With the continuous growth in oil production, the Ecuadorian economy is expanding its development in the medium and long-term exploitation of new and tested reserves. This new operation will occur in regions with the world’s most biodiverse and Waorani communities, which remain in limited contact with the rest of the Ecuadorian population, and with the subgroups identified as Tagaeri and Taromenane, which are kept in complete isolation. The region’s oil production has been in a unique symbiosis between industrial activity, the environment, and the native population. In this delicate environment, the implementation of more stringent standards in the industry becomes a commitment. Maintaining the integrity of the pipeline through cathodic protection (CP) becomes a crucial line of defense to ensure continuous and reliable operation in a high-consequence area due to ecology and business.

This paper reports the diagnosis and solution approach for the reengineering of cathodic protection systems for pipelines, as well as a first experience in the application of numerical modeling of a complete oil field where high conductivity soil causes current to reach distant structures. Also, the discharge of CP to the water inside the pipelines is reported as a major problem since only a limited percentage of the total current is utilized to polarize the pipeline. As the defect increases, water production and its presence as a secondary phase within the pipeline exceeds ninety percent from oil; electrical insulation systems stop working when a discharge of current through the electrolyte and across the isolation joint. This paper describes the design of a CP system for internal protection of the pipelines at the discharge points.

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