Insight into Oilfield Corrosion by Scanning Tunnelling Microscopy and

Insight into Oilfield Corrosion by Scanning Tunnelling Microscopy and
X-ray Photoelectron Spectrosopy
M. Acres, H. Hussain, C.A. Muryn, R. Lindsay
University of Manchester, Manchester, UK
Sweet corrosion is a common form of oilfield corrosion, involving dissolution of CO2 into
the aqueous phase of the produced fluids to form carbonic acid. Besides inducing metal
loss, sweet corrosion can also result in adherent corrosion scales, which can be protective.
Given the potential importance of sweet corrosion scales, there is significant ongoing effort
to understand them. Substantial progress has been made, in particular as regards the
composition and morphology of established scales. Lacking, however, are nanoscale
details about the nucleation and growth of these scales, including the surface structure/
chemistry prior to scale initiation. On this basis, we have adopted a science type approach
in attempt to address these topics. Using scanning tunnelling microscopy (STM) and x-ray
photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), we have examined the adsorption of H2O/CO2 onto
Fe(110), finding significant variation as a function of both exposure and substrate
temperature. Dissociative adsorption is observed, resulting in long range ordered phases,
as well as more local features (e.g. islands), apparently arising from mass transport of
substrate material. Such results demonstrate the dynamic nature of the iron substrate,
even when exposed to technologically insignificant quantities of pertinent species,
suggesting that our nanoscale mechanistic understanding of sweet oilfield corrosion is at
best currently highly limited.
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