Inspectioneering
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Interview with Devon Energy's Corrosion Advisor, Jim Svetgoff

October 30, 2014

This interview was conducted as part of the Crude Pipeline Asset Integrity Congress 2014, hosted by American Business Conferences.


What do you see as the key challenges for pipeline operators right now in terms of maintaining crude pipeline asset integrity?

I’m an internal corrosion specialist, that’s what my expertise is in. So, from that perspective, flow is a huge issue. When we talk about high volume flow in domestic crude lines we’re looking at areas where drilling is occurring. In these areas, we’ve got a lot of liquid hydrocarbon going through pipelines so the oil experiences turbulent flow. Lines experiencing this liquid flow regime do not have internal corrosion issues. So, in the areas where we don’t have much drilling going on, most of the crude lines, the gathering systems especially, are going to experience laminar flow, and that’s where we’re going to see corrosion issues.

Laminar flow occurs when the oil is moving so slowly through the line that it the entrained water can separate from the oil and form a distinct layer in the low spots of the pipeline. We also call it stratified flow. 

What successes have you seen regarding bacteria-induced corrosion?

The successes occur when the proper biocide selection process is used, along with the proper application of the biocide. Those things along with a good pigging programme by the pipeline company.

What kinds of bacteria do you find within biofilms, and how does that dictate your biocide selection?

There are lots of different kinds of bacteria in a biofilm. The ones we most often discuss are known as sulphate-reducing bacteria and acid-producing bacteria.

There’s those two general categories and there are a number of different species within each of those two groups, that are classified as SRBs or APBs.

In the last few years, say the last 5 or 10 years, the industry has done a lot of research and found other types of microorganisms that contribute to microbially influenced corrosion. A couple of those are methanogens and Archaea. These microorganisms can generate acids and corrode pipelines. Unfortunately there’s not field method to test for Methanogens or Archaea. So we still rely primarily on SRB and APB testing.

Why do you think it’s so important for pipeline operators to come together and discuss these kinds of topics? 

I think it’s good to get together and talk because, companies have similar issues. It’s really good to discuss “what worked for you?” and “what didn’t
work for you?” that’s pretty important too. Just exchange ideas and thoughts about what you’ve done for various issues, with your peers.

Do you think that there’s enough of that happening in the industry at the moment? 

You know, I usually go to the NACE conference once a year and that’s good, but I think it could be better. It would be good to get companies to talk among themselves more often. I think things like the workshops you guys have scheduled are good for that kind of thing. 

Could you give a quick overview of what your presentation on chemical treatments is going to include? 

I’ll talk about chemical selection from both a performance perspective and a cost effectiveness perspective. The second thing will be potential issues with various types of biocides. There’s just a few of those, but it’s good to be aware of them before selecting one product or another.

And then I will discuss biocide applications techniques and how to increase the efficiency of biocide treatments.


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