Inspectioneering

Integripedia Topic
Sulfidation Corrosion

Explore this topic

Sulfidation Corrosion (also known as sulfidic corrosion) is a result of naturally occurring sulfur compounds found in crude oil. In the absence of hydrogen, corrosion due to sulfur compounds in the crude is thought to occur at temperatures above 500°F (260 °C). Up to that temperature, corrosion rates due to sulfidation are relatively low, even for carbon steels, unless there is naphthenic acid present in the crude. High temperature sulfidation is one of the most well-known corrosion mechanisms in the oil refining industry because it can occur in multiple sections of the refinery.

Sulfidation corrosion results in the thinning of the pressure containment envelope, affecting components such as piping and pipe fittings, heater tubes, and pressure vessels. Most industry incidents have occurred in piping, due to lower nominal wall thicknesses compared to other equipment types. Sulfidation can be localized or general in nature for a given component; although the majority of cases exhibit general thinning. When the damage is general and thinning occurs over a large area, ruptures are possible and can lead to the potential release of large quantities of hydrocarbon streams.

Corrosive thinning of piping walls and equipment due to sulfidation depends on many factors, such as materials of construction, sulfur content of the oil, temperature, flow rate, and H2 concentration, making it hard to predict accurately. However, one predictor of higher sulfidation rates is low silicon content in carbon steel components.

Inspection methods for finding low silicon components vary, and programs differ from stripping all insulation, to the use of radiographic methods or long range guided wave UT methods to find all welds and selectively stripping insulation. This allows access to the piping on either side of the weld, as well as the weld itself.

Of course, rather than stripping insulation, there are more practical ways to perform baseline thickness checks. For example, one could use an X-ray imager to find welds and then cut a cookie in the insulation to check the thickness of each piping segment. Once the cookie has been cut, thickness checks can be done and positive material identification (PMI) could be performed. Pulsed eddy current (PEC) is also useful NDE technique for finding thin components without stripping insulation.

Sulfidation AIR Banner

Related Topics

Relevant Links

Topic Tools

Share this Topic

Contribute to Definition

We welcome updates to this Integripedia definition from the Inspectioneering community. Click the link below to submit any recommended changes for Inspectioneering's team of editors to review.

Contribute to Definition
Articles about Sulfidation Corrosion
July/August 2021 Inspectioneering Journal

Recent advances in UT technology now allow for inspection and continuous monitoring of sulfidic corrosion to be undertaken while the components are on-stream, at temperature, with high-resolution thickness data.

Authors: Tim Stevenson
July/August 2019 Inspectioneering Journal

Gasification technology has emerged in oil and gas due to the high combustion energy of Syngas and less environmental concerns than flue gas. This article discusses proper inspection and corrosion monitoring techniques for gasification units.

March/April 2017 Inspectioneering Journal

Integrity Operating Windows (IOWs) have a subset of operating variables that are important for degradation monitoring, but may not have direct operational controls. Per API RP 584 Integrity Operating Windows, these are known as IOW Informational...

Authors: A.C. Gysbers
January/February 2017 Inspectioneering Journal

This article summarizes a comprehensive survey conducted by the Research & Development Center (R&DC) of Saudi Aramco to understand top corrosion damage mechanisms experienced by its operating onshore surface facilities.

September/October 2016 Inspectioneering Journal

Although all ultrasonic smart pigging providers claim the ability to detect wall thinning and tube deformations to some degree, the inspection surface coverage, resolution, minimum wall thickness detection and reporting capabilities may vary...

Authors: Tim Haugen
Partner Content

AET is a powerful, non-intrusive inspection technique to verify the structural integrity of pressure vessels, spheres, high-temperature reactors and piping, coke drums, above-ground storage tanks, cryogenic storage tanks, and more.

November/December 2015 Inspectioneering Journal

Understanding the common factors that promote corrosion threats in the oil and gas value chain helps operators create effective inspection strategies.

Blog

I've crunched some numbers and have come up with the three most popular damage mechanisms, based on the activity of our readers, that Inspectioneering publishes information on.

Authors: Nick Schmoyer
March/April 2014 Inspectioneering Journal

High temperature sulfidation is probably the most well- known corrosion mechanism in the oil refining industry because it occurs in large sections of the refinery.

Blog

In 2013 Inspectioneering published content covering a wide array of topics, from risk-based inspection, to advanced nondestructive testing methods, to pipeline integrity management systems. Last year, we published more content than any year prior;...

Authors: Nick Schmoyer
March/April 2013 Inspectioneering Journal

Sulfidic corrosion of piping and equipment within the refining industry continues to be a significant cause of leaks and issues that can lead to early replacements, unplanned outages, and incidents potentially resulting in loss of property and...

Partner Content

Pro-Surve recently invested in the latest portable Higher Order Modes Clusters (HOMC) Guided Wave Testing tool, a new concept for the inspection of inaccessible regions using short-range guided waves. Inspection is carried out from the accessible...

September/October 2012 Inspectioneering Journal

On August 6, 2012, a piping failure occurred in the #4 Crude Unit at the Chevron U.S.A. Inc. refinery in Richmond, CA. Chevron U.S.A. would like to share some potentially significant preliminary information regarding the incident.

July/August 2004 Inspectioneering Journal

High temperature sulfidation is probably the most common high temperature corrosion nemesis in the refining industry, since there are very few “sweet” refineries still in operation. Sulfidation corrosion typically is of concern in sour oil...

Authors: John Reynolds
    Videos related to Sulfidation Corrosion
      Downloads & Resources related to Sulfidation Corrosion
        News related to Sulfidation Corrosion

          Inspectioneering Journal

          Explore over 20 years of articles written by our team of subject matter experts.

          Company Directory

          Find relevant products, services, and technologies.

          Talent Solutions

          Discover job opportunities that match your skillset.

          Case Studies

          Learn from the experience of others in the industry.

          Integripedia

          Inspectioneering's index of mechanical integrity topics – built by you.

          Industry News

          Stay up-to-date with the latest inspection and asset integrity management news.

          Blog

          Read short articles and insights authored by industry experts.

          Expert Interviews

          Inspectioneering's archive of interviews with industry subject matter experts.

          Event Calendar

          Find upcoming conferences, training sessions, online events, and more.

          Downloads

          Downloadable eBooks, Asset Intelligence Reports, checklists, white papers, and more.

          Videos

          Watch educational and informative videos directly related to your profession.

          Acronyms

          Commonly used asset integrity management and inspection acronyms.