Corrosion Management for Pipeline Integrity Roundtable: Part 1

For the oil and gas pipeline industry, the application of sound corrosion management principles can significantly reduce costs.

For the last several years, NACE International and the NACE International Institute have committed to researching, determining, and supporting best corrosion management practices throughout organizations to ensure safer, long-lasting protection of assets such as pipelines; increase return on investment (ROI) while decreasing life cycle costs; and preserving the environment. To explain the value of corrosion management systems (CMS), how they work, and what programs and platforms are available to help organizations improve their corrosion control programs, three experts in oil and gas pipeline corrosion management share their knowledge and experience with CMS. They are Michael Ames, Chapman Engineering; Gerry Koch, DNV GL; and David Kroon, Aegion Corporation.

NACE: At what point in your career did you begin your involvement with corrosion management processes?

David Kroon (DK): It is fair to say that I have been involved in corrosion management my entire career—which, at this point, is a long time. Prior to the Natural Gas Pipeline Safety Act of 1968, all decisions related to corrosion and prevention were driven by managing safety, environmental protection, and economics. As a field engineer, I would test the soil, groundwater, and other environmental conditions to determine the requirements for achieving the design life of the asset to be built. Construction materials, protective coatings, cathodic protection (CP), and alternating or direct current interference mitigation recommendations would subsequently be developed and facilities designed. It was common for the designated design life for the asset to be 20 years, with little effort or thought given to the real need or expectation. Today the design life for new construction is most often 50 or even 100 years. With this expectation, it is now imperative that we manage corrosion to meet the ROI that formed the basis for funding the project.

Gerry Koch (GK): I started thinking about corrosion management seriously during my work on the U.S. Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Cost of Corrosion Study1 that was released some 17 years ago in 2002. While the major conclusion of the study was that the total annual direct cost of corrosion was around US$276 billion—equivalent to 3.1% of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP)—the study also concluded that indirect costs could be as high as 10 times the direct costs. A case was made to corporate management and other major stakeholders that the cost of corrosion cannot be lowered by technical means only and that commitment from the top of an organization is required to accomplish the goal of lowering both direct and indirect costs of corrosion. With NACE taking forward the conclusions of this report, a number of organizations, most notably the U.S. Department of Defense, as well as international and national oil companies, took on the task of developing a corrosion management program.

While over the past 10 years or so, understanding of corrosion mechanisms and corrosion technology have improved significantly, the global cost of corrosion has remained essentially the same in terms of the respective countries’ GDPs. Hence, NACE took on a program to assess global corrosion management practices and to develop a framework for corrosion management, which resulted in the International Measures of Prevention, Application, and Economics of Corrosion Technologies (IMPACT) Study.2 I was fortunate to be involved in this program and assist NACE in developing the framework for a corrosion management assessment tool. This tool, IMPACT PLUS,3 allows organizations to assess where they are and where they want to go following a roadmap developed during the assessment.

Michael Ames (MA): My involvement began in 1983 when I became the backup for my pipeline company’s corrosion specialist. Soon he retired, and I began fulltime work as a corrosion specialist in 1984. At that time my certifications in corrosion were nonexistent, but I had been analyzing gas and liquid pipeline samples for corrosive properties in our company laboratory for the previous several years. CP seemed initially to be a “voodoo” science as there was nothing about it in my electrical engineering classes; however, with my chemical and electrical background, the electrochemistry at the crux of corrosion control became a natural to me. I then began my participation in the company procedures involving corrosion control, and this continued to the current day where I am still reviewing policy and procedures of CMS documents for numerous companies. These reviews still point to the iconoclastic position these procedures occupy in many companies, with great parts of the company personnel and departments unaware of any involvement in corrosion control of their primary assets. These situations are covered by the new NACE IMPACT PLUS role of “Navigator.” To help enhance my abilities, I participated in the Navigator training in the IMPACT PLUS Corrosion Management Maturity Model (CMMM). The extensive integration of corrosion involvement of all facets of an enterprise is well developed, and the tools provided are very beneficial in helping a company connect all areas of the enterprise to their involvement of corrosion control.

NACE: What is the value of employing a CMS, specifically in the oil and gas pipeline industry?

Many pipeline companies have well-developed corrosion procedures that enable their work staff in the field to control corrosion.GK: The greatest benefit, in my opinion, is that with a properly implemented corrosion management program, corrosion decisions and practices can be integrated within an organizational management system. The organization as a whole must commit to the ownership of the CMS and its processes, which means that buy-in at all levels of the organization must exist (i.e., buy-in at both the top and bottom of the organization). Once everyone is “on board” and corrosion has become a culture within the organization, corrosion control and management can be treated as an investment rather than merely an expense, and proper appropriation of funding can be made. This allows the optimization of corrosion management maintaining the integrity of assets while achieving a high ROI.

DK: The greatest value is to reap the full financial benefit of compliance with corrosion control and asset integrity regulations while operating in a safe and environmentally responsible manner.

The IMPACT Study was published by NACE International in 2016. The global cost of corrosion was researched and estimated to be $2.5 trillion, or 3.4% of the GDP by country. Most important was that it was demonstrated that 15 to 35% of the cost of corrosion could be saved using currently available corrosion control technologies and practices. Unlike some of the earlier cost of corrosion studies, this work included an evaluation of industry best practices for managing corrosion to reduce operating costs and enhance safety and environmental protection. For the oil and gas pipeline industry, the application of sound corrosion management principles can significantly reduce costs. One of the key areas to address are performance indicators to measure the financial impact of corrosion management. Operational data analysis and corrosion management over the life of the asset are essential.

MA: In my experience, most pipeline companies have well-developed corrosion procedures that enable their work staff in the field to control corrosion. For the most part, these procedures are intended to not only protect their assets, but also to meet or exceed regulations concerning pipeline safety both for gas or liquid pipelines. However, for many there is little or no extension of these procedural links to other departments of the company. There are missing opportunities to involve every part of the company to understand their impact to pipeline safety and corrosion management. This is a part of a “silo” mentality in that other parts of the company do not know how they may impact corrosion management, as it has never been discussed or explained. Even essential links such as the engineering/construction groups may not have direct connection with operations and technical management in the important aspects of each group’s involvement in the life cycle implications of corrosion management of the assets they all touch. The IMPACT PLUS CMMM program clearly shows those links and provides tools to connect them together into the important wholistic approach to a mature corrosion management model.

This article was originally published in the March 2019 issue of Pipeline & Gas Journal. Part 2 of this roundtable discussion will be posted by MP in September.


1 G.H. Koch, et al., “Corrosion Costs and Preventive Strategies in the United States,” Publication no. FHWA-RD-01-156 (McLean, VA: U.S. FHWA, 2002).

2. G.H. Koch, et al., “International Measures of Prevention, Application, and Economics of Corrosion Technologies Study” (Houston, TX: NACE International, 2016),


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