The oil and gas industry has adopted nanostructured coatings for anti-corrosion applications. Increasingly, oil and gas production operators are seeking alternatives to traditional coatings to reduce corrosion, extend asset life and improve their bottom line.
A major problem in the Oil Country Tubular Goods market (OCTG) is the degradation of downhole pipes and tubes, surface piping, pressure vessels, storage tanks and other equipment due to corrosion, abrasion and other factors. Estimates for the cost of corrosion degradation run to about €200 billion a year in Europe and over US$270 billion a year in the U.S. The annual cost of corrosion consists of both direct costs and indirect costs. The direct costs are related to the costs of design, manufacturing, and construction in order to provide corrosion protection, and the indirect costs are concerned with corrosion-related inspection, maintenance and repairs.
The oil and gas industry has therefore begun to adopt nanostructured coatings for anti-corrosion applications.
Nanomaterials offer the potential to improve the way companies drill and complete their wells through increasing strength, durability (e.g. surface coating to avoid erosion or scale attachment) and potentially provide completion design options not possible with existing technologies. Nanomaterials may lead to fully optimized production through the employment of nanoparticle inhibitors, nano sealants and fluorescent taggants for real time reservoir monitoring.
Desirable functional properties for the oil and gas industry afforded by nanomaterials in coatings include:
• thermal conductivity (CNT, graphene)
• wear-resistance (silicon carbide, alumina, zirconia)
• corrosion-resistance (fullerenes,CNT, graphene, zirconia).
Nanocoatings have already been applied as anti-wear coatings for drilling parts, thermal coatings to lower deformation and anti-corrosion for pipelines and other long-term structures. Tesla NanoCoatings are developing their carbon nanotube Teslan coating system for application on petrochemical tanks and vessels owned by SK Global Chemical. The company claim they are engaged in the selling process to about half of the top 25 oil and gas exploration and production companies in the world. Integran (www.integran.com) produces Nanovate for nanocoatings with increased strength, hardness and thermal resistance.
Companies eager for pipeline coating solutions include many Asian and Middle East national oil and gas companies and several multinational oil and gas companies such as Shell and BP. The Russian government is also investing heavily in this area in the company Technological Systems for Protective Coatings.
California Nanotechnologies Corporation’s (www.calnanocorp.com) nano-enhanced coatings have been approved for down hole drilling by one of the largest service companies in the oil and gas industry. Cleancorp Nanocoatings (www.cleancorp.de) produces corrosion protection nanocoatings for metals in oil pipelines. Nanotech Universal (www.nanotechuniversal.com) is also producing anti-corrosion nanocoatings for the oil industry. In an initial test, 75,000 feet of treated pipe was installed between the months of May and July 2008 in shallow, low-pressure, low-temperature wells up to 1,500 feet in depth with issues ranging from hydrogen sulfide and hydrochloric acid corrosion to paraffin contamination that, over time, reduced the internal diameter of pipes and slowed flow rate.
NEI Corporation has introduced a nanotechnology-enabled, two-layer coating that significantly improves the corrosion resistance of zinc-plated and hot-dip galvanized (HDG) steel. The NEI coating is a drop-in replacement for trivalent chromium. The coating process consists of first applying NANOMYTE® PT-100, a self-healing conversion coating, followed by NANOMYTE® TC-5001. The new technology is part of NEI’s efforts to develop corrosion resistant coating systems, including pretreatments, primers and topcoats that protect steel, aluminum and magnesium from corrosion.
DuraSeal (http://durasealcoatings.com) coatings are being applied to oil and equipment as permanent seals against corrosion from sulfur, heat, water, salt, CO2 infiltration etc. The coating tolerate 800 degrees Fahrenheit, there’s minimal film build, no pressure pressure-rating change and the finished product requires no special care.
The Advance Energy Consortium (www.beg.utexas.edu/aec/), comprising companies such as BP, BakerHughes, ConocoPhilips, Halliburton, Schlumberger and Shell was established in 2008 to look at new technologies for exploitation in the oil and gas industry. Their mission is to drive pre-competitive research in micro and nanotechnologies for upstream oil and gas industry applications.