When Steel Weakens Offshore

Steel is the material of choice for offshore drilling companies because of its ability and reliability to easily penetrate rock formations to extract petroleum, and to easily transport product to power facilities. Steel offers many advantages in this capacity, such as its versatility, strength, durability, malleability and cost effectiveness. Since steel is also easy to mass-produce, it’s a common choice for offshore construction applications.

However, there are downfalls to using steel in offshore settings. Its primary disadvantage is corrosion, which causes it to weaken and break over time. That’s because a major component of steel is iron, and while iron is responsible for giving steel much of its strength, it also makes it highly susceptible to corrosion. When moisture and oxygen come in contact with steel, it sets in motion the opportunity for corrosion to begin. In the offshore setting, corrosion is accelerated due to the additional effects of sun, temperature, and salt to the always humid marine environment.

Lower-Cost Composites Perform in the High Seas

Composites like carbon fibersglass fibers and rapid cure resins contain properties that resist the corrosive effects of moisture and oxygen. These composites can protect steel in humid environments and from saltwater and corrosive chemicals, making them a critical component of maritime industries or businesses that transport product through pipelines.

For businesses that rely on steel’s productivity, it’s much more cost effective to use composites to prevent damage caused by corrosion than to restore damaged steel after the fact. Using carbon fibers, glass fibers and rapid cure resins to cover risers and pipelines is an effective way to protect these structures from corrosion caused by moisture and oxygen. In addition to the long-term, cost-saving benefits of protecting steel from corrosion, advancements in technology have reduced the time and expense of producing corrosion-resistant composites, so more businesses can experience the benefits of composite materials. 

With Offshore Drilling Growth, Composites are On Demand

The demand for oil and gas is growing, which means the demand for safe, efficient and cost-effective means of offshore drilling will follow suit. Currently, about 30 percent of global oil production comes from offshore drilling. With the expansion of offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic Oceans, there will be a growing need for carbon fiber and other composites in the industry.

Composites have “proven to be robust and long-lasting in a range of applications. Composites are 10-30 times stronger than liquid epoxies and have approximately 10 times greater fracture toughness. With the broad range of engineered composite repair systems available, there is a proven solution for nearly every type of corrosion found offshore.”¹ And, composites eliminate the time investment that is associated with repairing damage to steel caused by corrosion.

Visit Composites One to learn more about the properties of composites that protect steel from corrosion, making composites an ideal solution for economical corrosion management in offshore settings.

¹Offshore Magazine,