The material selection community can find the most demanding challenges for coating systems in the corrosive environments created by processes and equipment used in upstream oil and gas extraction. Elevated temperatures, high pressures, and harsh chemicals consistently wreak havoc on coating systems used in these environments. Specifically, few services rival the aggressive exposures created by fire tube heaters in process vessels. When seeking to solve the problem of coatings failures in these conditions, understanding the unique performance characteristics of novel technologies is a critical factor in the success of a coating system. Atypical performance criteria that show a solid correlation to field performance include dry and wet glass transition temperature (dry/wet Tg), critical pigment volume concentration (CPVC), heat distortion temperature (HDT), and free volume. When backtested in a laboratory using aggressive autoclave testing, these metrics, while infrequently considered, can indicate a robust performing coating system in the developmental phase of new coating technology. The investigation of a new Multi-Functional Epoxy Terminated Resin (METR) analyzing these uncommonly tested properties led to developing a new coating prototype tailored to withstand the harsh conditions of heater treater fire tubes. The results of two successful field trials of the prototype using the novel resin platform on fire tubes further validate the correlation of a robust performing coating system and the atypical performance criteria considered in the study.
One can find some of the most aggressive and corrosive environments for coatings in the process work and equipment functions for Oil and Gas Upstream facilities. These conditions have typically been handled using traditional coating options such as vinyl esters, epoxies, or baked phenolic linings. While these products are often tailored to environments with elevated temperatures and pressures found within upstream and "downhole" oil and gas production, the inception of new drilling techniques and the discovery of new shale basins has morphed the landscape of corrosive environments in this market. Hot crude with hydrogen sulfide concentrations, hot hydrocarbons, and increasingly elevated temperatures have put a strain on owners and operators who rely on traditional coatings technology to solve these issues. Traditional coating systems are subjected to increased strain and often fail under stress. A lack of other options suitable for these harsh environments sparked the interest of a team of researchers to understand the new conditions that operators are facing in the field, and to tailor new technology to handle these circumstances. This paper aims to summarize the research process used to understand the changing conditions in Oil and Gas Upstream facilities, show the evaluation methods of new technology, understand distinctive critical performance characteristics, and present the results of the back testing new technology in both field and lab settings.