Utility cuts operating costs dramatically through work with Argonne
Southern California Gas Company
Los Angeles, CA
Thanks to the early results of a cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA) with Argonne, the Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas) has experienced a dramatic reduction in the number of pipeline and recovery-well failures due to corrosion and is realizing a significant savings in operating costs at its Montebello storage site near Los Angeles. SoCalGas and Argonne are examining new methods for detecting and treating corrosion from bacterial communities — a form of corrosion that often creates leaks in recovery wells and pipes carrying natural gas, water, and chemicals.
U.S. companies spend more than $200 million annually on water treatment chemicals to combat such microbiologically influenced corrosion (MIC). In systems where water collects, bacteria can act as environmental catalysts that initiate or stimulate corrosion. Biofilms containing several kinds of bacteria can form deposits on metal surfaces, build layers of slime, and produce organic acids that cause localized pitting and accelerate corrosion. Although improved treatment methods for controlling corrosion have been developed in the past decade, alternative methods could cost less and would be more environmentally benign than the biocide treatments now used by industry. SoCalGas and Argonne have begun to reexamine classes of chemicals that appear to prevent bacterial attachment but that are less toxic to bacteria and other organisms.
The estimated cost of MIC to industry may be as high as $2 billion a year. As a result of this CRADA work, several other companies have indicated an interest in joining a consortium being formed by SoCalGas in coordination with the CRADA. Consortium goals include testing MIC on-line detection methods under field conditions, expanding the use of less toxic chemical and nonchemical MIC control methods, and developing MIC-resistant metallurgies.
The CRADA is supported by DOE's Office of Energy Research, Laboratory Technology Transfer Program.
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