corrosion of pipelines

Posted by & filed under Pipe Corrosion.

America transports goods and other forms of material through 2.4 million miles of pipelines.

Crude oil, natural gases, sewer, and most importantly, water travels through these pipelines, which is why the need to understand the environmental factors that cause corrosion of pipelines is important.

Corrosion of pipelines is the leading cause of tank and pipeline failures. The United States spends $7 billion per year to monitor, replace, and maintain pipelines.

Billions can be saved if more knowledge regarding the factors that cause corrosion of pipelines was made more readily available.

Here are 4 environmental factors that can speed up the corrosion of pipelines.

Soil Resistivity and Corrosion of Pipelines

Soil Resistivity is an environmental factor that has to do with the amount of soil that resists the circulation of electricity through it.

The electric current that’s determined by soil resistivity promotes pipeline corrosion.

In a 12-month study on the relationship between soil resistivity and corrosion, the Journal of Corrosion Science and Engineering concluded that soil resistivity not only affects metals–of which pipelines are made of–but serves as an early indicator for the growth rate of corrosion.


Humidity is a form of dew point corrosion that causes environmental corrosion in pipelines.

Dew point corrosion has to do with the damage that arises when the air rises to a certain temperature and the rate of its evaporation and condensation are at the same pressure.

Corrosion in steel pipelines happens in places where the humidity is very high. In Florida alone–which is a tropical state– there are over 31,177 miles of pipelines, 531 of which carry hazardous liquids.

Tropical states carry humid temperatures year round, a dangerous environment for pipelines. Corrosion is imminent.


Saltwater is another environmental factor that causes pipelines to corrode.

Steel pipelines that are exposed to saltier bodies of water like sea water corrode much faster than those near fresh water.

Salty water must be considered when making an attempt to prevent or manage pipeline corrosion.

Sulfur Dioxide

Environmental gases affect the rate of corrosion of pipelines as well. Sulfur Dioxide is one of them.

Sulfur Dioxide, usually found on the back label of most dried, packaged fruits, is a loud-smelling chemical compound.

Though harmless when it’s coated on a batch of apricots, sulfur dioxide turns to sulfuric acid when it’s combined with water and air.

Sulfuric acid is corrosive to steel.

In Summary

Miles of the American underground is inhabited by pipelines, underlying all fifty states.

Almost 200,000 of them transport hazardous liquids, while more than 300,000 haul different gases. These liquids and materials pass directly under our homes and businesses.

The United States could save billions of dollars if environmental factors were a consistent focus. These environmental factors–soil resistivity, humidity, saltwater, and sulfur dioxide–corrode pipelines, destroying the life and health of them over time.

Protecting pipelines against environmental factors that disrupt the safety of transporting hazardous materials is imperative. There are benefits to pipeline protection.

Check out our blog to find out more information and helpful hints about pipeline corrosion and the benefits of pipeline protection.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *