Fast Actions Could Have Saved the Day (and the Pipe)

Insurance Claim, North America

An insurance claim for pipe damage losses had been attributed to the presence of residual brackish water after a hurricane. At issue were the timeliness (or lack thereof) for corrective cleaning and treating after exposure, and a comparison of the clean and treat costs to pipe replacement.

When a hurricane swept through the U.S. Gulf Coast, the subsequent storm surge flooded a pipe storage facility with "brackish" water. Brackish water (in this case, a mixture of seawater and rain water) does not have a salt content as high as seawater (3.5%-5%), but it can still result in accelerated chloride corrosion of steel pipe. Over 1,000 joints of steel casing pipe became totally submerged at the facility, and some brackish water remained inside the pipe for a period of several months after the storm.

In such incidents, the corrosive effects of brackish water can typically be neutralized by water blasting the pipe and subsequently treating it with a chemical to neutralize any residual sodium chloride. However, such treatment can be expensive. In this case, by the time the owner of the pipe received a quotation from the storage facility to blast and treat the pipe, the corrosion had progressed to a point at which the pipe could not be saved and had to be replaced. The owner filed an insurance claim.

Baker & O'Brien was engaged to offer an expert opinion as to whether the casing piping could have been saved had it been blasted and treated in a timely manner following the incident. We were also asked whether the costs associated with water blasting and treating of the pipe would have been less than replacing the pipe and, if so, how much less. Based on evidence of the casing pipe corrosion before and subsequent to the event, we prepared a report that was used by the parties to arrive at a mutually agreeable settlement for the damages.

Kevin P. Milburn

Senior Consultant, PRISM Services Manager

Oil & Gas Production
Standard of Care / Insurance Claims / Engineering, Procurement, and Construction (EPC)
North America