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Curtin and Energy Corporation Partner on Innovative Corrosion Control Project

Image Credits: Curtin University via Chevron, Press Release

The potential impacts of corrosion on major infrastructure are a common and often costly challenge faced by many offshore operators. Supported by a contribution of more than AU$ 2.5 million from the Australian branch of an American multinational energy corporation, a research team at Curtin will design, build, and operate the Extreme Service Flow Loop facility with the aim to improve corrosion management and maintenance costs, assisting operators to minimise the risk of damage to major infrastructure and the environment. The energy corporation, which has been a partner of the centre for 18 years, will supply the funding as well as support a three-year research program after the flow loop is commissioned.

The Extreme Service Flow Loop facility will mimic the flow conditions inside pipelines and other high-flow environments in the oil and gas industry. It will allow the team to measure and then predict corrosion damage by studying the effect of pipelines transporting gas fluids in a controlled environment. The team will be enabled to specify operating parameters such as flow rate, temperature, pressure, single or multiphase, piping diameter, and a selection of corrosion probes and sensors to simulate real industry operations.

The project’s lead researcher, Associate Professor Ahmed Barifcani, from the Curtin Corrosion Centre, said the company’s investment would transform corrosion control strategies around the world. He noted that Western Australia remains a leading energy producer and, therefore, it is crucial that local capabilities are developed to assist with maintaining the large-scale plants that operate in the State. The funding will allow the Curtin team to manage this ongoing issue locally here in WA, without relying on international facilities for testing.

The corrosion of engineering alloys, which are commonly used for pipelines and pressure valves in the oil and gas industry, is common and costly to maintain and repair. To remedy this, the team’s research will aim to both predict and prevent corrosion in pipelines, so they can be repaired, reducing environmental risk while also providing companies with information that can help them build oil and gas pipelines with more confidence in remote and previously inaccessible locations.

In addition, the facility will enable more effective material selection and corrosion management methods, leading to product lifetime extension and, ultimately, moving towards a circular environmentally controlled economy.

Meanwhile, the Director of the Curtin Corrosion Centre welcomed the collaboration and its positive impacts on the industry. He noted that the team at the Curtin Corrosion Centre looks forward to working together on this project with Chevron Australia, which will result in significant benefits for industries which operate near or offshore as well as all large-scale operations that might be affected by corrosion.

With completion expected in 2023, the Extreme Service Flow Loop will initially focus on the natural gas facilities in Australia’s North-West, two of the world’s largest natural gas developments. The Director of Operations at the Australia branch of the multinational energy corporation noted that was pleased to continue to partner with the Curtin Corrosion Centre to support the ongoing development of Western Australia’s world-leading energy industry.

He said that the company has always embraced innovation and implemented technology to solve the energy challenges of today and the future, adding that the firm is proud to partner with the Curtin Corrosion Centre to build local capabilities and expertise in corrosion management – an important maintenance area for our industry that has the potential to create new jobs and post-graduate research opportunities in Western Australia.

The Flow Loop concept design was carried out by Ammar Al Helal, Darwin Hartono, Fenny Kho, Yu Long, Christopher Lagat, and Francisco Vouilloz from the Curtin Corrosion Centre.

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