Corrosion and Scale

Corrosion, which is the deterioration of a metal or its properties, is one of the major life-limiting factors for energy supply and in environmental pollution control and is estimated to cost 3% GDP.   Corrosion and degradation also have a massive impact on the global economics of oil and gas production.  In the North Sea it was estimated that 60% of maintenance budgets were directly due to pipeline corrosion as a result of multiphase flow and flow assurance issues.  If not managed appropriates, corrosion can lead to pipeline failure with both economic and environmental consequences.

Mineral scale, waxes and other foulants exist as deposits of unwanted material on pipelines and other surfaces.  Over time these can block and hinder fluid flow through pipelines, valves and pumps. This can have a detrimental effect to the productivity and safety of the oil well and surface facilities.

We work with the oil and gas sector to find effective solutions to the key problems of corrosion and scale in oil wells and pipelines. Our research focuses on understanding the fundamental physics of material degradation mechanisms and on the surface processes that facilitate the crystallisation of  mineral scale, waxes and asphaltenes on surfaces. Our research has a distinct focus on providing outputs which industry can utilise to ensure safer and more efficient hydrocarbon transport. Current and past collaborations include: BG Group (now formally part of Shell), Shell Global Solutions/Shell UK Limited, Baker Hughes, UFRJ, Schlumberger, Wood Group, BP, Equinor, Outokumpu, LBBC Technologies, Total, ConocoPhillips, Chevron, Croda, ADNOC.

The University of Leeds works in collaboration with Heriot-Watt University to form the Flow Assurance and Scale Team (FAST). FAST is a group of over 20 academic, research and support staff and research students, delivering research and consultancy directly funded by industry, focusing on the management of oilfield scale.

Key academic contacts:

Current research includes:

  • Localised corrosion in H2S containing environments
  • Combined numerical and experimental approaches to predict corrosion product formation kinetics in CO2 environments
  • In situ measurements of scale formation (XRD and optical)
  • High temperature/High pressure corrosion
  • Top of line corrosion – modelling and experimental approaches
  • Understanding the precursors to localised corrosion in CO2 environments.
  • Understanding the kinetics of organic and inorganic surface fouling
  • Development of in-situ techniques for the study of real time scaling processes
  • Understanding scale formation in multiphase flow conditions
  • Developing bespoke surface solutions for scaling relying on liquid-infused surfaces

For a full list current corrosion and scale projects click here.