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NAFTA-GAZ, ROK LXXI, Nr 2 / 2015

Joanna Brzeszcz, Anna Turkiewicz

Oil and Gas Institute National Research Institute

Corrosion inhibitors application in oil industry

The efficient flow of natural gas and oil to recipients is very often disrupted due to corrosion processes. They cause
deterioration of material, leading to changes in their mechanical properties, such as durability, hardness or elasticity.
In time, the progress of these phenomena causes damage to storage tanks or transmission systems which as a result,
leads to leakage. Corrosion processes affect not only transmission and storage of fossils. The scale of the problem is
much greater. Devices and systems corrode at the stage of exploration, production (corrosion of drilling equipment)
and petroleum processing (corrosion of refinery plants). Currently, the opportunity to resolve the existing problems
regarding corrosion, both for the domestic and global oil and gas industry is emerging. It is estimated that corrosion
processes cost the American industry 280 billion dollars per year. Part of this sum is allocated to the oil and gas
industry. Since this phenomenon cannot be stopped, more and more often the extent of damage to particular mate-
rials is being monitored. This solution seems to be economically justified. The article discusses mechanisms of the
mentioned phenomenon, including also biocorrosion. Furthermore, some factors are presented which contribute to
the occurrence of this unfavorable process in the oil industry. Additionally, some methods which decrease as well
as prevent the effects of corrosion are discussed, with particular emphasis on corrosion inhibitors.
Key words: corrosion, biocorrosion, corrosion inhibitors.

Inhibitory korozji zastosowanie w przemyle naftowym

Przepyw gazu ziemnego oraz ropy naftowej do odbiorcw bardzo czsto ulega zakceniom, spowodowanym
procesami korozji. Powoduj one niszczenie materiau, polegajce na zmianie jego waciwoci mechanicznych, wytrzymaoci, twardoci czy sprystoci. Postpujca w czasie korozja przyczynia si do uszkodzenia zbior-
nikw magazynujcych czy instalacji przemysowych, a w konsekwencji do wyciekw danego surowca. Obecnie
krajowy i wiatowy przemys naftowy i gazowniczy stoi przed rozwizaniem istniejcych problemw zwizanych
z tym zjawiskiem. Poniewa nie da si zapobiec wystpowaniu korozji, coraz czciej podejmowane s dziaania
kontrolujce stopie uszkodzenia danego materiau. Procesy korozji dotycz nie tylko przesyu i magazynowania
wyej wymienionych kopalin. Skala tego zjawiska jest znacznie wiksza. Korodowaniu ulegaj urzdzenia
iinstalacje na etapie poszukiwania, eksploatacji (korozja urzdze wiertnicznych) oraz obrbki surowcw (korozja
instalacji rafineryjnych). Szacuje si, e procesy korozji kosztuj amerykaski przemys 280 miliardw dolarw
rocznie, ztego 1,4 miliarda dolarw pochania sektor naftowy i gazowniczy. W artykule zostay omwione mecha-
nizmy wyej wymienionego zjawiska, z uwzgldnieniem procesu biokorozji. Ponadto, przedstawiono czynniki,
ktre przyczyniaj si do wystpowania tego niekorzystnego procesu. Omwiono rwnie sposoby agodzenia
izapobiegania korozji, ze szczeglnym uwzgldnieniem zastosowania inhibitorw korozji.
Sowa kluczowe: korozja, biokorozja, inhibitory korozji.


Corrosion is an unbelievably demanding problem which Also, fuel material refinement is affected by corrosion.
the global and domestic industries have to solve. This issue is The corrosion processes, including biocorrosion contribute
much more complex in the oil and gas sector. These phenom- to the deterioration of the mechanical properties of drilling
ena are present at each stage, from the fossil exploitation[24], platforms and equipment, storage tanks and refinery plants.
transportation and distribution to safe storage. Long-term damage to pipelines can lead to oil spills into the


environment. Thus causing local contamination of ground the drilling stage is an excellent carrier of oxygen, a strong
and water environments culminating in significant economi- oxidant. Then, not only the borehole piping is exposed to
cal loss. corrosion, but also the drilling equipment, pipelines and tanks
It is estimated that corrosion processes cost the American used for storing the fluid. Moreover, water or carbon dioxide
industry 280 billion dollars per year. According to United pumped into the deposit creates an excellent environment for
States Cost of Corrosion Study conducted by NACE Inter- corrosion initiation.
national, US oil and gas exploration and production industry Undesirable activity of microorganisms results in the
spends 1.4 billion dollars on corrosion. In detail, 0.6 billion occurrence of biocorrosion which deteriorates the properties
dollars is attributed to surface pipeline and facilities cost, of the used material. The biogenic processes appear at the
0.5 billion dollars to downhole tubing and 0.3 billion dollars stage of extraction, transportation and storage of the fossils
to capital expenditures related to corrosion [14]. Financial mentioned. Currently, more and more significance is being
outlays in the amount of 1.372 billion dollars, which the attributed to sulfate-reducing bacteria (SRB). They contrib-
industry spends every year to fight corrosion, present the ute to the deterioration of gas quality (by generating H2S)
scale of the phenomenon. Half of this sum, concerns the oil and modification of the mechanical properties of particular
and gas industry, since corrosion is regarded as an especially materials [12].
important issue for this branch. Preventive steps and actions that hinder the occurrence
The range of this phenomenon depends mainly, on the of corrosion consist mainly of using active substances acting
type of raw materials and the environment in which it occurs. as inhibitors. There are many active substances which are
In case of oil tanks or pipelines, the scale of these processes components of corrosion inhibitors. Their presence in com-
is determined by the composition of the medium: type of oil mercial preparations is varied. At present, some chemical
(e.g. different sulfur content), the ratio of oil-water phases compounds are being withdrawn from the market as their
or water salinity. Oxygenated drilling fluid introduced at use possess a great toxicity risk.

The mechanism of corrosion and biocorrosion

Electrochemical corrosion involves all the processes that Positively charged iron ions Fe2+ on the anode pass on to the
take place when various electrochemical potentials arise on solution, while free electrons (e-) move through the steel to
metal surfaces in an electrolyte environment. The electro- the cathode, where, together with water and oxygen they
chemical potentials generate the electrochemical (corrosion) create OH- ions. These ions pass through the electrolyte and
cell, in which the surface of the metal with lower potential is react with iron ions creating the iron(II) hydroxide Fe(OH)2,
the anode on which metal oxidation takes place. Whereas the which, due to further oxidation changes into rust. Below,
metal surface with a higher potential becomes the cathode on is a diagram of oxidation-reduction reactions (figure 1),
which reduction processes take place. It can be observed as which occur on the positive and negative electrodes of the
dissolving of the anode metal and it leaves a deposit of metal corrosion cell [22].
on the cathode. In the same way, the properties of aparticu- Reactions occurring on the anode metal oxidation
lar material (metal or alloy) are changing, which results in and its loss:
corrosion pits or reduces the metals durability. Corrosion
Fe Fe2+ + 2e-
processes occur in the presence of:
electrolyte (e.g. water solutions, humidity, etc.), which Reactions occurring on the cathode
displays ionic conduction, in neutral or alkaline environment the oxygen is the elec-
metal, the surface of which is not homogeneous (the point tron acceptor:
of contact of various metals, lack of homogeneity in the
H2O + 2e- + 1/2O2 2OH-
crystalline structure of specific metals).
Steel, which apart from iron has a carbon additive (0.2%) in acid environment protons act as hydrogen acceptors:
in the form of iron carbide or graphite, is an example of
2H+ + 2e- H2
amaterial which corrodes easily. The heterogeneity of the
steel surface in the presence of electrolyte creates areas The products of electrode reactions often come into sec-
of different electrochemical potentials. Then, on the steel ondary reactions and they form insoluble compounds which
surface, electrochemical (corrosion) microcells are cre- make tight layers like rust on the surface of iron alloys or
ated, and anode (iron) and cathode (carbon) areas appear. patina on the surface of copper alloys.

68 Nafta-Gaz, nr 2/2015

Rust forms a deposit on the metal surface. This deposit the oxidation factor in corrosion caused by microorganisms
consists of three non-compact layers with different oxidation is higher than in the corrosion resulting from the effects of
states of iron in each of them. The deepest layer is mostly the the atmosphere.
greenish iron(II) hydroxide Fe(OH)2, another layer is black MIC may occur in strictly specified conditions which allow
magnetite Fe3O4, whereas the external layer consists mainly microorganisms to grow and multiply. The necessary and es-
of orange iron(III) hydroxide Fe(OH)3 [4, 11, 29]. sential condition for microbes to multiply, is water. Effective
activity of the water should remain at the level of over 0.9.
Additionally, the growth and proliferation of microorganisms
take place in the presence of electron donor, reduced electron
acceptor, energy and carbon source.
Taking into account the conditions necessary for the pro-
cess, two kinds of biocorrosion can be distinguished:
Bacteria represented by Acidithiobacillus ssp., e.g. Acidi-
thiobacillus thiooxidans have the ability to oxidize bothFe2+
and sulphur compounds (e.g. FeS2 pyrite) in an acid environ-
ment (pH below 4) with low oxygen concentration:

2H2S + 2O2 = H2S2O3 + H2O

Fig. 1. Diagram of corrosion cell [22] 5Na2S2O3 + 4O2 + H2O = 5Na2SO4 + 4S + H2SO4

4S + 6O2 + 4H2O = 4H4SO4

In cathode-anode reactions, oxygen and water are used.
Water, which is necessary for continuing the process, is re- Gallionella microaerophiles and representatives of:
generated. Therefore, corrosion on dry surfaces or in dry Sphaerotilus, Crenothix, Leptothrix and Clonothrix partici-
systems does not occur. It probably does not exist either in pate in oxidation of iron oxide and forming typical bumps
the environment of relative humidity below 60%, whereas the on the surfaces of corroded metal. The final product is the
optimal humidity required for the development of corrosion is rust-coloured iron(III) hydroxide Fe(OH)3 which results as
7080%. Furthermore, corrosion is observed in systems com- an oxidation product of iron(II) hydroxide Fe(OH)2. It leaves
pletely immersed in water which contain dissolved oxygen. a deposit in niches or joints of welded elements (gas and oil
Apart from galvanic corrosion there is also biocorrosion. pipelines).
Biocorrosion (MIC microbiologically influenced corrosion) Apart from the described bacterial genera and species
is the corrosion which arises due to the presence of micro- which cause biocorrosion, there is also Pseudomonas spp.
organisms [28, 30]. It generally covers all the processes of Itis a microorganism strongly engaged in corrosion processes
damaging the original metal structure as a result of the direct occurring in industrial water. By creating bacterial consortia
presence of microorganisms or products of their metabolic with other bacteria types, Pseudomonas spp. actively prolifer-
activity. It is estimated that biocorrosion constitutes about 10% ate on the metal surface. Furthermore, it is possible for them
of metal corrosion as a whole. Moreover, it is considered that to grow in slime because of reduced oxygen requirements

Table 1. Examples of bacteria responsible for induction of metal corrosion [2, 5, 8, 13, 20, 25]
Group of bacteria Example of microorganisms Corrosion mechanizm
Oxidants of sulphur or sulphide Acidithiobacillus thiooxidans, Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans Sulphuric acid production
Iron bacteria Gallionella Fe2+ to Fe3+ oxidation
Filamentous bacteria Sphaerotilus, Crenothrix, Leptothrix, Clonothrix, Pedomicrobium Mn2+ to Mn4+ oxidation
Manganese bacteria Metalogenicum, Leptothrix Cathodic depolarization
Hydrogen-using bacteria Clostridium, Desulfovibrio Hydrogen ionization
Hydrogen-producing bacteria Clostridium which reduces sulphates Cathodic depolarization
Thermophilic bacteria Thermodesulfobacterium thermophilum Fe3+ reduction to Fe2+ ions
Biofilm-creating bacteria Pseudomonas spp. Creating a biofilm or slime

Nafta-Gaz, nr 2/2015 69

in relation to aerophilic bacteria. Therefore, they use the (as a result of the presence of metabolism of acidic products,
remnant oxygen which is present in the system and create e.g. acetates), responsible for metal corrosion. A visible mark
an anoxic environment. It generates favorable conditions for of corrosion caused by SRB is the black deposit of iron(II)
the development of anerobic sulfate reducing bacteria (SRB). sulfide FeS on the metal surface. The removal of this deposit
Sulfate reducing bacteria mostly participate in the process reveals the anode hollows of pure iron which yields to rapid
of anaerobic bacteria induced corrosion, initiating the corro- corrosion and causes significant damage. The mechanism of
sion of steel elements of containers or technical systems. It is corrosion induced by SRB is particularly complex. Below,
estimated that nearly 77% of corrosion in American extraction are reactions which may potentially occur:
boreholes is related to SRB. Anode reaction:
It is mostly SRB that are associated with biocorrosion and 4Fe 4Fe2+ + 8e-
dissolution of metal surfaces [10, 12, 15]. They are character-
ized by their capability to transmit hydrogen to sulfate(VI), Water disintegration:
sulfate(IV) and thiosulfate as the final electron acceptors. 8H2O 8H+ + 8OH-
Inthis way these compounds are reduced to sulfides. SRB
can use hydrogen and thus they take part in the cathodic Cathodic reaction:
depolarization of the metal surface. 8H+ + 8e- 8H
Examination of the MIC processes, in which SRB took
part, enabled to determine factors in which redox processes Reactions with SRB bacteria:
occur most intensively. Namely, in the presence of iron and SO42- + 8H S2- + 4H2O
under changeable aerobic and anaerobic conditions, corrosion
of metal is accelerated. It is assumed that temporary oxygen- Fe2+ + S2- FeS
ation activates sulfate reducing bacteria and the remaining Summary reaction:
bacteria which live in an anaerobic population on the metal
4Fe + SO42- + 4H2O 3Fe(OH)2 + FeS + 2OH-
surface. In the process, a strongly acidic environment arises

Corrosion and biocorrosion in oil and gas industry

Corrosion and biocorrosion are exceptionally extended in the oil industry is extremely problematic and ambigu-
issues which cannot be ignored when discussing the problems ous. Ofcourse, various division criteria can be selected,
of damage to the materials used in the oil and gas industry e.g. interaction mechanism, the area of industry which is af-
[14, 17, 26]. The scale of the mentioned processes is huge fected most by corrosion, observed changes or the preventive
and concerns practically all oil industry branches. These measures undertaken. However, no matter what criteria are
processes occur in: adopted, they are unable to embrace the magnitude or scale
extraction of fuel sources (both natural gas and oil). There of this phenomenon. Taking into account the mechanisms of
are also secondary and tertiary methods of oil deposit corrosion, the following corrosion types should be singled
intensification, which are connected with additional acidifi- out: electrochemical, chemical and mechanical. The electro-
cation, of the deposit environment. These activities contrib- chemical type has been already described above. Whereas the
ute further to the spread of corrosion and biocorrosion [3], chemical and mechanical corrosions will be discussed shortly.
transmission and storage, Chemical corrosion occurs when metal surface corrodes
refinery processes. under the influence of strong oxidants (atmospheric oxygen,
The corrosion which occurs inside transmission systems or sulfur and hydrogen sulfide). Unlike electrochemical corro-
storage tanks depends on the temperature, CO2 content, H2S, sion, the chemical type is not accompanied by the flow of
water presence, the flow velocity of specific fluids and condi- electric current.
tion of the steel surface which the system or tank is made of. The processes of the discussed corrosion are associated
Most pipelines are made of steel with carbon additive which with the presence of the following elements in the system [32]:
makes it prone to corrosion. Currently, there is a tendency to elementary sulfur, polysulfides and hydrogen sulfide,
replace the alloy named above with materials more resistant CO2,
to corrosion. Unfortunately, this solution increases the costs O2,
of production. strong acids (e.g. Cl-, F-),
The attempt to classify the processes which take place concentrated brines.

70 Nafta-Gaz, nr 2/2015

Carbon dioxide is one of the most aggressive factors Moreover, we can distinguish:
which stimulate corrosion. It dissolves in water and creates microbiologically induced corrosion (MIC),
carbon(IV) acid H2CO3, leading to pH reduction in the envi- galvanic corrosion,
ronment. Corrosion induced by carbon dioxide is hindered by erosion corrosion,
e.g. temperature and pH changes (pH shift towards alkaline crevice corrosion.
environment). The rise in temperature makes the deposits of Worth mentioning is also galvanic corrosion. This type of
iron carbide settle on the metal surface and the protective layer corrosion occurs when two metals of different electrochemical
which ensues hindering of the corrosion process. Corrosion is potentials come into contact with each other, and they are in
stimulated by carbon dioxide and enhanced by the presence an electrolyte solution. The result is an electrochemical cell.
of oxygen and organic acids. They dissolve the passive metal This type of corrosion is most common between stainless
layer and prevent further sedimentation of iron(II) carbide. steel and carbon in anaerobic environment.
The appearance of carbonates in the environment increases In turn erosion corrosion arises on almost every type
pH, which hinders corrosion. Acetates also modify the process of metal and material. It causes mechanical removal of the
of damage done to the metal surface; the lower the acetate metals protective layer, due to fast flow of fluids. The erosion
concentration, the less effective the corrosion. of this layer accelerates corrosion. Factors determining the
Apart from CO2, oxygen also quickly reacts with metals as occurrence of this phenomenon are: the rate of fluid (medium)
a very reactive oxidant. Oxygen, dissolved in oilfield water, flow, the amount of solid particles suspended in the medium
is the basic and very often the main source of corrosion in (e.g. sand), morphology and density of particles. Most prob-
devices, borehole machines and transmission systems (oil and ably, this process is connected with corrosion caused by CO2.
gas pipelines). O2, which acts as an electron acceptor, leads to Biocorrosion also affects the oil and gas industry. Micro-
corrosion of the anode metal. Additionally, its presence in the organisms existing in a particular environment (pipeline or
environment accelerates corrosion caused by H2S and CO2. tank) have the tendency to accumulate in the form of bio-
Strong acids (HCl, HF) are very often used in stimulation film on a specific surface, creating favorable conditions for
treatments by pumping the treatment fluid into the borehole in corrosion initiation (environment acidification). At present,
order to increase the permeability of the area near the borehole. environment protection makes it essential to recognize the
In the case of calcareous rock, usually the 528%HCl solu- corrosion mechanisms and work out preventive methods.
tion is used. Therefore, ions Cl- acting as donors, are present. The hazard of harmful substance leakage into the environ-
Oxygen and low pH accelerate the attack of Cl- ions on the ment can bring disastrous effects to the natural environment
metal surface. In addition, temperature, Cl- concentration and and potential accidents for the population. This issue is par-
metal stress, influence the metal surface corrosion. Chloride ticularly vital in the case of extensive transmission systems
ions are extremely aggressive factors which destroy the pro- of oil and natural gas. That is the reason why models are
tective metal layer when interacting with it. This results in developed concerning:
depassivation and exposes the metal surface to more rapid simulation of corrosion mechanisms in hydrocarbon trans-
corrosion. Similarly as corrosion induced by oxygen, the one mission systems,
caused by chlorides affects the pipelines. conditions necessary for initiation of processes,
Elementary sulfur, which is often a deposit fluid compo- the occurrence of damage in steel,
nent, it is a very strong oxidant. It also takes part in the cor- predictions of potentially hazardous situations, on the
rosion process. However, the mechanism of corrosion caused basis of collected technical data.
by elementary sulfur remains unexplained. Acidification of the In addition, preventive measures are introduced in order
environment which contains elementary sulfur occurs in the to reduce the risk of transmission failure caused by corrosion.
presence of H2S, H2SO4, H2SO3 and H2SO2 in such systems. The parameters mentioned in literature in mathematical
According to MacDonald et al. hypothesis [16], electrochemi- models take into account the results of experimental studies
cal reactions between these substances and the iron are the and contribute to the explanation of corrosion and biocorro-
power which drives corrosion processes. The effect of these sion. They bring us closer to the issues which concern material
reactions is the appearance of appropriate iron sulfides FeSx. durability in oil and natural gas transmission systems [6].

Corrosion inhibitors

Corrosion inhibitor is a chemical agent whose task is atight protective film on the surface of the material (metal)
to hinder the process of damage to the material. It creates or facilitates the metals passivation. The inhibitors hinder

Nafta-Gaz, nr 2/2015 71

corrosion but do not remove the changes formed earlier i.e. lubricants, oils, polymers), as well as electro-chemical (anodic
rust, slime etc. In general, organic and inorganic compounds or cathodic) protection.
are used as corrosion inhibitors. Considering the mechanism
of action, inhibitors can be divided into: anodic, cathodic and Anodic inhibitors
mixed cathodic-anodic. The effectiveness of these inhibitors The inhibitors, discussed below, block the course of the
largely depends on the pH of the environment. Some of them anodic process. They are usually anions which create insoluble
demonstrate good protective properties exclusively in neutral compounds in the anodic areas with the ions of dissolved
solutions, whereas in acid electrolyte they do not affect the metal. This group includes redox substances, the so-called
range of corrosion and sometimes even promote it. There are passivators (e.g. chromates, dichromates, nitrites) and com-
also compounds which are active only in acid environment. pounds which form insoluble films (e.g. phosphates, benzo-
Most inhibitors affect specifically one metal or a group of ates acting only in the presence of oxygen). The mentioned
metals, but they do not provide protection to a greater num- anodic inhibitors are very effective, however they may show
ber of metals or alloys. The exception are chromates which unfavorable action. Inhibitors acting as oxidizers, reduce
passivate most of the metals [4, 11, 27]. themselves so their concentration in the solution diminishes.
Taking into account the mechanism of action, the follow- Too low concentration of the inhibitor accelerates the corro-
ing can be singled out: sion, therefore only a few anodic areas are protected. Thus in
inhibitors which create protective layers practice, higher inhibitor concentration is used than the one
This group comprises of organic compounds which are theoretically indispensable.
adsorbed on the surface of the corroding metal, creating in
this way a tight protective film. The extent of adsorption Cathodic inhibitors
of the compound determines the corrosion rate, reducing it Cathodic inhibitors inhibit the cathodic process through:
considerably when the metal is completely isolated from the reduction of oxygen concentration in the solution,
corrosive environment. increase in the overpotential of hydrogen liberation.
Another method of creating a protective layer is passiv- The first group comprises of cations Mg2+, Ca2+, Zn2+
ation, which is based on chemical interaction of the surface which bind the oxygen and precipitate as hydroxides, sul-
of the corroding metal with a potential inhibitor. In this way, phates or carbonates, creating a protective film in cathodic
the metal surface is covered with an insoluble protective layer areas. Hydrazine and sodium sulphate(IV) also known as
whose main components are oxides. This group of compounds cathodic inhibitors.
comprises e.g. organic phosphates and chromates. The second class of cathodic inhibitors are represented
inhibitors which neutralize the environment by bismuth (Bi3+) and arsenic (As3+) ions which increase the
These compounds, represented by amines or ammonia, overpotential of hydrogen liberation.
reduce the concentration of H+ ions in the environment. How- In comparison with anodic inhibitors, any concentration
ever, these type of inhibitors are not very popular in the oil of applied cathodic inhibitor leads to a noticeable decrease
industry. in corrosion rate, which is an undeniable asset of this type of
scavengers solution. However, much lower effectiveness and efficiency
Another method to inhibit or totally eliminate corrosion of corrosion inhibition when compared with anodic inhibitors
is the application of substances which will remove the cor- are the drawbacks of such a solution. In conclusion, to make
rosion initiators from the environment. an appropriate and rational choice, all positive and negative
Hydrazine and sodium sulfate(IV) demonstrate this type aspects of specific methods need to be considered.
of action, as they bond the molecules of oxygen and eliminate
it from the environment. At present, they are the most com- Anodic-cathodic (mixed) inhibitors
monly used inhibitors of the scavenger type. Anodic-cathodic inhibitors are substances which moder-
Na2SO3 + 1/2O2 = Na2SO4 ate both the anodic and cathodic processes simultaneously.
Organic compounds containing N or S (e.g.: amines, thiols,
2(H2NNH3) + 1/2O2 = 2NH3 + H2O + N2
organic sulphides) are considered to possess such activity.
others This class of agents adsorb in an active centre on the metal
Apart from using inhibitors, another method of protection surface, such interaction is associated with the van der Waals
from corrosion or biocorrosion is the application of metal bonds and electrostatic forces (physical adsorption). However,
coating (insulating and shielding films), inorganic (enamel, chemisorption is regarded as a key factor in the case of the
oxide, phosphate and chromate films) or organic (paints, most effective inhibitors.

72 Nafta-Gaz, nr 2/2015

In general, the success of organic inhibitors depends on the is achieved, the protection decreases. In many cases, when the
extent of the covering on the metal surface. Maximal protection inhibitor concentration is too high, the corrosion acceleration is
is usually achieved by monomolecular film. The higher the observed (above the maximum value). The cause of this relation
inhibitor concentration, the greater the protection of the metal should be sought in the arising soluble complexes of inhibitor
surface, until the maximum value is achieved. Once the value and metal or cathodic reduction of the inhibitors molecules.

The application of corrosion and biocorrosion inhibitors in industry

Substances considered as potential corrosion inhibitors, to corrosion. Distilled oil is highly aggressive because of
should be characterized by the following physical and chemi- the presence of:
cal properties: hydrogen sulfide (dissolved or as a product of pyrolysis
durability, of sulfur compounds),
inability to precipitate in the form of residue, hydrogen chloride (originating from magnesium and cal-
inability to form emulsion. cium chlorides from deposit waters),
Corrosion inhibitor, potentially applied in the oil industry, carbon dioxide dissolved in oil,
should possess sufficient solubility in hydrocarbons. oxygen dissolved in oil,
The selection of an appropriate corrosion inhibitor intended naphthenic acids,
for specific industrial applications is an extremely complex oilfield water (which occurs together with oil and creates
issue [19]. The effectiveness of a specific agent, among other electrolyte).
things, depends on: Fractional distillation plants are built mainly of carbon
the type of material which interacts with the inhibitor, steel. However, in the most corrosion vulnerable condensation-
the aggressiveness of the environment (e.g. pH of the cooling systems of atmospheric towers, copper alloys are
environment, the presence of redox substances), used. They are more corrosion resistant than carbon steel.
the place where the inhibitor is applied (refinery, gas and In most cases, the equipment used in drilling is exposed to
oil pipelines, drilling equipment, etc.). This is absolutely corrosion induced by the presence of oxygen, carbon dioxide
vital as in each environment there are various compounds and hydrogen sulfide [23]. Out of all these compounds, it is
which induce corrosion and microorganisms which induce the carbon dioxide that is the most common factor to induce
biocorrosion. There is nothing like one universal set of corrosion, while hydrogen sulphide is the most hazardous
corrosion inhibitors that can be applied both in the borehole compound which poses threat not only to human life but also
and technical installation, to the environment.
the type of transferred or stored fuel. As mentioned before, corrosion and biocorrosion are ex-
Furthermore, the factors which determine the selection of tremely important as they directly reflect specific economic
a specific application is the toxicity of the proposed agent, loss [3, 7, 9]. Research work is being conducted on new po-
harmlessness towards the environment and profitability of tential corrosion inhibitors and modification of the existing
the chosen option. ones, in order to effectively eliminate from the endangered
As already stated, there are a few anti-corrosion methods, system, the factors responsible for corrosion. The applica-
including: tion of chemical agents with desired properties is absolutely
rational selection of appropriate material (metal, alloy) necessary as they allow to avoid further damage in refinery
intended for specific application. That selection should plants or tanks [18, 19].
take into account the type of medium the metal will be Based on the chemical nature, corrosion inhibitors may
in contact with (natural gas, fuel, petroleum), the type of be placed into one of the following groups:
equipment or installation where it will be used (transmis- amines and ammonium salts,
sion installations, storage tanks, drilling equipment) and imidazoline,
other factors. quaternary ammonium salts,
reduction of aggressiveness of the environment; this heterocyclic compounds which possess a nitrogen atom.
method involves introducing a neutralizer, for example In common applications, the oil and gas industry prefers
ammonia, caustic soda, sodium carbonate or low molecular to use hydrophobic corrosion inhibitors. Taking into account
weight amines. their physical and chemical properties they are more effective
In the oil industry, during the processing of sulfurous oil, as they ensure that an additional permanent protective layer
the facilities for fractional distillation are particularly prone is created on the surface of the metal.

Nafta-Gaz, nr 2/2015 73

The corrosion inhibitors used currently are multicompo-

nent mixtures. The concentration of the active component is
between 3040%, the remaining fraction is the hydrophobic
solvent (e.g. petroleum) [31].
Sometimes corrosion inhibitors should demonstrate hy-
drophilic properties. In this case, surface active agents or
2-propyl-3-ethyl-8-oxychinolin ZnCl2
active polar compounds (e.g. quaternary ammonium salts)
are added to the mixture. Below, some chemical compounds, Generally, corrosion inhibitors in the oil industry are added
commonly applied in oil and gas industry, are presented. Their to fracturing fluids. Apart from active substances, corrosion
inhibition capabilities were also discussed. inhibitors also contain alcohols used as components preventing
Benzalkonium chloride (alkyldimethylbenzylammonium the precipitation of iron and carbonates (table 2).
chloride) is a quaternary amine which acts as a surface active These data were included in a compilation [21] of the
agent. Additionally, it is used as a corrosion inhibitor, cationic year2011. Despite certain toxicity, the chemical agents pre-
surfactant and phase separation factor in the chemical industry. vent the action of compounds, which are even more hazardous
to humans and the environment such as hydrogen sulfide,
reduce the contamination by microorganisms and prevent
where: R CnH2n+1 uncontrolled proliferation of bacteria. Moreover, these sub-
n = 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18 stances eliminate the risk of gas eruption, oil leakage, and
most importantly, they enable safe and effective extraction
benzalkonium chloride
of hydrocarbons.
An example of a commonly used corrosion
inhibitor is rhodanine (2-thioxo-4-thiazolidinone) Table 2. Example of the chemical composition of a fluid used
for hydraulic fracturing in gas exploration and extraction
and its derivatives (3 and 5 ) [34]. They are
used as corrosion inhibitors of iron to protect Type of substance Percentage by weight
petroleum refinery plants. Water 90.60
Solid phase (usually sand) 8.960
Acids 0.110
Substances which facilitate crushing 0.110
Biocides 0.001
Substances which prevent depositing
of clayey minerals
Another group of modern compounds that
may be used as corrosion inhibitors are com- Corrosion inhibitors 0.001
plexes with zinc (Zn) or cerium(Ce). The com- Substances which increase viscosity 0.010
plex of 2-propyl-3-ethyl-8-oxychinolin with Substances which reduce friction 0.050
ZnCl2 [33] was successfully used as a corro- Gelling agents 0.080
sion inhibitor on steel surfaces in an environ- Agents which prevent the precipitation of iron 0.004
ment rich in O2. This compound is obtained
Agents which prevent the precipitation of carbonates 0.040
in condensation reaction between of ZnCl2,
Surfactants and pH regulators 0.090
o-aminophenol and aldehyde in benzene presence.

Final conclusions

Corrosion as a natural problem of material deterioration can reduce the occurrence of corrosion is the application of
will be exist. Similarly as biogenic processes, corrosion agents which act as potential corrosion inhibitors. Over the
can only be limited as much as possible so as not to bring last few decades, the chemical industry has been working
great material loss or hinder extraction. The scale of this on new substances which may inhibit this process, while
phenomenon is immense and it concerns practically each the composition of commonly used inhibitors is modified
sector of the oil and gas industry. The rational solution which and improved.

74 Nafta-Gaz, nr 2/2015

This paper is based on a project entitled Corrosion inhibitors, archive number: DK-4301-1801/2012.
Please cite as: Nafta-Gaz 2015, nr 2, s. 6575
Article contributed to the Editor 22.07.2014 r. Approved for publication 28.10.2014 r.

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Mgr Joanna Brzeszcz Dr Anna TURKIEWICZ

Asystent w Zakadzie Mikrobiologii. Adiunkt w Zakadzie Mikrobiologii.
Instytut Nafty i Gazu Pastwowy Instytut Badawczy Instytut Nafty i Gazu Pastwowy Instytut Badawczy
ul. Lubicz 25A ul. Lubicz 25A
31-503 Krakw 31-503 Krakw
E-mail: E-mail:

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