Researchers at Battelle’s Florida Materials Research Facility are testing a novel approach to reducing the impact of Microbial Induced Corrosion (MIC) on offshore mooring chains. An antimicrobial wrap developed by Battelle scientists is under investigation as a possible solution to a widespread industry problem.
Early failures of mooring chains due to corrosion are a growing problem for offshore oil & gas operations, costing the industry tens of millions of dollars each year. A single mooring system failure can cost operators $10-$40 million to repair or replace. A string of early failures, with mooring chains losing significant diameter in 5-7 years instead of the expected 20+ years the chains were designed for, has the industry scrambling for answers. One theory is that reduced oxygen levels in some areas of the ocean, particularly in tropical or subtropical regions, have encouraged the growth of anaerobic corrosion-causing bacteria which may be causing the chains to fail more rapidly than anticipated. If this is the case, antimicrobial wraps may offer protection from the bacteria and slow down the corrosion process.
Scientists at FMRF have set up testing environments for mooring chains to simulate conditions in the Gulf of Mexico and African offshore environments. The outdoor subtropical corrosion facility at Daytona Beach is rated one of the most corrosive environments in the United States, and has been equipped for a variety of controlled exposure, submergence and fouling studies. Researchers are monitoring corrosion development in mooring chains below the surface, at the tidal zone, and in the splash zone in this controlled environment. By comparing chains with and without an antimicrobial wrap, researchers will be able to evaluate the efficacy of the wrap for slowing corrosion.
Battelle has a long history of corrosion work for the oil and gas industry, including work in advanced materials, corrosion detection, and mitigation. The innovative antimicrobial polymer being tested by Battelle materials scientists could be used for new mooring chains or retrofitted onto existing installations. If the tests are successful, Battelle will seek partners to manufacture and commercialize the wraps.