “not corrosive under pipeline conditions,” according to Natural Resources Canada, whose researchers have studied the corrosiveness of different oils. Acids need temperatures above 200 Celsius for corrosion to occur, the government said in a statement.

One area of concern remains sediments – little bits of sand that are embedded in oil. Industry measures these in pounds per 1,000 barrels. Conventional oil might measure 30 to 50 pounds per 1,000 barrels. Scott Bieber, a marketing manager with oil field services giant Baker Hughes Inc., has seen oil sands bitumen hit 500.

Sediments can contribute to corrosion in pipelines – and they have become a significant menace in refineries, where they have proven difficult to remove and help foul wastewater, Mr. Bieber said.

And environmental critics say that with the expansion in the oil sands, more study needs to be done of the effects dilbit has on pipelines. In particular, the thickness of oil sands crude – it’s far more viscous than conventional oil – creates friction inside pipelines that creates higher temperatures.

With Keystone XL, TransCanada has predicted temperatures as high as 55 Celsius. That remains far from the heat in a refinery, but higher temperatures do speed corrosion, and Anthony Swift, an energy analyst with the National Resources Defense Council, said governments both in Canada and the U.S. should take notice.

“There’s enough information out there about [the risks of] this stuff that merits a study,” he said. “The government should be protecting the public, and it’s a huge concern when they turn a blind eye to a potential danger.”

SOURCE: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/industry-news/energy-and-resources/oil-sands-critics-target-a-new-concern-pipelines/article2116408/

Pipeline with Coating Degradation benefit from Deep Well Anode Solution

MATCOR Mini-Deep Anode
The MATCOR Mini-Deep Anode will protect the system for 20 years or more

An International Petrochemical Company contracted with MATCOR to review assessment data gathered more than 10 years earlier.  MATCOR’s initial findings showed the existing Cathodic Protection System was struggling to maintain criteria.  To determine the exact cause of the problems MATCOR launched a comprehensive survey of 20 miles of 26 inch pipeline.

From the initial review of the pipeline, it became clear that the existing Cathodic Protection system did not have the capacity to distribute DC current effectively. MATCOR’s technicians performed Close Interval Surveys (CIS), Pipeline Current Mapping (PCM), and Direct Current Voltage Gradient (DCVG) surveys.  In addition, MATCOR took soil samples and had them analyzed, measuring pH, sulfates and sulfides, chlorides and moisture content.  The results corresponded with the smart pig runs, which further validated the testing and data analysis.  The survey revealed significant coating degradation.

It was clear from the current requirement test results that a new Cathodic Protection System was necessary.  The client’s choice was MATCOR’s patented Mini-Deep Anode System, which is very easily installed without disruption to the pipeline.

In all, 15 Mini-Deep Anodes were used to protect 40-plus miles of pipeline and connecting laterals.

MATCOR strategically placed ground beds approximately one mile east and west of the rectifiers.  On a new pipeline, each MATCOR Mini-Deep Anode can protect many miles of line, but since these pipelines experienced coating degradation, MATCOR designed the system to protect the existing lines from low structure to electrolyte potentials.

Upon completion of the testing and commissioning of the rectifier and ground bed system, this pipeline system, with associated laterals, was able to achieve -850mV OFF potential throughout its entire length.

The client was concerned that the 100mV criterion would have to be used in certain areas due to poor coating conditions; however, this was not the case.  MATCOR achieved complete integrity by incorporating the correct combination of engineering, design, and cooperation from the client.

The Mini-Deep Anodes will protect the system for 20 years or more.

Galveston’s tall ship Elissa no longer seaworthy…corrosion issue

GALVESTON, Texas — The official tall ship of Texas is in trouble.

The iron and steel bottom of the three-masted 1877 Elissa is nearly rusted through in places, prompting the U.S. Coast Guard to declare that the vessel is not seaworthy.

Officials at the Texas Seaport Museum in Galveston where the Elissa is berthed were astonished when a Coast Guard inspection earlier this year revealed the rotten hull.

The tall ship is inspected twice every five years, said John Schaumburg, museum assistant director. The latest inspection uncovered the worst rot since the tall ship was rebuilt in 1982, he said.

Very little corrosion was discovered during the previous dry dock in 2008, prompting surprise that the bottom could have deteriorated so quickly, Schaumburg said.

“Everyone’s jaw just dropped,” said Ed Green, one of about 100 volunteer crew members from Houston. About half of the volunteers are from Houston, as are most of the ship’s visitors, Schaumburg said.

No one knows for sure what caused the rapid deterioration, but officials suspect that Hurricane Ike might be the culprit. Elissa rode out the September 2008 storm at a special mooring designed for violent storms, losing a sail, a spar and suffering some other minor damage.

The worst damage was unseen, Schaumburg said. Sea water eats into any metal, so 15 zinc “anodes” are fastened to the hull to draw off the corrosion. Naturally occurring electrical currents draw the corrosion to the anodes, Schaumburg explained.

Officials believe that an electric current, possibly caused by an electric line dislodged by the storm, may have caused the rapid erosion, he said.

The series of inspections were conducted at the Bollinger Texas City LP ship yard. Enough repair was done to allow the Elissa to sail back to Galveston, where it will remain until it celebrates the 30th anniversary of its reconstruction at a Greek shipyard.

By then the museum hopes to have raised $3 million to replace the hull as well as do a long overdue replacement of the fir deck and deck furniture, such as the companionway and skylight.

Schaumburg said officials won’t know until refitting begins whether the entire hull below water will need replacement or only the 54 corroded steel plates, each 4 feet by 10-12 feet. If all goes according to plan, the Elissa will be sailing again in 2012, he said.

The museum is negotiating with a professional fundraiser and has established a system that allows $10 donations to be made by texting 50555.

Green, a 7-year volunteer, said it is vital that the Elissa keep sailing.

“The Elissa is indicative of the types of ships that brought commerce to Galveston and to Texas,” Green said. “I think it’s important to keep that part of history for everyone to see it.”

SOURCE: http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/ap/tx/7650327.html