The cost of corrosion is high. It can be very high.

As an example, it is estimated that pipeline corrosion alone accounts for close to US$9 billion in expenditures on an annual basis across North America, according to North American Oil & Gas Pipelines. This data makes it clear that cutting corrosion control should never be considered, with corrosion ranking as the leading cause of pipeline failures. A focus on corrosion control is essential not only for cost reasons, but due to safety and environmental factors as well.

While developing a plan for an annual budget, it is crucial to understand how a planned budget holds up relative to the averages. The annual average percentage of costs in the industry is broken down as follows: 10% failure, 38% CAPEX, and 52% operation and maintenance costs.

Compared to other industries, a figure of just 10% for failures is low. That said, the implication of a potentially unfavorable revenue impact is inversely higher. While a tank or pipeline is an asset and not a commodity, the contents of that asset are quite valuable. One of the ultimate goals for owners is to reduce loss not only during all phases of production, but during the storage and transfer processes as well. Minimizing loss and the chance for asset failure also greatly reduces liability, which reflects positively on the safety of employees, contractors, and neighboring assets.

An ongoing, proactive approach to protective coating ensures that pipes, tanks, and other assets are not exposed to destructive elements, which will in turn prevent surface breakdown and reduce the wear and tear of the assets. More importantly, the procedure and execution of the coating process must take place correctly, or the intended benefits will not be realized.

There are three basic steps must be followed to proactively protect a facility’s assets:

First, the surface that is to be coated must be carefully evaluated. There are multiple factors, including asset age, asset use or function, and environment, which must be understood and accounted for in determining what type of work should be performed.

Coating consideration
The coating itself must also be considered. A mistake that is often made is that the compatibility of the coating with the asset substrate or material is considered, but the compatibility of the new coating with the old coating and previously performed work is not. System adhesion is a potentially serious implication if two incompatible systems are used. All of these considerations are vital to the long-term success of the application.

Environmental factors
Environmental factors such as temperature, humidity, air salinity, wind, and rain, etc., all contribute to the potential wear and failure of an asset. These factors must be heavily weighed when determining the proper course of action to take with each asset. It is also important to consider that a system that has performed well in a temperate and dry area may not perform as well in a hot and humid area.

Properly preparing and then successfully applying a protective coating to the surface of a tank, pipe, or similar asset is crucial to preventing corrosion and prolonging the life of valuable equipment.

The equation for preventative maintenance is simple and straightforward: a facility with a plan and strategy for proper preventive maintenance, including safety considerations, will enjoy a higher ROI vs a reactive approach where failures occur before problems are addressed.

The bottom line: a proactive approach will consistently improve the bottom line and streamline the operations of a facility.