Electroless nickel is a great choice of surface technology for the oil and gas industry. The properties of most value to the industry are generally the uniformity of the thickness of the deposit, the excellent corrosion resistance that it provides, and its properties of abrasion and erosion resistance.
The Use of Electroless Nickel to Enhancing Oil and Gas Base Materials
The base materials that are traditionally used in the oil and gas industry are successfully enhanced by the application of electroless nickel coatings. Not only does electroless nickel lower the fabrication costs of many parts, it also extends the surface life of components. Extending the service of parts used in this industry is incredibly valuable, as the cost of shutdowns can be very expensive and time consuming.
Operations in the oil and gas industry can be divided into 3 main areas; surface operations, subsurface operations or downhole operations, and offshore operations. Equipment is often exposed to severe environmental conditions including chlorides, carbon dioxide, brines, hydrogen sulphide, sea water and reef water, which can contain high levels of sulphur compounds. In addition to this type of exposure, equipment may be exposed to abrasion problems associated with the ingestion of sand, mud, and very high temperatures.
Electroless Nickel and Mild Steel Ball Valves
The excellent properties of electroless nickel have also resulted in the widespread use of electroless nickel coatings in valves and flow control devices, which are critical components in the operation of a well where good performance and long life are major economic factors. The application of electroless nickel to mild steel ball valves is now typical in the oil and gas industry, replacing hard chromium as a corrosion resistant, smooth and uniform coating.
Successful applications of electroless nickel have been observed in all areas of the oil and gas industry. In crude oil production, mild steel ball valves have a maximum life of no more than three months, and fail due to corrosion, surface cracking and erosion. But valve components plated with electroless nickel last for years with no surface deterioration.
Similar benefits have also been observed on ball valves at plants using the sea water injection system which involves pumping sea water under high pressure to force oil to the surface. With a coating of electroless nickel, the valves withstand the conditions and no degradation is detectable after years of operation.