‘Oil & Gas industry is the second largest after Chemicals facing the problem of corrosion’

Yatinder Pal Singh Suri,
Country Head, Outokumpu India Pvt Ltd.
Today's Oil & Gas exploration & production is more challenging as service conditions have become increasingly severe with higher temperatures, higher pressures, sour fields (high H2S content) with high CO2 levels. All these challenges pose a big demand on safety and require advanced technologies, improved equipment and high performance materials in order to ensure the smooth and especially safe production of oil and gas, says Yatinder Pal Singh Suri, Country Head, Outokumpu India Pvt Ltd. In an email interaction with Rakesh Roy, he illuminates on anti-corrosion materials & alloys of Outokumpu in safeguarding HSE aspects of Oil & Gas industry in details.

India is now the third largest steel producer worldwide, however low per capita consumption. According to you, what are the growth drivers for the same and the contribution of Indian hydrocarbon sector in this growth?
With crude stainless steel production at 3 million tonne, India ranks as the third largest producer and second largest consumer of stainless steel. The market for 2013-14 was at 2.5 million tonne of which flat products accounted for ~2 million tonne. With a low per capita consumption of 2.1 kg (as against the world average of 5 kgs) there lies a huge potential for future growth.

Interestingly, the share of stainless steel production in overall steel production in India is more than 4 percent, which is much higher than about 2 percent share globally. But due to low per capita usage the stainless steel sector in India suffers from huge overcapacity and the emerging growth opportunities in infrastructure investments can see huge demand potential to consume the overcapacity over the next few years. Even a growth of 1 kg per capita from the current level of 2 kg can mean a demand surge of 1 million tonne of stainless steel.

India will also be riding the wave of growth in all sectors presently including use of stainless steel. It is being considered engine of growth for the economy. The demand for stainless steel is on constant increase in the country due to development of better infrastructure, increasing consumption in various sectors and projects as well as quickly gaining popularity in terms of preference due to its properties like corrosion resistance, aesthetics, low life cycle cost and health & safety aspects.

Demand for stainless steel for the entire Hydrocarbon spectrum, ranging from onshore to offshore, has been growing in India due to corrosion issues faced and the need to have equipments which do not need a repair shutdown. Therefore requirements on high-end materials of construction used in hydrocarbon exploration and processing are increasing. More over hydrocarbon currently is the most demanding sector which has created a large market for stainless tanks, pipes, pumps and valves in the country. The demand for corrosion free higher metallurgy materials are on increase in high-end industries including Oil & Gas, Energy, Shipping, Railways, Bridges Desalination, Water & Sewage Treatment and Sea Ports. There is a need to eliminate maintenance costs due to corrosion in these segments and seek right solutions to enhance the life of products, plant, machinery and civil structures as well as human health and safety through hygiene by using suitable grades of stainless steel.

Corrosion is one of the outstanding challenging problems in Oil & Gas exploration, processing and pipeline systems, resulted a loss of several billions of dollars & environmental mess. How can be anti-corrosion materials grade safeguarded the interest of the industry in this regard. What are the offerings of Outokumpu to its customers in this direction ?
India loses more than USD 40 billion a year - about 4 per cent of the size of the total economy - due to corrosion in infrastructure and industry segments. Over the past few decades, corrosive conditions in the Oil and Gas Industry have steadily grown in severity. It prompts a need for efforts to minimise the downtime and failures through better corrosion mitigation practices, most reliable being the use of appropriate grade of stainless steel. Good news is that Government of India has woken up to this reality and signed a vision document with USA with corrosion mitigation as one of the key objectives.

With pipelines for transport of natural gas as well as oil being laid decades ago in carbon steel with coatings, corrosion accounts for nearly 20 to 25 percent of the leakages in pipelines and several other Grade-3 leakages. We have seen corrosion failures leading to explosions and fatalities as well as oil spillage in seas as well as agricultural land.

Oil & Gas industry is the second largest after Chemicals facing the problem of corrosion. Worldwide oil companies are using corrosion resistant materials including stainless steel for process gas and oil transportation, piping systems, separators, scrubbers, pumps, manifolds, flowlines and pipelines transporting corrosive Oil & Gas. Duplex grades have become standard in the inner tubing of flexible pipe, and in umbilicals. Not only do the duplex grades protect against corrosion, but they are capable of supporting their own weights in deep water.

Over the past few decades, as the oil exploration goes deeper into the sea the corrosive conditions in the Oil & Gas Industry have steadily grown in severity. The offshore oil industry continually pushes oil exploration to greater depths, which leads to higher pressure conditions and high temperatures. It is of prime importance in these industries to select corrosion-resistant materials that meet those tests to achieve long maintenance. In subsea applications, the cost of repairs can be ten times higher than the cost of higher metallurgy materials used initially. This is a very important aspect which needs to be implemented.

Outokumpu is the global leader in advanced materials with very wide product portfolio including advanced materials we can offer the most optimal solution for almost all kind of applications. In applications where very high ductility, wide temperature ranges, or specific corrosion features are desired, Outokumpu's austenitic stainless steel and super-austenitic stainless steel grades are often most recommended. Outokumpu's super -austenitic stainless steel grades have shown reliability in resisting highly corrosive environments including sea water applications and for projects requiring high strength.

How has the technical challenges of anti-corrosion materials & alloys been changed with the changing global oil & gas business environment. What are the steps Outokumpu has been taken to match the requisites with the changing scenario?
World Over including India stainless steel industry is now focussing on highend application segment including the applications in the growing energy sector by supplying its premium grade steel to upcoming challenges in power projects which include nuclear, renewable and fossil energy as well as applications in oil and gas, chemical processing industries, coastal bridges and desalination plants where human safety and process efficiency elements play a key role.

Outokumpu, being the innovator of stainless steel, has biggest R & D centre. There is one for process improvements to offer price advantage and another one for product and application innovations for sustainable advantage. Our sales companies are backed up by product specialists for each segment for our offerings and our customer liaison is coordinated by a well-trained technical expert team and service support to help customers get the greatest value out of using stainless steel on the project.

The high end requirements in critical industries like Oil and Gas, energy generation need high quality stainless steels which form a key material in hostile environments. The oil and gas production is very high on safety where absolute reliability is most crucial. Outokumpu, being the pioneer in product and application innovations, can satisfy stringent requirements for applications in onshore or offshore, upstream or downstream.

Outokumpu's presence in India is primarily relevant for high-end grades and higher dimensions which are not manufactured in India. Being the oldest and largest stainless steel player in the world, India definitely needs Outokumpu innovations.

Deepwater oil & gas plays an ever-more important role to play in future global oil & gas industry. What are the subsea solutions Outokumpu has provided to the industry?
Over the past few decades, corrosive conditions in the Oil and Gas Industry have posed new challenges. The offshore oil industry continually pushes oil exploration to greater depths, which leads to higher pressure conditions and harsher environments. The future of oil and gas drilling could soon be nearly invisible from shore.

The ocean floor leads to difficult environments, and in order to safe guard against the high cost of component failure, it has become critical to ensure that the right alloys are chosen for applications within the oil and gas industry. This has created a demand for stainless steel especially Duplex 2205 and other lean as well as super duplex stainless steels.

Outokumpu has been a key supplier of stainless steel to the Oil & Gas industry for upstream and downstream applications – from oil and gas production to transport and storage, refineries, LNG plants and petrochemical units. As wells are explored at greater depths, the piping becomes heavier. The superior mechanical strength of duplex stainless steel benefits the industry by allowing for lighter design. Outokumpu pioneered the development of duplex during the past decades catering to more than half of all duplex stainless steel in the world today.

Also on the platform, the increased mechanical strength of the duplex grades can be utilized. The most recently developed Outokumpu EDX 2304™ NORSOK Approved which, thanks to enhanced levels of strength and corrosion resistance, is set to deliver significant material savings and lifecycle advantages with lifetime of a platform enhanced to more than 50 years .

Outokumpu's Duplex 2205 and other duplex grades are increasingly the material of choice for process piping systems, separators, scrubbers, pumps, manifolds, X-mas tree components, flowlines and pipelines transporting corrosive oils and gas.

Safety is an utmost of importance in Oil & Gas industry - be it onshore & offshore - in protecting personnel, equipment and environment. Can you please explain Outokumpu's thought on it in providing materials solutions for the industry?
Despite efforts to promote renewable resources, oil and gas is expected to continue to be the backbone of energy supply for the decades ahead. As conventional available reserves are largely being exhausted, more difficult fields have to be explored and enhanced oil recovery methods have to be utilised in existing fields in order to keep up with the accelerating demand for oil and gas. The era of easy accessible oil and gas has ended!

Oil and gas production is more challenging today as service conditions have become increasingly severe, e.g.: higher temperatures, higher pressures, sour fields (high H2S content) with high CO2 levels. All these challenges pose a big demand on safety and require advanced technologies, improved equipment and high performance materials in order to ensure the smooth and especially safe production of oil and gas.

One of the most sought-after traits of stainless steel is the corrosion resistant property. When a material encounters corrosion process it becomes weak, contaminated and fails to hold its own under a wide array of environments. It becomes a major safety issue. But when the right grade of stainless steel is selected, the damaging effects and costs are eliminated from the process to ensure safety.

Other than materials supply, what are the USPs that make Outokumpu a preferred company for Oil & Gas industry?
For Oil & Gas companies, Outokumpu comes as natural partner as it has been offering products and applications for the energy industry for decades. Other than material supply, Outokumpu provides Materials testing for optimal grade selection with its extensive experience in testing stainless steels in many environments. The results of many of these tests, covering the most common corrosive elements are available to customers in our Corrosion Handbook.

In specific cases, Outokumpu also offers test samples for customer’s own processes and later supporting with evaluation by our specialists in our own corrosion laboratory. These tests, together with our long experience and tradition in the oil and gas industry, ensure that the grade you finally choose is the optimal solution.

Outokumpu studies customer needs on the spot, delivering professional help not only in material selection but also in planning, logistics advice and adapted service for optimal products, cost-efficient operations, and deliveries according to the customer schedule. We offer support in welding areas for the new grades with our WeldingHandbook.

Moreover the world needs and deserves innovations that support sustainability. Our products and manufacturing process are acclaimed as the best in class in terms of sustainability. The recycled content of our advanced materials varies between 80 per cent and 90 per cent depending on the grade. The nonthermal energy consumption is also over 80 per cent. Our vision of a world that lasts forever is aided by our ongoing commitment to innovation and the development of lasting customer relationships.

How do you plan to steer the growth of the company in India and scaling up the operations?
Outokumpu India Pvt Ltd - a subsidiary of Finnish steel major Outokumpu, has been present in India since 2006. We came to India with something that didn't exist in terms of product forms, grades and applications. In last several years, we have successfully created the market for the new age stainless steel products produced by the company by enlightening the end user and educating the consultants and the decision makers on the competitive advantages they could derive.

We have expanded our presence in five locations ie; Mumbai, Pune, Baroda, Delhi and Chennai - all stainless steel intensive regions. Now we are well established in the Indian market with our superior high end products supporting applications in the field of Oil storage, chemical storage, distribution pipelines, Metro coaches, Railway coaches, Railway wagons, Road and Rail bridges, skywalks, Chemical tanker ships, Food processing and Desalination. Apart from this due to our advanced R & D capabilities, we keep adding new products and applications every year. Stainless steel rebar is another success in India with opportunities for use in coastal and hilly regions.

Outokumpu's presence in India is helping the local manufacturers to learn and upgrade their capabilities to global standards. The end users are delighted to receive personalised and ethical services with cost advantages through education and use of high end grades and higher dimensions which are not manufactured in India. India definitely needs Outokumpu innovations.

For many upcoming projects Outokumpu has been identified as an ideal partner due to our global presence, a wide range of high-end grades for Oil & Gas applications with successful track record of reliable performance in various projects abroad. In fact, we fit into the corrosion mitigation mission of India very well since the oil and gas industry in particular will not face problems either on product knowledge, availability and selection of right materials to prevent corrosion.

The new Outokumpu is the global leader in advanced materials and helping the world to reduce the pace of consumption of our planet. Thus promoting sustainability and help create a world that lasts forever.