Corrosion under insulation (CUI) is the root cause of many of the global petrochemical industry’s most serious problems including forced shutdowns, lost production, early repair and replacement, as well as safety and environmental consequences that can cost millions of dollars per incident.
CUI, which involves the corrosion of vessels or piping beneath insulation due to water penetration, is insidious because it can remain undetected until the insulation is removed for inspection or leaks occur. Water penetration can result from many causes including monsoons, rain, flooding, wash downs, and sprinkler systems, as well as exposure to steam, humidity or frequent condensation and evaporation of atmospheric moisture.
From upstream wells, risers, drilling rigs, or offshore platforms, to midstream pipelines, storage, and liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals, to downstream refineries, fighting CUI and major corrosion has been an uphill battle and a major cost in the operation of oil and gas facilities, according to NACE International’s IMPACT (International Measures of Prevention, Application and Economics of Corrosion Technology) study. (For an introduction to corrosion in the oil and gas industry, read Corrosion Identification and Control in Crude Oil Refineries.)