Cathodic protection (CP) conveys an active protection against corrosion to pipeline steel surface in case of coating defect. This work studies depolarization phenomena that occurs after CP interruption. The term "depolarization" refers to the pipes returning to its free potential value after cessation of CP. Here we present a laboratory study in soils, using metallic coupons to simulate pipeline coating defect behavior with metallic surface exposed to the electrolyte. After CP interruption the potential value of the steel coupon doesn't return to initial value before CP (around -0.6 V/CSE) but remains higher (up to -0.2 V/CSE) for a long period of time (up to 11 days). This effect can be attributed to the formation of a passivation layer at the metallic surface due to pH increase during CP application. This passive layer confers a remanence to the protection against corrosion of the metallic surface after cessation of CP. This study focuses on understanding this depolarization behavior depending on various parameters: level of CP, time duration of uninterrupted CP, shape of the metallic coupon, composition of the soil media. The objective is to give insight to pipeline operators as to the safety of cathodic protection interruptions on the network depending on environmental conditions.


Oil and gas buried pipelines are protected against corrosion by both organic coatings, a passive protection system, and cathodic protection, an active protection system. When coating defects occur, CP controls the corrosion of the exposed steel surface. From an operating point of view, cathodic protection interruptions can occur on the network during interventions, consignments, or technical problems. Literature indicates that during CP interruption the corrosion rate of the metal remains lower than its free corrosion rate [1]. Application of CP confers a remanence of protection to the metal. The objective of this study is to determine the safe duration for cathodic protection interruptions depending on environmental and cathodic protection conditions.

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