The cost of cleaning up the oil spill that fouled beaches last month on the California coast has reached $62 million so far, the pipeline company, Texas-based Plains All American Pipeline, said this month. Costs are running at $3 million a day, and there is no firm timetable for cleanup completion, according to the company. The company is responsible for paying all cleanup costs after a pipeline break near Santa Barbara forced the closure of two state beaches and prompted a fishing ban in the area.
So far, about 76 percent of 97 miles of sandy coastline have been cleared of oil. In a labor-intensive process, crews are using putty knives and other tools to scrape oil off rocks and rocky beaches. Wildlife experts have recovered nearly 300 dead birds and marine mammals, mostly sea lions. Another 106 animals were found coated in oil and are undergoing rehabilitation.
The May 19 spill occurred after an onshore pipeline operated by Plains All American ruptured, leaking up to 101,000 gallons of crude. About 21,000 gallons entered a storm drain and washed out to the Pacific Ocean off Santa Barbara County. Documents released by federal regulators after the spill said testing conducted in May found extensive external corrosion along some sections of the pipeline. This corrosion is still under investigation by the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.*
While metal can corrode, potential failure in pipeline integrity must be identified and mitigated before a catastrophe can occur. It is clear that such disasters can damage the environment, cause loss of wildlife, possibly injure field operators and cleanup crews, harm communities, livelihoods and tourist spending, and cause costly downtime and waste in pipeline productivity – in addition to astronomical cleanup costs.
The good news is that corrosion can be easy to monitor. A weighed sample – called a coupon – made of the same pipeline metal or alloy, is introduced into the pipeline and later removed after a set time interval. The coupon then is cleaned of all corrosion residue and reweighed. The weight loss is converted to a corrosion rate (CR) or metal loss (ML) rate. This method simply requires an appropriately shaped coupon, a coupon holder, and a reliable means of removing the corrosion residue without disrupting the metal substrate. Coupons are an effective and inexpensive monitoring method for gauging the internal corrosion rate of pipelines, processing equipment and storage vessels. This process can help identify where, what kind, at what rate and why corrosion is occurring within a pipeline so it can be mitigated.
Insertable and retractable corrosion coupon holders allow systems to be monitored while under normal operating conditions. The coupon can be removed safely without venting or draining of the process product, so there is no system downtime. These types of tools allow pipeline owners and operators to carry out best practices for corrosion monitoring and ensure systems continue to operate at optimal capacity.
For flexibility, corrosion coupon holders should be designed to accommodate flat (strip), rod (cylinder), disk and/or flush style coupons. Plus, the best pipeline integrity systems allow a sample probe, quill or drip pot assembly to be incorporated so samples of the process product can be collected at the same point where the coupon is staged. A quill can capture representative samples of process fluid for analysis.
The Sentry® Pipeline Integrity Products line recently has introduced a combination corrosion coupon holder and sample quill designed for the dual purposes of measuring corrosion and taking samples within pipelines. The combination coupon holder/quill currently is being used by a large gas company customer with several thousand miles of pipelines extending from natural gas supply basins throughout the southern United States, and a large gas storage facility. The customer required corrosion coupon holders for disc type coupons, as well as an extra-long product shaft to ensure the best placement for the coupon and quill. Unlike others on the market, Sentry Pipeline Integrity Products offer smartly engineered longer product insertion lengths of 2 to 20 feet for the most effective placement of corrosion coupon holders, injection & sample quills, or chemical atomizers in pipelines or processes.
Sentry Pipeline Integrity Products help pipeline owners and operators determine when equipment needs to be maintained or replaced, prevent catastrophic leaks and system failures and the corresponding injuries or loss of life, extend equipment and asset life, and save customers significant money. We offer custom engineering and one-day shipping as well to meet customer needs.
Learn more about Sentry Pipeline Integrity Products here.
This article was originally published on our website.
* News as reported by Associated Press.