NACE International Roundtable: Decades of Advancements in Pipeline Corrosion Control

Back in 1943, NACE International was established in Houston by 11 engineers focused on cathodic protection (CP) to address metal pipeline degradation. Now, 36,000-plus members strong, NACE has evolved into a worldwide organization that is involved in every industry and area of corrosion prevention and control.

This year, NACE celebrates its 75th anniversary, a milestone made possible by the knowledge, expertise and continued support of its members from around the globe. To honor the association’s history as an organization dedicated to oil and gas pipeline corrosion control, five experts share their knowledge of the industry as well as their longtime membership in NACE.

They are Jeffrey L. Didas, MATCOR, Inc.; Ernest Klechka, CITGO Petroleum Corporation; Aida Lopez-Garrity, Mears Group, Inc.; Joseph Pikas, Technical Toolboxes; and Jack Smart, John Smart Consulting Engineer.

NACE: How and where did you get your start in the oil and gas pipeline corrosion industry? How has your career progressed since then?

Jeffrey Didas: When I graduated from community college in 1974, I took a position at Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company in the corrosion department. Since then I have done a lot of things but specialized in oil and gas corrosion control for pipelines, tanks, well casings, and refineries.

I worked for several major oil and gas companies, pipeline operators, and corrosion control consulting and engineering firms along the way. I have lived in several U.S. states and overseas twice during my career, and am currently in Arizona where I hope to retire someday.

Ernest Klechka: While at college at Cleveland State University, I had the opportunity to co-op at NASA Lewis in Cleveland. Being a metallurgical engineering student, I was assigned to the metallurgy group, which was studying metallic coatings on metal. When I graduated, I was employed by Sohio, now part of BP, in the engineering department. In the early 1970s, Sohio’s biggest project was the construction of the Trans Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS). Sohio assigned me to be part of the metallurgy committee during construction of TAPS. During construction, I worked largely with welding. However, I was also assigned to look at coatings. I have worked at several other pipeline companies since then.

Aida Lopez-Garrity: I am a metallurgical engineer with a master’s degree in corrosion science and engineering as well as a registered professional corrosion engineer. My first involvement with the corrosion industry took place while I was studying to obtain my degree in metallurgical engineering at Imperial College-University of London in England.

In order to graduate, I had to select a thesis to work on during my last year in college. From the extensive list, I selected the one related to the field of corrosion. That was my first introduction to the profession and I have enjoyed it with great passion for the rest of my career! I began my professional career in the petrochemical industry and had responsibility for mechanical and corrosion integrity.

Joseph Pikas: On April 18, 1966, I started in engineering construction with the Transcontinental Gas Pipeline Corporation, which is now Williams-Transco in Newark, NJ. After my first project – installing one of the first 42-inch outer diameter (OD) pipelines in the United States – I was introduced to rectifiers and ground beds on a second construction project that required CP of a 26-inch OD offshore pipeline that went from New Jersey to Long Island, NY.

It was sometime in late 1968 when I started doing corrosion control activities. Once I received my first certification, and progressed to a NACE corrosion specialist and CP specialist, I knew this was the path I wanted my career to follow for the rest of my life. It has allowed me to participate in projects that include nuclear, water, sewer, oil, and gas facilities. These projects took me around the world, from the desert of Algeria to the locales of Milan, Italy; Santiago, Chile; the Middle East; and Thailand.

Jack Smart: I began working in the oil and gas pipeline industry as part of my research metallurgy effort at Amoco Oil Company. After several years in the laboratory, I transferred to Amoco’s International Exploration and Production Company, and had direct involvement for corrosion control with mainly offshore oil and gas operations. This included drilling and production, offshore platform design and maintenance, and pipelines.

I spent three years in production with Amoco Trinidad Oil Company in Trinidad, West Indies, and then transferred back to the states in charge of corrosion control on a worldwide basis. While I was not assigned only to pipelines, they became an increasing part of my business until the combination of design, CP and inhibition became my major activity. Upon reaching the minimum company age for retirement, I retired and began consulting in corrosion control for oil and gas production and pipelines, which I continue to do today.

NACE: When did you join NACE International and how has your participation in the association affected your career and knowledge of pipeline issues?

Didas: I joined NACE on Jan. 1, 1975, and in 1978 joined the Technical Practices Committee (now the Technical Coordination Committee). Belonging to NACE has been a terrific. I have been able to work with the best and brightest corrosion folks over the years and via that experience have gained a tremendous amount of knowledge about all corrosion issues, particularly pipeline corrosion control.

Being a member of various technical and administrative committees allowed me to develop my leadership and management skills as I progressed up through the committees from member to chair.

Klechka: I had worked for Exxon from 1977 to 1982 and had a two-year assignment in Australia at Altona Petrochemical. When the plant was originally constructed, the piping under roads was isolated and sacrificial CP was applied. When I arrived at the plant, they were installing impressed current distributed CP to take the place of the sacrificial CP system.

I joined NACE in 1983 shortly after I moved to Alaska to work for Alyeska Pipeline Service Company, the operators of TAPS. I was urged to join NACE by employees of ARCO, BP and Sohio. Because I had some background in CP, Alyeska Pipeline assigned me to the corrosion protection group.

In 1983, NACE was reviewing the CP criteria for steel pipelines in RP0169. In Alaska, I became the secretary for a newly formed NACE section. Later I became the treasurer, vice chair, and chair of the Alaska Section of NACE.

Lopez-Garrity: I have been a member of NACE since 1983. With the help of my educational background and the work experience obtained in the petrochemical, gas and oil industries, I was able to participate in the different NACE Task Groups (TGs) that were associated with the pipeline industry.

The exchange with the excellent NACE members that came from the different pipeline sectors served as a great resource for me to gain more knowledge of the different issues that affect the pipeline industry. It was an honor for me to work with such a great group of passionate and dedicated professionals who were like-minded in their goals of enhancing safety and protecting the environment through corrosion control and integrity management.

Pikas: After completing several large pipeline engineering construction projects, pipeline operations and corrosion control projects, I became a member of NACE in 1968.

Smart: I joined NACE 47 years ago when I began working at Amoco in 1970. Since that time, NACE has been fundamental to my career, and I have been active in both technical committees and publication of papers.

NACE was and continues to be the main professional training and industrial resource in corrosion control in the oil and gas pipeline business and has developed the technologies required. It remains the main technological resource for new developments in corrosion control, not only for pipelines but for virtually all aspects of corrosion control.

I was active in a number of NACE technical committees, including CP, sulfide stress cracking (SSC), and internal corrosion of pipelines, Also corrosion prediction, offshore platform corrosion control, erosion-corrosion, corrosion monitoring and corrosion inhibitor treatment. Additionally, I handled NACE interests in offshore corrosion control, including pipelines, as a program subcommittee chair and on the Offshore Technology Conference Board of Directors.

Of equal importance to the technology developed by NACE was the development of professional relationships with other engineers in the field, with whom one could discuss problems and consult.

NACE: During your time in the pipeline industry, what do you believe have been the most important technologies or program advancements for controlling corrosion?

Didas: In principle, we are still controlling corrosion on pipelines via the same processes. Luckily, we have several advances to help us out in doing this, such as the development of the global positioning system, the internet, databases, digitalization and mobile phones. All of these have given us access to more and more data, so we have a much better idea of what is happening on or in our pipelines.

However, all this information and data and the speed that it now arrives have actually increased our workloads and put us into a real-time management system. Other advancements that have really helped are today’s coating systems for new construction, rehabilitation, and repair. Mixed metal oxide (MMO) anode technology, remote monitoring and synchronized interrupters, close interval survey technology, and corrosion-specific databases integrating all data into one geographic information system are important advancements.

There have been great leaps and bounds in internal inline inspection (ILI), and of course CP training and certification for technicians, technologists, and engineers have been crucial to qualifying personnel for this work.

Klechka: NACE began certifying coating inspectors in the mid-1980s through its Coating Inspector Program (CIP). NACE also certifies coating, CP and corrosion specialists. Recently, NACE introduced the NACE International Institute (NII), which now houses the certification programs. Other pipeline-related certifications include internal corrosion and pipeline corrosion integrity management (PCIM).

NII certification has given increased status to NACE credentials. Advances in CP, including MMO and CP design, have resulted in more effective CP systems. Deep anode systems have improved CP current distribution. Another area where improvements in corrosion control processes has produced better long-term performance of pipelines is the widespread use of PCIM. PIM has advanced data integration, ILI, field pipeline inspection and integrity documentation. High-resolution magnetic flux leakage tools and ultrasonic tools have improved the quality of ILI data. Improvements in other ILI tools, such as Emat and eddy current tools will continue to advance ILI data.

Lopez-Garrity: At the top of the list I will mention my direct involvement in the development of the External Corrosion Direct Assessment (ECDA) NACE standard, serving as the chair of the [technology group] TG that published the first industry standard on DA. The work of this TG resulted in the publication of NACE SP0502. This standard practice, “Pipeline External Corrosion Direct Assessment Methodology,” has become a joint standard between ANSI and NACE and has been adopted by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) as part of pipeline operator regulations.

Pikas: I would say abrasion-resistant overcoat coatings for horizontal directional drilling crossings, MMO linear anodes, intelligent pigs that can assess metal loss from cracking, and the modeling of internal corrosion to alternating current (AC) corrosion.

Smart: There are four most important technologies in pipeline corrosion control. These were all developed or strongly represented by NACE: CP, resistance to hydrogen sulfide, intelligent pig inspection of pipelines, and how internal multiphase flow in pipelines is so important in corrosion control.

One of NACE’s first substantial developments was the creation of the -0.85 V criterion for CP soon after NACE was established in 1943. It remains in force today largely unchanged after over 70 years. Included in the technology are the strong effects of the coatings used on pipelines in combination with CP.

The second was the development of criteria for resistance to SSC of pipelines as a member of MR-01-75 for many years. Development of intelligent pig inspection technology has and continues to be developing rapidly and provides a huge ability to inspect pipelines that are usually out of sight and otherwise difficult to inspect. Finally, the ability to determine when water can contact pipeline walls and cause corrosion has been very valuable, for conditions of too low a velocity or too high.

NACE: What developments do you predict for the future of pipeline corrosion control?

Didas: I foresee improved coatings technology, 5G communications networks, smart databases, constantly evolving ILI technology, wireless computer information systems, drones for pipeline control and surveys, along with new and innovative ideas and projects from NACE and the Pipeline Research Council International (PRCI).

Klechka: Certification of corrosion professionals will continue to become much more important. PCIM will become a specialist field. To minimize the impact of pipelines on the environment and people that live nearby, regulations such as 49 CFR, Part 192 and 195 will be applied to all critical pipelines.

Lopez-Garrity: We live in a world that is surrounded by technological advancements and innovation. Computerized-related technology is the biggest of them all. The pipeline corrosion control field will become more efficient through the use of computerized models.

The existing models that are being used nowadays (AC mitigation, stress corrosion cracking, etc.) are getting better and better and the same will take place with all the fields of corrosion (data collection, storage and transmission). The NACE Impact Plus portal is an outstanding example of innovation and technology and development that will provide the necessary tools for better policies and practices in the area of pipeline safety.

Pikas: I foresee the development of big data, finite element analysis, Bayesian and other modeling methods combined with remote monitoring to assess for risk, corrosion and integrity threats.

Smart: One major development in pipeline corrosion control is the continued integrity management for older pipelines, which are being used far longer than their original design allowed. This applies to the life of the coatings on a pipeline, to the CP and how it can be maintained and at what level for greatest integrity.

The integrity of pipelines has become a more important commercial concern as many pipelines are being encroached by housing and other developments compared to their former, often rural environments, and the fact that legal requirements have increased, including possible payments in lawsuits. Further, owners and operators of pipelines in some of the more challenging environments, such as under rivers and offshore, face possible serious ecological responsibilities.

NACE: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Didas: I am looking forward to becoming the next NACE president in April following Corrosion 2018 in Phoenix and serving the NACE membership for the next year. I would also like to thank all the folks I have worked with over the years around the world who I had the privilege to work with and share knowledge, technology, and friendships.

Klechka: Pipelines will continue to be the safest way to transport liquid and gas products. Pipeline corrosion failures will continue to decrease and their profitability will continue to improve. Thank you for this opportunity to contribute to this article. Everyone has a story. Congratulations to NACE International on its 75th Anniversary.

Lopez-Garrity: My main message for all those young individuals who have recently become members of NACE is to get involved, become a technical contributor, and a future leader and advocate. Your contributions will result in the advancement of our industry-leading corrosion control practices and will serve to enhance safety and the protection of our environment.

Pikas: To all of those who have helped me throughout my 52 years in the industry, I would like to express my thanks. I plan to continue repaying those contributions through my involvement and support.

Smart: Pipelines represent the safest and most reliable method of transporting oil and gas. It is a major obligation of NACE to be able to provide integrity management of pipelines that the public expects from the pipeline industry. It is equally important that NACE and the pipeline industry be able to explain to the public, including the press, how this is possible and achieved. Further, it has to be done in a way that nontechnical people can understand and in which they can have confidence.

Meet the Panelists

Jeffrey L. Didas, senior corrosion engineer with MATCOR, Inc. working from Tucson, AZ, is the incoming 2018-2019 NACE International president. Didas has been a member of NACE for over 40 years and served on the NACE Board of Directors as treasurer from 2009 to 2013.

In addition to this post, Didas served simultaneously as the NACE Foundation’s treasurer. He has been treasurer of the NACE International Institute since it was established in 2012. Didas has been active within the technical committee community since the late 1990s and holds several NACE certifications – corrosion specialist, cathodic protection specialist, and coating inspector program (CIP)-certified coating inspector.

He has published many conference papers and presented oral presentations at many area conferences and short courses. He has received the NACE Distinguished Service Award (2001) and NACE R.A. Brannon Award (2014), in addition to the Appalachian Underground Corrosion Short Course General Chairman Plaque (2005) and Colonel Cox Award (2010). Didas earned his ASEE in industrial electronics technology from Springfield Technical Community College and BSET in electrical/electronic engineering technology from Thomas A. Edison State College.

Earnest Klechka is a professional engineer in the state of Texas with 50 years of experience in metallurgical engineering, design, and implementation of corrosion control, and project engineering management. He is a NACE-certified Corrosion Specialist, Cathodic Protection Specialist, Coating Specialist, and CIP Level 3 Coating Inspector. He is an expert in pipeline direct assessment, integrity management, risk management, CP design and testing, pipeline internal and external corrosion control, welding, and nondestructive inspection. Also, Klechka has extensive experience in failure investigation and root cause analysis. He has investigated failures in coatings, materials, weld cracking, turbine blade creep and oxidation, and corrosion under insulation. He is also familiar with the use of in-line inspection tools to evaluate internal and external corrosion, cracking, and dents. He has a strong background in CP for pipelines, processing plants, aboveground tanks, belowground tanks, and marine structures. Klechka is a NACE Instructor for CP1 and 2, Pipeline Corrosion Integrity Management, and Coatings in Conjunction with Cathodic Protection.

Aida Lopez-Garrity is with Mears Group, Inc. and resides in Dublin, Ohio. She has 36 years of experience in corrosion and materials engineering and the application of pipeline integrity measures to buried pipelines, compressor stations and petrochemical plants.

She has managed programs in all aspects of direct assessment, cathodic protection, corrosion monitoring, welding, protective coatings, in-line inspection, nondestructive evaluation and structure integrity including external, internal, and stress corrosion cracking (SCC) evaluations and repair strategies. During her 35 years as a member of NACE, she has served in various leadership capacities on an association Level as a member of the Annual Conference Program Committee, Specific Technology Groups (STGs) and Task Groups (TGs).

She also led the NACE technology group that developed the first ECDA procedure, and NACE Confirmatory Direct Assessment Methodology, which serves as a guide to the pipeline industry. She in the process of co-authoring two books   on ECDA and internal corrosion direct assessment. She is the winner of the 2018 NACE R.A. Brannon Award.

Joe Pikas is the vice president of Technical Toolboxes in Houston. He began his career at Williams Gas Pipeline-Transco, where he worked for more than 36 years before joining corrosion consulting companies that included MATCOR, MISTRAS/IMPro Technologies, and  HDR|Schiff Associates.

He has been a member of NACE and a NACE-certified Corrosion Specialist and Cathodic Protection Specialist for 49 years. He is past president of the NACE Houston Section and Coating Society. He has been a member of INGAA, AGA, SGA, GTI, PRCI, GITA and ASME. He has won multiple industry awards, including from NACE, and has written more than 50 technical papers. He has a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Penn State.

Jack Smart is a chemical engineer and metallurgist who has worked in corrosion in the oil and gas industry for 48 years in production, pipelines, chemical plants and refineries. He has been active in NACE working on the design and operation of pipelines, including CP, coatings and internal corrosion.

His involvement in internal corrosion includes chemical treating and monitoring, erosion-corrosion, and cleaning and inspection of pipelines using pigs. Smart is on the Editorial Advisory Board of Materials Performance and the Editorial Board of the Journal of Pipeline Engineering in the U.K. He is also a former director of the Offshore Technology Conference, and has over 50 technical publications and presentations. He has a Ph.D.

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