Podcast Transcript: Ali Morshed on the Benefits of Asset Corrosion Management

NACE International member and Consultant Corrosion Engineer Ali Morshed joins the MP Interview Series. Topics discussed on the podcast include the concept of corrosion management; the benefits of corrosion management in hydrocarbon and non-hydrocarbon industries; and his soon-to-be published book on the subject. A complete transcript of this episode is available below.

The third edition of his book, titled “An Introduction to Asset Corrosion Management in the Oil and Gas Industry” and published by NACE, will be available later this fall.

[introductory comments]

Rebecca Bickham: Hi, Ali. How are you doing today?

Ali Morshed: Hello, Rebecca, and hello to everybody who is listening. I’m fine, and thank you very much for your kind invitation.


RB: Thank you so much for being here with me today. I’d like to start by having you tell our listeners a little bit about your educational and career background.

AM: Thank you for that. I received my bachelor’s degree in Iran. After that, I moved to the U.K. in 1996. I went to Imperial College. They had a one-year master course on corrosion engineering. I did that master’s degree on corrosion engineering at Imperial College London. Toward the end of my master’s, I received a very generous PhD scholarship from BP, that’s British Petroleum, to do a PhD in corrosion engineering. I moved to University College London, or UCL, and did my PhD there.

After finishing my PhD in the latter half of 2002, I left London and moved to Aberdeen in Scotland, U.K. and started working as a corrosion engineer. As you know, the North Sea has plenty of oil and gas reserves, and there are hundreds and hundreds of offshore platforms producing hydrocarbons there. I worked there for around four to five years… and when I had enough experience, I was able to travel internationally and work in other countries and other regions as well. What I found very interesting was that during our education of Imperial and UCL and during the early years in my career when I was working in the U.K.’s North Sea sector, we were taught that if you had a corrosion problem, the root causes were corrosion engineering related.

Corrosion engineering has got three complements, which are design, material selection, and controlling the environment, like chemical treatment. This was what I referred to as the traditional or classical integrative management view. That if there is a corrosion problem, the root cause is corrosion engineering related, so the solution has to be also corrosion engineering related. Through those years, I found out that there were many non-corrosion engineering related factors that played a very important part in our corrosion problems and in resolving of corrosion problems. That helped me to formulate a model which I later called corrosion management, which is being used these days, for the past eight years, as a means to mitigate and control corrosion initially in the hydrocarbon industry and later in the non-hydrocarbon industry.

To make a very long story short, I worked in the U.K., I was based in the U.K. mainly in Aberdeen between 2002 and 2013, working both in the North Sea and internationally in Africa, in the Persian Gulf region, and in south Asia. In 2013, I moved to Saudi Arabia and worked for Saudi Aramco for two years. I was there until around mid-2015, and then I left Saudi Aramco and I became a freelance corrosion engineer or a freelance consultant. Since then, most of my activities have been providing corrosion management services, which are consultancy and training. I do love writing, and I have written, including my latest book, five books with NACE and around 18 papers — again, most all of them with NACE. I believe that’s it.


RB: Thank you, Ali. It sounds like you've had a really incredible career. Your latest book is titled, An Introduction to Asset Corrosion Management in the Oil and Gas Industry. As you mentioned, it will be published by NACE. Can you give me a little bit of background on the book?

AM: Yes, definitely. As you said, this is the third edition of the book. The first edition was published by NACE in 2012, and by 2014 it had become a best-seller. It was very well received by both the hydrocarbon industry and the non-hydrocarbon industry. I had written it mainly for the former, as I was back then only working in the hydrocarbon industry. But then I started getting hints and calls that people in various non-hydrocarbon industries had purchased the books and were very happy with the guidelines and instructions there. So NACE came back to me, I believe it was the latter half of 2014. They suggested that we go for a second edition. The second edition was published in 2016. It was fully revised and updated to reflect my improved knowledge and experience since the first edition was published. The third edition, which will be published I believe by this late October, early November, again has been totally revised and updated.

Since I submitted the manuscript for the second edition, I’ve had the chance to work in the upstream oil and gas sector, in the midstream, and in the downstream, with petrochemical companies, oil and gas refineries, and gas distribution companies, as well as various non-hydrocarbon industries like the marine industry, the agriculture industry, the chemical industry. All this experience has enabled me to enrich the content of this third edition. It has got around 16 case studies. I have also added some corrosion management exercises to the book. Thanks to the reception it had for its first and second edition, I hope that it would also be very well received when it’s published.

One more thing I have to add regarding the third edition: I have been providing asset corrosion management training very extensively since I started working as a freelance corrosion engineer. Based on my own statistics, I have trained around 1,000 people in corrosion management and risk-based inspection in the past five years. During this training courses, I had plenty of time to engage with my students and discuss many, many corrosion cases, both during the classes or after the classes. Such experiences, I mean interactions with my students, has taught me a great deal about the root causes of many of our corrosion issues.

What I would like to highlight here, Rebecca, is that when we deal with corrosion, we have to take into consideration both corrosion engineering-based and non-corrosion engineering-based factors. By the latter I mean factors or parameters like communication, competency, procedures, strategies, team structures, plant integrity windows. These are all non-corrosion-based parameters, but they play a very significant role in mitigating corrosion in our assets. This is what has been highlighted very clearly in my latest book.


RB: That’s some great information. Thank you. Can you explain the meaning of the term or concept of corrosion management for our listeners?

AM: Yes, but before we go to the definition of the concept, let me provide you some background as to where this concept came from. The corrosion management term came from the U.K. North Sea oil and gas industry in the late ’90s and early 2000s. U.K. is the birthplace for the concept. What I have to highlight here is that, unfortunately, still today there are many individuals, both in the hydrocarbon industry and in the non-hydrocarbon industry, who regard the term “corrosion management” as a mere synonym for corrosion engineering. When they talk about corrosion management, they are actually talking about corrosion engineering, because to them these two terms are synonyms, and this is, I believe, a wrong approach. Because corrosion management is a rather new and fresh term, there is still a great deal of confusion about its definition and its application.

In all the books and articles that I’ve been writing for NACE, I have used another definition which I believe is much more useful and practical. Based on this definition, corrosion management is the process of reviewing the required integrity management measures, regularly monitoring of their performance, and assessment of their effectiveness post-commissioning. So, when you look at this definition, corrosion management comprises three components, or three smaller processes. One, or the first one, is the integrity review process. The second one is the performance monitoring process. And the third one, or the last one, is the assessment of effectiveness.

I give you one example so you can understand what is meant by this process or definition. In the oil and gas industry, we inject corrosion inhibitors into the system in order to control or mitigate the internal corrosion of our piping vessels or pipelines. A corrosion inhibitor is a chemical, most of the time a film-forming chemical, which produces a thin film on the inner surface of our equipment, thus separating them from the corrosive environment. If I want to apply the corrosion management concept to corrosion inhibitor injection, we mentioned that the corrosion management concept has got three smaller processes.

The first one was the integrity review process. So if I want to select and then inject a corrosion inhibitor, I have to review all the parameters which affect and influence the successfulness or the efficiency of a corrosion injection project. Such parameters include the location at which I inject the corrosion inhibitor, the concentration at which I inject a corrosion inhibitor, the type of the chemical which is going to be injected, the chemical compatibility of the system of course if you’re injecting a few different chemicals (beforehand you have to ensure that all these chemicals are compatible, i.e., they do not neutralize each other). Another parameter is the order at which we inject these chemicals. Another one is the process conditions, the flowrate, the temperature is too high, it might degrade the corrosion inhibitor chemical you are going to inject. These are the parameters which have to be taken into consideration, and you do that during your integrity review process.

Once you have started injecting your corrosion inhibitor, we go to the second process within the corrosion management concept, which is monitoring the performance. Of course, if you're injecting the corrosion inhibitor, your main target is to reduce the internal corrosion rate, so you have to monitor the inhibited corrosion rate, that is, you have to monitor the corrosion rate downstream of the location you are injecting your corrosion inhibitor. You have to have a measure of the corrosion rate after the injection of your chemical.

The third process within the corrosion management concept was the assessing of the effectiveness. Once you have measured your inhibited corrosion rate, then you have to compare it with an acceptable inhibited corrosion rate to make sure that the rate you have measured, the rate you have recorded is equal to or less than that acceptable corrosion rate. Thus, you are assessing the effectiveness of your chemical treatment. If your measured corrosion rate is equal to or lower than your acceptable corrosion rate, then you're doing fine. If not, then you go back to the integrity review process. You have again to review all the parameters to make sure that your corrosion inhibitor is meeting its target, that’s the accepted corrosion rate.

All in all, the corrosion management process is defined as a process comprising three smaller processes, which are the integrity review process, the performance monitoring process, and the assessment of effectiveness process. This is my offered and preferred definition for the corrosion management concept.


RB: That’s a great explanation. Thank you. It leads me into my next question, which is, What are the main benefits of corrosion management applications for hydrocarbon and also for the non-hydrocarbon industries?

AM: Thank you. This is a very interesting and very important question, Rebecca. As I mentioned earlier, according to our traditional way of education and training, when we were dealing with corrosion issues in the industry, we always looked into corrosion engineering-based parameters, like design, material selection, and controlling the environment. But the corrosion management concept teaches us that there are also non-corrosion engineering-based parameters which control corrosion mitigation as well.

When we take into consideration both the corrosion engineering-based and the non-corrosion engineering-based parameters, we can see the whole picture more clearly. As you can see the picture more clearly, you see your corrosion problems better. And when you see your corrosion problems better, you can offer and implement better solutions. This corrosion management application provides a great deal of benefits. I will just mention a few of them. One of them is that through the corrosion management process, you can identify your existing and future deterioration mechanisms.

One of the problems I have seen with oil and gas companies in different countries is that when you visit them, they say, “We have had corrosion leaks for the past 15 years. Please tell us what we should do to stop the leaks.” I ask them, the first question I ask, “What is your deterioration mechanisms or what is your corrosion mechanism?” They say, “We don’t know.” Through the corrosion management concept and the first process within it, which is the integrity review, we try to find out what are the acting or existing deterioration mechanisms. Once you know what your deterioration mechanism is, then you can come up with a solution to stop it or mitigate it. So identification of the existing or future deterioration mechanisms is one great benefit.

The other benefit is reduced deterioration rates. Through the corrosion management concept, you have a better understanding, more clear understanding of the system, your operational parameters, process parameters, and corrosion problems. You do better inspections, you use your corrosion rate monitoring and sampling systems more efficiently, and that helps you to have a better mitigation program in place, and that means you can more successfully and more efficiently reduce your corrosion rates or your deterioration rates. It stands to reason once you have managed to reduce your corrosion rates, you will have less corrosion leaks.

Another benefit which I can list here is the increased asset uptime. Of course, when you work in the oil industry, oil and gas industry, every now and then, because of the corrosion issues and corrosion leaks, you have to stop operation. You have to have an operation shutdown. But if you can manage to reduce the number of your corrosion accidents and corrosion leaks, you will be operating and producing for a longer time. So increased asset uptime is another great benefit.

Another benefit that we see is extending asset operational life beyond the design considerations. If you have designed your asset for 30 years and you manage to keep your deterioration or corrosion rates low, maybe you can operate your asset for 35 years instead of 30 years, or even 40 or 50 years. So that’s another great benefit.

Other benefits include improved personnel safety and environmental protection. Of course, if you're having lesser leaks… then the safety on site and the environmental protection are increased.

Another very important benefit of corrosion management implementation is that our inspections become risk based. You know we have got different types of inspections, which are the consequence-based inspections, time-based inspections, and the risk-based inspection. In an asset where we are implementing corrosion management, the inspections become risk based. When they are risk-based, they have a greater capability to find corrosion failures before they happen. In other words, when you're implementing corrosion management, you are actually enhancing your corrosion failure preemption capability. That’s very important, so I have to reiterate it here again. Through corrosion management applications, our inspections become risk based. When we are carrying out risk-based inspections, we enhance the corrosion failure preemption capability of our team or of our asset. We have a greater ability to identify corrosion leaks before they actually become a leak or an issue.

Another important benefit of corrosion management application are cost benefits. Through corrosion management application, you optimize your corrosion and integrity costs. It’s very obvious. If through corrosion management applications you're reducing the number of your leaks, you're reducing the costs. Because after each leak, you have to pay for repair and maintenance. You have to pay for extra labor. You have to pay for the transfer of spare parts to the location. Sometimes there are legal fees, there are fines. So if you manage to reduce the number of leaks, you are reducing your corrosion costs.

Of course, as I mentioned earlier, because in the corrosion management process we mentioned the first small process is the integrity review, you will review all the mitigation measures you have got in place. If you are injecting a chemical, you review the parameters which influence it. If you have got a coating, you will review the parameters which affect the successful performance of the coating. If you have got a cathodic protection system, you do the same. You are already spending money on your chemical treatment, on your inspection, on your coating, on your cathodic protection system. But through corrosion management, all this spending will become very wise spending because you're improving the effectiveness of all these different programs. Through improving them, you are actually making them more efficient. Cost optimization is one of the greatest benefits of corrosion management applications.


RB: Finally, Ali, why do you recommend this book to potential readers or users?

AM: Thank you for the question. Rebecca, I consider myself extremely lucky that I was given the opportunity to travel a lot, work in many different countries with many different companies, both engineering companies and operation companies. Since a few years ago, I started providing corrosion management services to the non-hydrocarbon sector. This experience has helped me to see a better picture concerning the type of problems we make in industry which lead to corrosion, which lead to corrosion leaks, which lead to corrosion accidents.

I have to say, both fortunately and unfortunately, many of the corrosion problems today, even some of the most complicated ones, have got very simple roots and are due to some very trivial misses. I say unfortunately because it’s sometimes unbelievably easy to improve our corrosion mitigation system through improved communication, improved competency, better teamwork, better procedures. I have to say fortunately because most of the time, the improvements you can make in the system, Rebecca, are extremely cheap or sometimes you don’t have to even spend any money. I give you a few examples.

You have got a leak with sampling program ongoing, but unfortunately the way you sample, you prepare the samples, is not correct. The samples got contaminated or oxidized before they reached the lab. You spend half an hour and you revise or rewrite a new sampling procedure, a new liquid sampling procedure, that helps you to prepare more accurate samples. You reduce the amount of contamination. Hence, the lab receives the higher quality of liquid samples, and they are accordingly able to provide you with better results.

Another example is that you are already spending a great deal of time on your inspection campaign, but your inspection is time based. We all know that a time-based inspection is not as good as a risk-based inspection. If you revise it to the extent that your time-based inspection becomes a risk-based one, you might be spending the same amount of money but you have already improved your corrosion failure preemption capability.

I have tried to capture all these issues during all these years that I’ve been working and providing training. I have added all them in this third edition. It’s a better book, in my humble opinion, compared to the second one, which was published back in 2016. I believe by reading the book, you will have a better ability or a better capability to fight and mitigate corrosion in your own industry, whether it’s the upstream, the midstream, or the downstream oil and gas sector, or even if it’s a non-hydrocarbon industry.


RB: Ali, I’d like to thank you so much for joining me today.

AM: It has been a great pleasure, Rebecca. Thank you very much again for your very kind invitation and having provided me with this opportunity to talk about my book and the concept of corrosion management.

RB: It’s been my pleasure.

[closing statements]