What humans make, can disintegrate. Corrosion eats away at infrastructure, slowly but inexorably. In the oil and gas industry, corrosion is estimated to cost as much as US$3-7 billion each year; corrosion due to microbial activity, or Microbiologically Influenced Corrosion (MIC), accounts for at least 20 per cent. Not enough is known about how MIC occurs, primarily because it has been monitored by approaches that target only about 1 per cent of select microbial groups and because researchers have tended to study it in isolated disciplines, without integrating their findings.
Genomics allow for a deeper understanding and a more holistic examination of MIC processes across disciplines, leading to better understanding and management of MIC in the oil and gas industry. Drs. Lisa Gieg of the University of Calgary, John Wolodko of University of Alberta and Faisal Khan of Memorial University are leading a team with expertise in genomics, electrochemistry, degradation modeling, risk assessment and management and practical applications to produce knowledge about MICs leading to the development of devices and assays, degradation and risk models and management strategies as well as models when, where and why MIC occurs and how to best mitigate it.
By integrating these deliverables into corrosion management frameworks and standards, their use will become widespread, leading to reduced oil spills (by helping to minimize pipeline leaks, for instance) and improved asset integrity worker safety and environmental compliance. They will also extend the productive life of Canada’s oil and gas infrastructure, reducing operating costs and allowing potential capital savings of some $300-500 million, or 10 per cent.
Translating genomics-based technologies into existing corrosion management frameworks that address related safety, environmental, and regulatory issues will comprise the GE3LS research component of the project, as this represents a major gap in the petroleum industry.