The Cost of Corrosion

The Cost of Corrosion

How to make the most of your maintenance budget


Asset maintenance is a line in every operational budget, the necessary evil as facilities age. The allowance given to that budget will be determined by strategy; planned or reactive, preventative or predictive, performance; expected life vs usage, monitoring; how the asset will be checked – visual vs technology. (Each component is assigned a value)

The maintenance budget will develop year on year, especially in the case of new equipment as data is gathered and refined. Ideally equipment will be ranked so focus is given to the most important parts to the business.

Planning and scheduling is most cost effective since various sources suggest it is generally 3 to 5 times more expensive to carry out unplanned maintenance. If it is an emergency following a failure this can reach as much as 10 times more expensive.

A properly executed maintenance plan will review work carried out looking at asset reliability and subsequent problems; loss of production, unplanned work, variances from plan.

Maintenance managers are frequently under pressure to reduce spend (and in extreme situations this might result in reduced spending on preventative maintenance).

Identifying new technologies that provide a long term solution, eliminate the need for shutdown and are quick to apply make for a welcome change.


Corrosion costs.

The cost of corrosion costs about $276 billion annually according to the SSPC. It is a known factor in plant efficiency but its extent can be hard to predict or believe.

Corrosion occurs when metal comes into contact with oxygen and water in the environment, however this reaction can be accelerated by many other factors. Onshore environments are subject to UV rays, harsh climate conditions, potential chemical splash and fumes degrading the structures along with the potential for high humidity and abrasion from sand/dust or soil.

Offshore, corrosion is accelerated by salt water, wind, rain and wave slam combined with a build-up of chlorides which create the perfect electro-chemical environment.

The constant wet and dry can accelerate the effect on metal degradation; combine this with damage caused by impact or abrasion and the result is extensive maintenance costs affecting both operational and capital expenditure.


A Covid19 World

No one could have imagined our current 2020, a pandemic sweeping the globe and talks of recessions, budgets are being hit harder than ever. Oil prices have dropped, projects have been put on hold, there are struggles with supply chains, workforce constraints with social distancing measures, turnaround projects pushed back with just a focus on the critical work required and regional lockdowns that halt almost everything locally.

The impact on maintenance and asset integrity is profound, Maintenance Managers now face a whole new set of challenges to balance, on an already sensitive set of scales.

Companies are scaling back turnarounds to allow for the most critical work to proceed, these will be the higher-ranking parts of equipment where failure has the potential to halt production. The rest will be postponed to a later time.  However weighing later, with when, is critical so that new failures are not realised.



This excerpt is from a feature in World Pipelines (Nov 2020) by Ed Hall, President of Oxifree.

You can read the rest of the article here.