[This podcast was recorded in October 2020.]
Rebecca Bickham: Hi, Bob. How are you doing today?
Bob Franco: Very good, Rebecca, and hello, listeners to the podcast. Very nice to be talking to you today.
RB: It’s nice to have you. Bob, you’ve had an impressive career spanning over several decades. Can you start by giving our listeners an overview of your educational and career background?
BF: Yes, absolutely. I have a bachelor’s degree in metallurgical engineering and a master’s degree in metallurgy. I started my career as Esso, now ExxonMobil, back in 1969. I spent 43 years with that corporation working all phases of their operation, including refining, chemical operations, and upstream production. All of these were in material selection and corrosion control activities, inspection planning, failure analysis, course instruction, developing standards and best practices, but all involved with materials and corrosion.
The bulk of my career was in upstream production — it was 28 years in that. Since retiring in January 2013, I have been president and owner of the Franco Corrosion Consulting, LLC. Most of my outside consulting activities have been associated with pipeline integrity and both internal and external corrosion control activities for pipelines.
RB: Wonderful. Before we start talking about the book, what is some information you’d like our listeners to know about corrosion control in the oil and gas industry?
BF: The thing that I would like the listeners to know is that, first, challenges still abound. They are there with things that still can be very challenging and difficult problems to solve. The other thing, of course, is with the reduced price of fossil fuel and reduced usage. Experienced staff is retiring, so we’re going to have a loss of experience in that. There’s a lot of experiences to draw from that we’ve put in the book to help guide the reader in solving their everyday and difficult problems. The combined experience of the authors exceeds 80 years.
Of course, we were working off the previous editions to the book. The second edition author was very experienced as well, Harry Byars. We’ve combined a lot of experiences into this book, making it a very practical, user-friendly book. The audience for which we were writing it was the relatively inexperienced corrosion engineer and also the experienced engineer who is responsible for integrity management programs for equipment and pipelines, but he’s not a specialist in corrosion. He may be a mechanical or civil engineer or things of that nature. He may not have a background in corrosion. But his or her job responsibility requires knowledge of corrosion but not a deep, fundamental, or theoretical knowledge of corrosion.
It’s a practical application of knowledge. We targeted the book for that kind of an audience. The book is practical. It’s comprehensive. It covers all phases of corrosion control. It addresses all aspects of the industry, from down hole to flow lines, processing facilities, and pipelines. So we’ve covered a wide gamut of the operations involved. We’re hoping that we’re giving the reader the benefit of our experiences and of industry’s experiences, not just the authors’ experiences.
RB: That’s some valuable information. Thank you for sharing that. You did mention the book. You’re the co-author of the book. It’s titled Corrosion Control in Petroleum Production, and it’s the third edition. NACE is going to be publishing it. Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about the book? Also, could you tell us how the third edition differs from the first and second?
BF: Absolutely. I’m the author of 7 out of the 11 chapters in the book. Tim Bieri is the author of the other 4. It’s a major revision to Harry’s Byars’ second edition, which was issued in 1999. Which, in itself, was a significant upgrade to the original edition issued in 1979. Which I unfortunately threw out when the 1999 version came out. It historically would have been interesting to have kept it.
Anyway, the third edition does differ from the prior two editions in that we’ve — all aspects of the book have been updated to reflect current field practices, industry standards, and research findings. We used a lot of findings from publications and NACE documents to fill in and direct the readers to where they could find additional information beyond what the book is saying.
Major upgrades from the last edition include — there’s so many, I’m not going to limit them to just this, but we have a whole discussion on corrosion under insultation. We’ve got all new photographs of forms of corrosion damage, where you can see just about every type of corrosion and cracking is documented in the chapter to help readers identify any field problems they may encounter. We’ve got a pretty comprehensive description of corrosion in processing facilities, mostly gas dehydration and gas sweetening, although we cover most of the typical processing facilities in upstream.
We also widened the range of operations. We’ve got a lot more offshore, subsea, and arctic information. We’ve included reservoir souring from seawater injection, which is a common offshore problem encountered. And we’ve got a whole new information on pipeline pigging. We’ve modernized the approaches to corrosion monitoring and inspection, in particular by incorporating the role of risk assessments in reviewing corrosion threats and barriers and in developing corrosion management and inspection programs. I think that’s a major upgrade from — that’s the modern approach to assessing needs from equipment inspection, that is, to do a risk-based process.
We’ve got a comprehensive discussion of sulfite stress cracking and stress corrosion cracking of both carbon alloy steel and corrosion-resistant alloys, with frequent references to NACE MR0175, where we point out where in the standard particular alloys are located and how to find the — well, we give the service envelopes, but we refer to the NACE MR0175 for a lot more in-depth background than we can provide in the book.
Lastly, we have an upgraded section on nonmetallic materials, composites, elastomers, and thermoplastics, including pipeline liners. That’s a broad overview of some of the major changes that we’ve done to the book. But every chapter has been touched in a dramatic way. There are some sections in some of the chapters that are mostly similar to the last edition, but those are small in comparison to the overall book, which is a real major upgrade.
RB: Great. It sounds like the book is really a wealth of information. My final question to you is, Why do you recommend this book to potential readers?
BF: I recommend the book — first of all, it’s not that the reader will be particularly interested in this. But I recommend the book because it’s my legacy document to the industry. I feel that I needed to contribute something to the industry to pass along knowledge that I’ve accumulated and that industry has accumulated to the next generation of corrosion engineers in the oil and gas production business. That’s sort of a personal aspect of why I recommend the book.
From a practical application, the practical consideration, if I was working in a major oil company or in fact even a small independent, I would be looking for a single source that provides information on all phases of the operation that I could be working in, including machinery and tanks and pressure vessels and down hole equipment and pipelines. It’s a very comprehensive book. I think there’s something for everyone in there who’s involved in this industry. Of course, we direct you to where you can get more in-depth information, and we have an extensive list of references that we’ve updated since the last edition and an extensive list of standards that we’ve updated. We’re saving a read a lot of time and effort by directing them and leading them to where information is available.
RB: Great. Bob, would you like to share your email address in case anyone would like to contact you?
BF: Oh yes. Absolutely. Listeners can reach me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I’ll be happy to address any emails.
RB: Bob, thank you so much for joining me. I really enjoyed our discussion today.
BF: So did I, Rebecca.