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External Corrosion Direct Assessment Summary

ECDA is a four-step process. Each step is mandatory for an effective ECDA program. ECDA
requires integration of information:
1) Pre-assessment - combining a pipelines physical characteristics, operating history and
prior inspections;
2) Indirect inspection - conducting complementary above the ground field voltage & current
3) Direct examination - exposing pipe for surface measurements including remaining wall
thickness and
4) Post-assessment integrating all as a comprehensive integrity assessment including
validating the process and the estimating the time interval until the next integrity evaluation
is required.
The ECDA Standard - NACE RP 0502
The NACE ECDA Standard is intended to address external corrosion for onshore ferrous
pipe. ECDA is a continuous improvement process. Through successive ECDA applications,
a pipeline operator will identify and address locations where corrosion activity has occurred,
is occurring, or may occur. As such, ECDA provides an advantage over alternative integrity
assessment methodologies, such as in-line inspection (ILI) and pressure testing, by locating
areas where wall loss could form in the future rather than only areas where impressed currents
were insufficient and coating defects have already formed. ECDA can also be used to extend
the interval between successive ILI inspections or hydrostatic tests. The NACE document has
a special section to address poorly coated or bare pipe. Care must be taken when choosing an
inspection tool for bare pipe.
ECDA is a four step process. Information gathered in these four steps is integrated to understand
the integrity of the ECDA pipeline segment and to correctly address any integrity concerns. The
above ground inspections will never estimate wall loss but do measure the overall performance
of the coating and impressed current systems. The laws of chemistry and physics make a
direct measurement of wall loss by close interval survey (CIS) or direct current voltage gradient
(DCVG) impossible. However operators have successfully correlated the information gathered
in the first three steps and prioritized the integrity severity of the locations where the CP voltage
and current criteria were not met. Correlation requires consistent data gathering from individual
to individual and department to department over the entire period of interest. Differences in the
definitions and units and even inadvertent prescreening of data for economic or other convenient
reasons will increase uncertainties and generate non-sensible conclusions.
The NACE Standard provides flow diagrams to structure the activities and ensure that all the
proper avenues are considered and there is a written reason for the various decisions. The
tracking is essential for internal and eventually external audit and to estimate the quality of the
integrity management plan.

Pre-assessment requires the integration of historical, construction, operations and maintenance
records. This can be a simply meeting of company experts, using paper records pulled from
different departmental filing cabinets. Eventually the integration of electronic records from
these diverse departments can be used with rules devised by the experts (i.e. the integrity or
with consequences, risk assessment modeling) to presort the huge amounts of information
and present the summaries on a simple map. Maps have been found useful to bring together
abstract integrity evaluations as a magnitude at a location. Once the volumes of data have been
organized then decisions can be made. These decisions are the beginning of any integrity or
risk management program.
The typical records which are available in various departments should be: purchasing and
construction files, up to date alignment sheets, operating history, foreign crossing history, third
party adjacent construction and one call notices, land use and typical vegetation descriptions,
topography and elevation diagrams, leak and rupture locations and reports, maintenance
history with forensic reasons for the pipe replacements and other repairs, current and prior
above ground inspection reports, previous ILI reports, coating condition and other observations
of electrolytes and soils in excavation reports, corrosion survey reports for test lead, CIS, DCVG
or other above ground inspections, and there could be more. Data integration is neither trivial
nor inexpensive.
The minimum set of data to be collected is organized into five sets of elements; pipe related,
construction related, soils and environment related, corrosion protection, and pipeline operations
considerations. These five are further subdivided into individual data items as detailed in the
NACE standard. Each element has been provided with comments which help the operator
judge how each element may impact the tool(s) selection, the definition of the ECDA region(s),
and the interpretation of the above ground inspections to determine the integrity of the pipe line.
The NACE standard requires more data than in the prescriptive requirements of B31.8S.

Definitions are provided to reduce the uncertainty especially when current jargon has one
department collecting the same observation but with a different label and unfortunately a different
set of units. Consistency in collecting data over the years is essential. As a hint databases can
be designed to have the jargon on the screen but use the standard definitions and units in the
background for each of the fields. The data is needed to correlate the voltage/current readings
with the observed wall loss in those sites excavated. The operator needs to prove that the
integrity assessment algorithms and assumption can link similar sites with similar soils, pipe
and coating materials, and therefore similar patterns in voltage/current readings will suggest the
similar distributions and depths of corrosion pits and general wall loss.
The outcome from Pre-assessment provides the operator with three essential conclusions:
1. ECDA is a viable process to measure integrity
2. Two complimentary tools chosen to inspect the corrosion protection performance
3. The start and finish locations of each ECDA region.
The NACE Standard provides guidance for the selection of appropriate complementary above
ground inspection techniques. Not all the locations along the pipeline are suitable for ECDA
inspections. A convenient concept used to select the appropriate inspection technology from
a list of possibilities is to complete the current path. The wire from the multimeter to the pipe
is the easy trace, but the path back starts across the coating or damage, travels through the
soil to the ground bed and back up the wire lead. This return path can sometimes become
interrupted. Rock backfill, paved roads, lack of soil moisture (high resistivity), coating shielding
liquid pockets, and other local situations can interrupt this return path and make the inspection
invalid. With greater experience the ECDA Tool Selection Matrix will be able to give probability
of detection and the probability of identification (POD & POI), the chance of finding and the
chance of detecting severe corrosion rather than a yes /no indication.
The region is defined by two complementary tools and although the complete; start to finish,
distance from A to D maybe suitable for ECDA a short section may have to use an alternate
inspection tool say to measure what is happening under a paved parking lot were an
electromagnetic approach is more convenient. This suggest there now will be segments A to B
for the first two tools selected, B to C under the pavement with different inspection techniques
and C to D for the first set of tools again.

Indirect Inspection:
The objective of the indirect inspection step is to estimate areas of active corrosion. Different
survey crews probably conduct individual inspections in different years. Each set of results will
need to be superimposed for comparison. It is important to maintain a meta data set or an
estimate of quality for these survey results. The survey monuments for the alignment sheet, the
air photography, the prior year inspections could all have location opinions that differ from the
current survey crew. The CIS crew might use GPS with a +/- half a foot accuracy while the original
alignment sheet survey could be +/- 60 feet. Eventually someone will have the responsibility to
align these records onto the map prior to making integrity decisions. It is preferable to keep the
accuracy always with the original record since this essential quality term allows the interpreter
to control how far drawings can slide around over each other on the light table to see if the
inspections or other ECDA indications fall roughly on top of each other. The meta data wrapper is
needed for constructing error bars, these guide the analyst in determining how far the image can
be safely manipulated. Today this electronic manipulation will probably occur in a information
system software package which is designed for geographical measurements and allows rubber
banding of known reference locations such as that provided by Baseline Technologies.
Once the indications from the above ground inspections are aligned with the Pre-assessment
and historical knowledge, the excavation sites can be located and prioritized for the examination
step. These would be classified as severe; those with the highest likelihood of corrosion activity,
moderate; possible or questionable corrosion activity, or minor; lowest likelihood of corrosion
activity. NACE provides a table to guide operators when deciding how to place locations in
the severity classification. The two inspections should provide consistent results both between
inspections and with the Pre-assessment hypotheses.
Discrepancies need to be resolved to see if the ECDA Regions were correctly chosen.
Examinations of the severe category can begin while the discrepancies are still being
investigated. This clarification of the discrepancies may require reevaluating the ECDA Region
and possibly conducting a third complementary inspection.

Direct Examination:
The object of the direct examination step is to dig at least those indications which are the
most severe. Excavations are also needed to collect information that will help predict the local
corrosion rates. The following activities are to be completed in this the third ECDA step:
1. Categorization of indications found in step two into minor, moderate, severe, or multiple
severe; the latter two classifications are to be are immediately excavated;
2. Excavation and data collection is done in areas were corrosion activity is most likely. The
operator must have procedures for what data is to be collected before during and after
3. Measurement of the coating damage and corrosion defects underneath. The operator
is to extend the bell hole either way until no severe coating damage or no significant
corrosion is found for at least five feet.
4. Evaluations of the remaining strength of the defects can be done using the corrosion
cluster length and maximum depth, and the methodology of B31G, RSTRENG or a
similar engineering analyses such as API RP 579,
5. Root cause analysis will help determine the appropriate mitigation activity to ensure
future corrosion is mitigated.
6. In-Process evaluation is an interim check on the assumptions. If smaller than expected
defects are found then the criteria for severe, moderate or minor can be modified. If
worse then the operator needs to perform additional excavations or reevaluate the
appropriateness of using ECDA for the integrity evaluation. A small sample size generally
leads to erroneous assumptions.
Essentially a prudent operator follows a well proven procedure. The pipe is excavated following
normal safety rules, the coating and ditch inspected, while samples of liquids and other corrosion
related deposits are taken as the coating is removed and the pipe cleaned to bare metal. The
corrosion wall loss; the depth, axial and circumferential extent of the defect photographed and
measured. Next operators should use some form of crack detection technology such as ACFM
or MPI to inspect for cracks particularly if mechanical damage is suspect. All immediate defects
and most of the scheduled defects uncovered at each site will be repaired while the pipe remains
exposed for examination. The corrosion defect geometry can be put into the RSTRENG
calculation to provide the immediate or scheduled classification. The NACE RP 0502 on ECDA
provides additional guidance on classification and repair.
In-process evaluation is an essential real time component of the analysis. The ECDA process
helps find representative corrosion but might not find all the corrosion defects in an ECDA Region.
If corrosion defects are found that exceed allowable limits then it should be assumed that other
similar defects might be in the same ECDA Region. These feed back loops are inherent in all
quality processes as shown below.

The most difficult determination is the number of bell holes an operator is required to excavate.
If the above ground inspections find locations were the criteria are not met then mitigation
must occur. The operator should immediately excavate multiple severe indications, groups of
moderate or severe indications in regions of moderate prior corrosion, and moderate indications
in regions of prior severe corrosion. The remaining severe indications, the remaining moderate
indications in regions of moderate prior corrosion and minor indications in regions of severe
prior corrosion need to be scheduled for later action. The in process evaluation and root cause

analysis will help the operator decide to excavate and recoat or fix the impressed CP system. A
larger number of excavations can be expected if severe indications are indicated.
If the inspections return no indications or moderate indications then at least two excavations are
required at likely sites of corrosion for the first application of ECDA. If the root cause investigation
or in process evaluation steps at these two sites suggest the assumptions require modification,
then the operator must conduct more excavations. If severe corrosion is found then the operator
must return to the Pre-assessment step and consider if ECDA is appropriate, are the inspection
techniques correct, and are there new start and finish points for the ECDA Regions?
This stage prioritizes the mitigation and repair schedule, validates the process, and determines
the period of time until the next integrity evaluation for each of the ECDA Regions. Priority and
time require all the information gathered in the previous three steps. The standard assumes that
all of the immediate defects will have all been addressed (CP fixed, coating repaired or pipe cut
out) and the scheduled defects prioritized so the worst will be fixed first during the interval until
the next integrity evaluation. Any of the moderate and probably most of the minor indications
will be expected to have been mitigated by either upgrading the cathodic protection system or
excavating to evaluated the corrosion then recoating before burial.
The distribution of defects remaining in the system will be a correlation of the Pre-assessment,
Inspection and Excavation data to determine the classification by inspection categories; versus
the number and size of the corrosion defects found in the associated bell holes. It is assumed
that the severe indications will have a corrosion distribution skewed towards greater coating
problems, and maybe wall loss, while the minor indications are locations of limited coating
damage with little or insignificant wall loss. The largest defect in these distributions of defect
size with the remaining moderate, and minor indications (the severe having been mitigated) and
the corresponding corrosion rate for each indication can be used in the performance regulations
to predict the length of time until the defect could corrode sufficiently to leak. The data to support
both the estimate the size of the largest remaining defect and the corresponding corrosion rate
may not be available early in the program.
The prescriptive calculation for period between integrity evaluations is based on a conservative
half life estimate in the ECDA standard. Essentially the remaining half life of a ECDA Region is
determined by the size of the thinnest defect not repaired or replaced. The half life is determined
by dividing the remaining wall thickness by the corrosion rate and multiplying the answer by
0.43, a conservative constant.
Once the direct examinations are initiated, expected correlations will be confirmed. When this
information is correlated with soil analysis and other pre-assessment data, additional digs may
still be required. The findings during direct examination will improve the correlation between
the CIS and DCGV voltage signals and the coating and pipe condition (general or pitting wall
loss). The correlation would determine the further extent of additional excavations. Using soil
moistures and other analyses when combined with other pre-assessment data, may allow
corrosion rates to be calculated. An estimate of the distribution of the defect sizes remaining
behind after mitigation and the corrosion rate at each site will set the re-inspection intervals
determined in step four, Post-assessment.

Performance Measurement:
Performance or ECDA Effectiveness of the immediate activity is obtained by digging two bell
holes at selected locations. One location was to be categorized as scheduled (monitored if
no Scheduled exist) and one were there will be no inspection indications found. If defects are
found that are larger than expected and they would result in shorter intervals between integrity
evaluations then the whole ECDA process shall be re-evaluated or repeated or an alternative
integrity method such as ILI or hydro testing used.
Long-term improvement in ECDA performance can be tracked from a decreasing number of
excavations, the increase in total number of miles of pipe inspected, and/or the increase in
inspection mileage by each of the tools employed. There are a variety of suggestions to show the
integrity of the pipeline is improving. Monitoring change is the heart of continuous improvement.
The ECDA process requires annual re evaluation and management of change. Assumptions
are continually evaluated and discrepancies force review of these assumptions. The flow chart
requires annual updating and reevaluation of the decisions made in prior iterations.
The collection of interrelated records and data needs to be organized for internal and external
auditing as well as to ensure continuous improvement. The historical data once verified remains
stable but the new decisions made, the current integrity inspections and excavations and post
assessment decisions need to be recorded in a consistent fashion. Section 7 of the NACE
ECDA Standard provides guidance and each operator is encouraged to document their records
in a clear concise, workable method that are pertinent to the four ECDA steps; pre-assessment,
inspection, examination, and post-assessment.