Corrosion Inhibitors and their Selection (With PDF)

Which is a corrosion inhibitor?

Corrosion inhibitors are chemical compounds that are added in very low concentrations to the flowing fluids (additives to the fluids) for significantly reducing the material corrosion rate. These corrosion inhibitors form a passive layer on the metal surface so the metal does not directly come in contact with the corrosive fluid. Depending on fluid composition, the quantity of water, and the fluid flow regime, the effectiveness of a corrosion inhibitor varies. To reduce the risk of corrosion in metals, corrosion inhibitors are widely used in the industry. Inhibitors are organic or inorganic compounds and usually dissolved in aqueous environments. They are available in spray form in combination with a lubricant and sometimes a penetrating oil. However, they can be solids, liquids, or gases. Concentrations of corrosion inhibitors in the corrosive fluid varies from 1 to 15,000 ppm (0.0001 to 1.5 wt %).

In oil and gas exploration and production, chemical & petrochemical industries, petroleum refineries, water treatment industries, heavy manufacturing, and product additive industries, corrosion inhibitors are considered as the first line of defense. Corrosion Inhibitors do not react with the fluid and can be applied in-situ without causing any significant disruption to the process. To decrease the corrosion rate, Corrosion inhibitors affect any one of the four components of a corrosion cell (anode, cathode, electrolyte, and electronic conductor). The main mechanism on which most of the corrosion inhibitors work is adsorption.

Types Of Corrosion Inhibitors

Corrosion inhibitors can be classified based on the working mechanism, environment, and operating mode.

A. Depending on the mechanism or electrode process, corrosion inhibitors are classified as follows:

  • Anodic Inhibitor
  • Cathodic Inhibitors, and
  • Mixed Inhibitors.

B. Based on environment, corrosion inhibitors are of the following types:

  • Acidic environment inhibitors
  • Inorganic inhibitors (Example: As2O3, Sb2O3)
  • Organic inhibitors (Example: amines, aldehydes, alkaloids, nitro, and nitroso compounds)
  • Alkaline inhibitors (Examples: thiourea, substituted phenols, naphthol, β-diketone, etc.)
  • Neutral inhibitors

C. Depending on the protection mode, the following types of corrosion inhibitors are found:

  • Chemical passivators (Nitrites, Chromates, Zinc molybdate, etc)
  • Adsorption inhibitors (quinolines, sulfur atoms in thio compounds, nitrogen atoms in amines, and oxygen atoms in aldehydes)
  • Film-forming inhibitors (Zinc and calcium salts, Benzoate, etc)
  • Vapor phase corrosion inhibitors (Dicyclohexylamine chromate, benzotriazole, Phenyl thiourea, cyclohexylamine, dicyclohexylamine nitrite, etc.)
  • Volatile corrosion inhibitors (Molybdenum oxide, salts of dicyclohexylamine, cyclohexylamine, and hexamethylene amine)
  • Synergistic inhibitors (chromate-phosphates, polyphosphate-silicate, zinc-tannins, and zinc-phosphates)
  • Precipitation inhibitors (Sodium silicate)
  • Green corrosion inhibitors (Amino acids, alkaloids, pigments, and tannins)

In the following paragraphs, we will explore the Corrosion Inhibitor Selection for Oil & Gas Industry.

Sources of Corrosion for Oil & Gas Industries

Normally corrosion occurs in the water phase. The major sources of corrosion in the oil and gas industries are:

  • Hydrogen sulfide: sulfide stress corrosion cracking (SSCC
  • Chloride: chloride stress corrosion cracking (CSCC)
  • Carbon dioxide: Sweet corrosion.
  • Oxygen: pits
  • Bacteria: Microbiologically-influenced corrosion (MIC)
  • Water Cut
  • Strong Acids: hydrofluoric acid and hydrochloric or acetic acids for sandstone and carbonates, respectively, which can cause corrosion of production tubing, downhole tools, and casing
  • Brines: In presence of dissolved oxygen, acts as corrosive.

Corrosion Inhibitor Selection Consideration

  • Use of Corrosion Inhibitors (CI) as an alternative to CRA shall be decided in the earliest design stage based on ILSS, fluid corrosivity, total CAPEX & OPEX, and assumed efficiency & availability.
  • ILSS based on BP, Intertek, and DNV research, values below 2.5 indicate CI likely successful with below 50 ppm and value above 5.5 usually not feasible, CI likely require very high dosage and high-reliability injection package.
  • Organic film-forming corrosion inhibitors’ efficiency is reduced in the presence of bacteria, oxygen, and scales. Hence, Compatibility with other chemical treatment and injection strategies shall be studied.
  • Continuous, batch or squeeze treatments are predicted to contain high concentrations of water. Batch treatment tends to be used in non-severe applications when continuous treatment is technically difficult or when additional protection required for severe conditions.
  • The chemical fluid analysis shall consist of temperature, pressure, flow rate, sand, CO2, H2S, Chloride, O2, pH, cation & anion, organic acids, bacteria, and viscosity.
  • Failure risk and environmental policy & disposal must be addressed.
  • Possible impact on downstream processes shall be studied.
  • Corrosion inhibitor shall not be used as a primary option to mitigate cracking.
  • High water cuts, velocity, and temperature, presence of solids, and pre-existing corrosion have a negative impact on the effectiveness of corrosion inhibitors and require higher concentration.
  • To comply with the environmental standard, rigorous test qualification, high-temperature stability, and long-term degradation, the use of green corrosion inhibitors from organic matters are increasing.

Probable issues with Corrosion Inhibitor Consideration

Corrosion Inhibitor is used in the oil & gas industry by continuous treatment via annulus or small tubing, batch treatment, tubing displacement, and squeeze treatment by adsorbing. In gas lift wells CI is introduced with the gas.

  • Possible issues for continuous treatment via annulus: flashing & gunking, slugging, valves plugging, CI degradation, etc.
  • Possible issues for continuous treatment via tubing: damage risk to injection line during installation, additional cost for accessories & wellhead modification, etc.
  • Possible issues for batch treatment: Corrosion can occur between treatments, wells are taken off production for several hours, many wasted chemicals on restarting the well, stable emulsions may form.
  • Possible issues for squeeze treatment: expensive, may damage formation, wasted chemical, etc.
  • Special corrosion inhibitor type and injection methods are required for acidizing or fracturing treatments.

The following images provides more guidelines about the corrosion inhibitors in the oil & gas industry.

Properties of Corrosion Inhibitors
Corrosion inhibitors

Thanks to Mr. Andry Soetiawan (Material & Corrosion Engineer) for preparing part of the article.

The following articles will serve more insights regarding corrosion:

Forms of Corrosion: Corrosion Types
Overview of Corrosion Under Insulation (CUI)
Guide for Coating Selection for External Bolting to Reduce Corrosion
Corrosion Monitoring Techniques & Surveys: A short Presentation
Corrosion Protection for Offshore Pipelines

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Anup Kumar Dey

I am a Mechanical Engineer turned into a Piping Engineer. Currently, I work in a reputed MNC as a Senior Piping Stress Engineer. I am very much passionate about blogging and always tried to do unique things. This website is my first venture into the world of blogging with the aim of connecting with other piping engineers around the world.

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