March 2019, Vol. 246, No. 3


NACE International Roundtable: Corrosion Management for Pipeline Integrity

For the last several years, NACE International and the NACE International Institute have been committed to researching and supporting best corrosion management practices to ensure safer, long-lasting protection of assets such as pipelines, increase return on investment (ROI), decrease life cycle costs and preserve the environment.

To explain the value of corrosion management systems (CMS), how they work, and what programs and platforms are available to help organizations improve corrosion control programs, three experts in oil and gas pipeline corrosion management share their knowledge and experience with CMS. They are Michael Ames, Chapman Engineering; Gerry Koch, DNV GL; and David Kroon, Aegion Corporation.

NACE: At what point in your career did you begin your involvement with corrosion management processes?

David Kroon: It is fair to say that I have been involved in corrosion management my entire career, which, at this point, is a long time. Prior to the Natural Gas Pipeline Safety Act of 1968, all decisions related to corosion and prevention were driven by managing safety, environmental protection and economics.

As a field engineer, I would test the soil, groundwater, and other environmental conditions to determine the requirements for achieving the design life of the asset to be built. Construction materials, protective coatings, cathodic protection (CP), and alternating or direct current interference mitigation recommendations would subsequently be developed, and facilities designed. It was common for the designated design life for the asset to be 20 years, with little effort or thought given to the real need or expectation.

Today, the design life for new construction is most often 50 or even 100 years. With this expectation, it is now imperative that we manage corrosion to meet the ROI that formed the basis for funding the project.

Gerry Koch: I started thinking about corrosion management seriously during my work on the “U.S. Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Cost of Corrosion Study” that was released 17 years ago in 2002. While the major conclusion of the study was that the total annual direct cost of corrosion was around $276 billion – equivalent to 3.1% of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) – the study also concluded that indirect costs could be as high as 10 times the direct costs.

A case was made to corporate management and other major stakeholders that the cost of corrosion cannot be lowered by technical means only and theat commitment from the top of an organization is required to accomplish the goal of lowering both direct and indirect costs of corrosion. With NACE taking forward the conclusions of this report, a number of organizations, most notably the U.S. Department of Defense, as well as international and national oil companies, took on the task of developing a corrosion management program.

While over the past 10 years or so, understanding of corrosion mechanisms and corrosion technology have improved significantly, the global cost of corrosion has remained essentially the same in terms of the respective countries’ GDPs. Hence, NACE took on a program to assess global corrosion management practices and to develop a framework for corrosion management, which resulted in the “International Measures of Prevention, Application, and Economics of Corrosion Technologies (IMPACT) Study.” I was fortunate to be involved in this program and assist NACE in developing the framework for a corrosion management assessment tool. This tool, IMPACT PLUS, allows organizations to assess where they are and where they want to go following a roadmap developed during the assessment. 

Michael Ames: My involvement began in 1983 when I became the backup for my pipeline company’s corrosion specialist. Soon he retired, and I began fulltime work as a corrosion specialist in 1984. At that time my certifications in corrosion were nonexistent, but I had been analyzing gas and liquid pipeline samples for corrosive properties in our company laboratory for the previous several years. CP seemed initially to be a “voodoo” science as there was nothing about it in my electrical engineering classes; however, with my chemical and electrical background, the electrochemistry at the crux of corrosion control became a natural to me.

I then began my participation in the company procedures involving corrosion control, and this continued to the current day where I am still reviewing policy and procedures of CMS documents for numerous companies. These reviews still point to the iconoclastic position these procedures occupy in many companies, with great parts of the company personnel and departments unaware of any involvement in corrosion control of their primary assets.

These situations are covered by the new NACE IMPACT PLUS role of “Navigator.” To help enhance my abilities, I participated in the Navigator training in the IMPACT PLUS Corrosion Management Maturity Model (CMMM). The extensive integration of corrosion involvement of all facets of an enterprise is well developed, and the tools provided are very beneficial in helping a company connect all areas of the enterprise to their involvement of corrosion control.

NACE: What is the value of employing a CMS, specifically in the oil and gas pipeline industry?

Koch: The greatest benefit, in my opinion, is that with a properly implemented corrosion management program, corrosion decisions and practices can be integrated within an organizational management system. The organization must commit to the ownership of the CMS and its processes, which means that buy-in at all levels of the organization must exist (i.e., buy-in at both the top and bottom of the organization).

Once everyone is on board and corrosion has become a culture within the organization, corrosion control and management can be treated as an investment rather than merely an expense, and proper appropriation of funding can be made. This allows the optimization of corrosion management maintaining the integrity of assets while achieving a high ROI.

Kroon: The greatest value is to reap the full financial benefit of compliance with corrosion control and asset integrity regulations while operating in a safe and environmentally responsible manner.

The IMPACT Study was published by NACE International in 2016. The global cost of corrosion was researched and estimated to be $2.5 trillion, or 3.4% of the GDP by country. Most important was that it was demonstrated that 15% to 35% of the cost of corrosion could be saved using currently available corrosion control technologies and practices. Unlike some of the earlier cost of corrosion studies, this work included an evaluation of industry best practices for managing corrosion to reduce operating costs and enhance safety and environmental protection.

For the oil and gas pipeline industry, the application of sound corrosion management principles can significantly reduce costs. One of the key areas to address are performance indicators to measure the financial impact of corrosion management. Operational data analysis and corrosion management over the life of the asset are essential.

Ames: In my experience, most pipeline companies have well-developed corrosion procedures that enable their work staff in the field to control corrosion. For the most part these procedures are intended to not only protect their assets, but also to meet or exceed regulations concerning pipeline safety both for gas or liquid pipelines. However, for many there is little or no extension of these procedural links to other departments of the company.

There are missing opportunities to involve every part of the company to understand their impact to pipeline safety and corrosion management. This is a part of a “silo” mentality in that other parts of the company do not know how they may impact corrosion management, as it has never been discussed or explained.

Even essential links such as the engineering/construction groups may not have direct connection with operations and technical management in the important aspects of each group’s involvement in the life cycle implications of corrosion management of the assets they all touch. The IMPACT PLUS CMMM program clearly shows those links and provides tools to connect them together into the important wholistic approach to a mature corrosion management model.

NACE: What tools do you find of value when implementing a CMS throughout an organization?

Kroon: Support of the CMS throughout the organization from executive management to field operations is most important. We need to invest in advancing corrosion control technology and systems, but we also need to incorporate these practices in a CMS to maximize the business benefits. This can be accomplished by employing a CMS that is understood and supported by every level of an organization involved in protecting assets. A CMS consists of the following:

  • Procedures and working practices
  • Plans based upon desired asset life and available mitigation measures
  • Enablers, controls, and performance metrics
  • Objectives, strategies, and policy

The relationship of these elements is illustrated by the CMS Pyramid (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Corrosion Management System Pyramid. Figure courtesy of NACE International

I really like this figure since it does such a good job of summarizing everything needed to successfully implement a CMS throughout an organization. Our engineering groups are very good at addressing the bottom two layers of the pyramid focused on procedures and practices, and even planning for regulatory compliance, process improvements, and capital projects.

As we move toward the top of the pyramid, the need for management to be fully engaged is essential for putting in place enablers, controls, and performance measures. Executive management needs to drive the development of CMS objectives, strategy, and policy, and also needs to regularly communicate the importance of the CMS to the organization.

Koch: As stated previously, a culture focused on corrosion management, much like process safety management, must exist within the organization, such that corrosion management is part of the organization’s overall management system. For this to happen there must be buy-in across the organization. First the corrosion professional should broaden his competence with respect to business tools, to include financial decision making, and risk assessment, which is based on expected activity for evaluating corrosion control expenditures. Whenever possible, life cycle costing (LCC) should be considered. Financial tools exist that are described in the NACE IMPACT Study include LLC, Constraint Optimization and Maintenance Optimization.

NACE Task Group (TG) 564 has developed a standard practice, “Standard Framework for Establishing Corrosion Management Systems,” soon to be published, which is based on a proposed framework developed in the IMPACT Study and ISO-55000 management standards. This standard practice is providing guidelines to organizations wishing to develop a CMS.

Ames: Some very good guidance information is available from pipeline regulatory groups, such as PHMSA and B31; other great information and guidance are available within the NACE IMPACT PLUS system. There are several companies set up to “Navigate” an operating company through their existing CMS to enhance it and integrate it within all parts of the company.

NACE: What training is typically needed?

KroonMuch of the needed training can be obtained through NACE. Participation in the NACE TG 564 is a good place to start. The IMPACT PLUS portal is another great resource that is accessible online. It is designed to provide a CMS framework that incorporates both technical and business considerations, including process classification frameworks, maturity models and benchmarking. Specific tools for developing a comprehensive CMS are provided, such as a customized Corrosion Management Process Classification Framework (CMMM) and an extensive reference library. The value of IMPACT PLUS for corrosion and management professionals includes:

  • An integrated platform for corrosion management professionals seeking to move their organizations to a higher level of performance
  • A common language and structure needed to ensure communication throughout all levels of an organization
  • A straightforward way for companies to identify gaps in processes that could lead to reduced asset life
  • A model that creates a roadmap of activities, investments, and best practices

NACE International also offers a host of technical training courses and certification programs, including CP, protective coatings, pipeline integrity and marine corrosion control.

Koch: With the support of the new NACE standard practice, organizations can start to develop their CMS strategies. The NACE IMPACT PLUS CMS tool can assess where an organization stands with respect to corrosion management and through “Aspiration” workshops to develop a roadmap where the organization needs to go to meet CMS requirements that fit the specific organization.

Ames: Training to use CMS programs is usually self-taught or from a company’s internal training program. These programs are enhanced by attending industry pipeline safety and corrosion control seminars around the world. Specific to enhancing their use and maturity, the IMPACT PLUS Navigator training program would be the best in my experience to recommend.

NACE: In your experience, how extensively are CMS programs being used in the corrosion industry today? How can their use be more prevalent?

Kroon: CMS means different things to different people and organizations. In its simplest form for the regulated pipeline industry, it means nothing more than a program to ensure continuing compliance with PHMSA and EPA corrosion control regulations. This is a short-sighted approach since it robs the organization of all the other benefits. I maintain that a good regulation is good for industry, but we need to work at reaping the benefits.

Corrosion engineers regularly speak to management in the terminology of their science and technology. They need to adopt the language of their management and regularly expand the conversation to include discussions of safety, ROI, and LCC. Corrosion threats should be mitigated to a point where the expenditure of resources is measured against the benefits gained. To determine whether a corrosion management investment is appropriate, it can be compared to the potential corrosion consequence through an ROI analysis, which often includes inspection and other maintenance costs.

Ames: My experience has been involved with the coverage and separation between CMS and pipeline integrity groups that tend to be somewhat at arms-length, when really, they do overlap and can enhance each other more than some have at this time. The significance of this relationship is that one group has more enhanced corrosion management practice than the other. To fully integrate these practices in appropriate situations is needing more attention, in my opinion.

CMS should be understood and observed in all areas of a company, as they all have their contribution to make to enhance pipeline corrosion management. Consider the impact of budgeting, construction practices, and operation processes – they all impact the ability of a company to manage corrosion, but in many setups, they do not know their involvement or impact. The use of a CMS must be enhanced by having each group understand their part to play and would usually require meetings to discuss how they interlock with the CMS.

Koch: The concept of corrosion management may often mean different things to different people and organizations. While over the past few years the understanding of what corrosion management is has increased, there is still a long way to go, since a considerable number of people and organizations regard the concept of corrosion management to be similar to or the same as corrosion engineering. For example, in the pipeline industry corrosion management often means simply meeting regulatory requirements by carrying out CP and internal corrosion monitoring programs.

These programs are considered a cost to the bottom line and corrosion professionals have to constantly justify these costs, while no consideration is given to cost benefits and ROI. These organizations can broaden their view of corrosion management by considering the economic impact of implementing corrosion engineering versus not implementing. By developing a culture of corrosion management through buy-in throughout the organization, the full benefit of corrosion management can be achieved.

The corrosion management concept as envisioned by NACE and the co-contributors to this article is embraced by some oil and gas companies, which have started to create a corporate culture with buy-in from all levels of management, where corrosion is being part of the companies’ overall management system.

NACE: Please share any additional comments you may have.

Ames: Pipeline CMS are the first and best line of protection from corrosion of a pipeline asset. As these programs mature across companies, and the world, there should be a better assurance that a pipeline’s neighbor should never have to worry about pipeline safety.

Koch: The acceptance of the CMS concept may be likened to the acceptance of today’s safety management culture. A few decades ago, safety management merely dealt with occupational safety, which considers relatively high occurrences of slips, trips, and falls, whereas process safety (low likelihood of occurrence and high consequence) received little attention.

After a few major process safety-related accidents, a culture developed throughout the oil and gas and refining and petrochemical industries, where safety has become an integral part of the organizations’ management systems. All levels of the organizations now speak the same safety language and have the same goal to improve both occupational and process safety. It is my hope that corrosion will go through the same transition and become part of organizations’ corporate cultures.

Kroon: We have come a long way. It’s not too long ago when corrosion was viewed as inevitable – pipelines needed to be replaced because they wore out. It is now recognized by the oil and gas pipeline industry that corrosion management saves money and reduces risk. It’s just good business and the right thing to do.



About the PanelMichael Ames has worked in pipeline corrosion control and operations for over 40 years, creating internal and external corrosion management programs for multiple operators over that time.  He served with Northern Natural Gas for more than 34 years, and other major natural gas production, transmission, and distribution companies. He is currently vice president of Chapman Engineering in Boerne, Texas. He has bachelor’s degrees in electrical engineering and business administration from Trinity University and Upper Iowa University, respectively. He currently serves as treasurer of NACE International



Gerry Koch is senior principal engineer in the Pipeline Department at DNV GL (USA) in Columbus, Ohio. He holds a master’s degree in aeronautical engineering from the Delft Technical University and a Ph.D. in Metallurgical Engineering from the University of Illinois. His work focuses on corrosion and asset integrity management.  He was awarded the 2007 NACE Presidential Award for his work on the 2002 Cost of Corrosion Study and is a NACE Fellow. Koch was the principal author of the 2002 U.S. Cost of Corrosion Study and was the project manager of the NACE IMPACT Study. He is a NACE-qualified IMPACT PLUS Navigator.



David H. Kroon, P.E., is chief technical officer for Aegion Corporation in Houston. He graduated from Yale University with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and is a registered professional engineer with over 47 years of experience in corrosion prevention and asset integrity management in the oil and gas industry. He received the NACE International 2016 R.A. Brannon Award for Outstanding Contributions to NACE and served on the Technical Advisory Group for the IMPACT Study.

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