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Best Practice

SABP-A-013

11 April 2007

Corrosion Control in Amine Units


Document Responsibility: Materials & Corrosion Control Standards Committee

Saudi Aramco DeskTop Standards


Table of Contents
1
2
3
4
5

Previous Issue: New

Scope and Purpose....................................... 2


Conflicts and Deviations................................ 2
References.................................................... 2
Definitions and Abbreviations........................ 3
Process Considerations................................ 3
5.1 Process Description.............................. 3
5.2 Process Flow Diagram........................... 4
5.3 Corrosive Species.................................. 5
Damage Types.............................................. 6
6.1 Damage Mechanisms............................ 6
6.2 Damage Locations................................ 8
Corrosion Control Options........................... 10
7.1 Design Aspects.................................... 10
7.2 Materials Selection............................... 11
7.3 Coatings............................................... 12
7.4 Chemical Inhibition............................... 12
7.5 Process Variables................................ 12
Corrosion Monitoring................................... 16
8.1 Techniques.......................................... 16
8.2 Locations.............................................. 16
8.3 Inspection............................................ 17
8.4 Stream Analysis................................... 18

Next Planned Update: 10 April 2012


Page 1 of 19

Primary contact: Dias, Olavo Cosmio on 966-3-8747982


CopyrightSaudi Aramco 2007. All rights reserved.

Document Responsibility: Materials & Corrosion Control


Issue Date: 11 April 2007
Next Planned Update: 10 April 2012

SABP-A-013
Corrosion Control in Amine Units

Scope and Purpose


This SABP provides guidelines that will improve the integrity of amine units through a
fundamental understanding of the damage mechanisms, process parameters, inspection
techniques, corrosion monitoring, analytical needs and corrosion control options.
It is based on current industry experiences and recent integrity assessments of amine
plants of gas plants and refineries in Saudi Aramco by an inter-departmental and
multidisciplinary team of experts. It is meant for internal use only.

Conflicts and Deviations


If there is a conflict between this Best Practice and other standards and specifications,
please contact the Coordinator of ME&CCD/CSD.

References
Saudi Aramco Engineering Procedures and Standards
SAEP-1135

On-Stream Inspection Administration

SAESA-301

Materials Resistant to Sulfide Stress Corrosion


Cracking

SAES-H-001

Coating Selection & Application Requirements for


Industrial Plants and Equipment

SAES-L-132

Material Selection for Piping Systems

SAES-W-010

Welding Requirements for Pressure Vessels

SAES-W-011

Welding Requirements for On-Plot Piping

Industry Codes and Standards


API RP 570

Inspection, Repair, Alteration and Rerating of InService Piping Systems

API RP 571

Damage Mechanisms Affecting Fixed Equipment


in the Refining Industry

API RP 580

Risk Based Inspection

API PUB 581

Risk-Based Inspection Base Resource Document

API RP 945

Avoiding Environmental Cracking in Amine Units

Publications
Managing Corrosion Challenges in Amine Treating Units at Gas Plants M. A.
Saleem and F. A. Al-Odah, 10th Middle East Corrosion Conference, 2004.
Page 2 of 19

Document Responsibility: Materials & Corrosion Control


Issue Date: 11 April 2007
Next Planned Update: 10 April 2012

SABP-A-013
Corrosion Control in Amine Units

Solvent Quality Guidelines - CCR Technologies Bulletin - 2004


Corrosion Control in Amine Treating Units - D. Owen, 9MECC (February
2001) & ICorr/NACE Conference, Edinburgh, Sept. 2001
Contamination and Purification of Alkaline Gas Treating Solutions J. G.
McCullough and R. B. Nielsen, CORROSION 96.
Amine Plant Troubleshooting and Optimization R. G. F. Abry and R. S.
DuPart, Hydrocarbon Processing, April 1995.
Corrosion in DGA Gas Treating Plants M. K. Seubert and G. D. Wallace,
CORROSION 85
Amine Appearance Signals Condition of the System, N. P. Libermann, Oil and
Gas Journal, May 1980
Corrosion Control DGA Sweetening Plants Texaco Chemical Co-1980s
4

Definitions and Abbreviations


API
ASME
CO2
CS
DEA
DGA
H2S
HSAS
mpy
MEA
MDEA
OSI
PFD
SCC
SS
TML
UT

American Petroleum Institute


American Society of Mechanical Engineers
Carbon Dioxide
Carbon Steel
Diethanolamine
Diglycolamine
Hydrogen Sulfide
Heat Stable Amine Salts
Mils per Year
Monoethanolamine
Methyldiethanolamine
On Stream Inspection
Process Flow Diagram
Stress Corrosion Cracking
Stainless Steel
Thickness Measurement Location
Ultrasonic Testing

Process Considerations
5.1

Process Description
The primary function of amine units is to remove hydrogen sulfide (H2S),
carbon dioxide (CO2) and mercaptans from hydrocarbon process streams
Page 3 of 19

Document Responsibility: Materials & Corrosion Control


Issue Date: 11 April 2007
Next Planned Update: 10 April 2012

SABP-A-013
Corrosion Control in Amine Units

through absorption. In refineries, sour gases can come from a variety of sources
such as crude units, hydrotreaters, fluid catalytic cracking units and
hydrocrackers. Sour gas is also generated in the GOSPs, gas wells and gas
plants.
Different types of amine solvents are currently being used gas plants use DGA
and MDEA while refineries use DGA, MEA, MDEA and DEA. The new
projects are looking at reformulated amines. A brief description follows:
Amine
Type

Description

MEA
DEA
MDEA
DGA

Monoethanolamine
Diethanolamine
Methyldiethanolamine
Diglycolamine

Typical
Limit,
wt%
20
30
50
50

Type

Degradation

Thermal
Reclaiming

Primary
Secondary
Tertiary
Primary

Easy
Somewhat
Less prone
Easy

Yes
No*
No*
Yes

* MDEA & DEA could be reclaimed by the difficult and expensive route of vacuum distillation, ion exchange
or electrodialysis.

5.2

Process Flow Diagram


The figure below shows a typical process flow diagram for an amine gas treating
unit. The feed gas enters the Absorber or Contactor through a distributor at the
bottom of the vessel. Gas plants generally have a feed gas filter upstream of the
absorber to remove particulates. The lean amine enters the top and removes the
acid gases through absorption and becomes rich. The rich amine flows to the
Flash Drum (not in all plants) to remove light, entrained and condensed
hydrocarbons. In many units, this solution then goes to the rich/lean cross
exchangers and then to the top of the Stripper or Regenerator. Here, the
pressure reduction, heat and steam help to strip the acid gases. The acid gases
go to the overhead condensers and the reflux accumulator and finally to sulfur
recovery. The lean amine from the bottom of the stripper is cooled via lean
amine coolers prior to entering the absorber.
Reboilers are used to maintain the stripper temperature. Side stream filters are
used in lean amine to continuously remove scale, solids, hydrocarbon and other
impurities. Also, side stream reclaimers help remove degradation products in
DGA and MEA units only.
Absorber columns generally operate at temperatures from ambient to 190F.
Pressures can range from 100 psi to > 1000 psi and hence the plants are
categorized as low, medium and high pressure units. Regenerator bottoms
temperatures are between 240-280F and pressures are generally < 20 psi.

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Document Responsibility: Materials & Corrosion Control


Issue Date: 11 April 2007
Next Planned Update: 10 April 2012

SABP-A-013
Corrosion Control in Amine Units

Sweet Gas
to Fuel

H2S to
Sulfur Plant

Regenerator
Overhead Cond.

Sweet Gas
K.O. Drum

105F

Regenerator
Reflux
Drum

14 psi
Filters

205F
Amine
Cooler

Amine
Regenerator/Stripper

Amine
Absorber/Contactor
Sour Gas
K.O. Drum

190F

Sour
Gas

270F

Flash
Gas

Amine Reboilers

18 psi
Rich/Lean
Exchanger

75 psi steam
360F

Pressures, psi
Low (low hundreds),
Medium (mid hundreds)
High (thousands)

5.3

Amine Reclaimer
Rich Amine
Flash Drum

Corrosive Species
Most corrosion in loaded amine systems is acidic in nature. A discussion of the
different corrosive species follows:

Page 5 of 19

Document Responsibility: Materials & Corrosion Control


Issue Date: 11 April 2007
Next Planned Update: 10 April 2012

SABP-A-013
Corrosion Control in Amine Units

H2S - reacts with iron to form a scale that can be protective against corrosion in
the absence of contaminants and if the velocities/turbulence are not too high. It
is corrosive in the presence of water.
CO2 - dissolves in the amine solution to form carbonic acid which reacts with
iron to form an iron carbonate scale which is not so protective.
Oxygen - reacts with amine solutions to form formic, oxalic, acetic and other
organic acids. Higher levels can form iron oxides and iron hydroxides. The
main sources are amine unit feeds, sumps, storage tanks and make up water.
Acids - react with amines and other bases to form Heat Stable Amine Salts
(HSAS). They include organic acids of formate, acetate, propionate, butyrate,
glycolate and oxalate as well as inorganic acids of chlorides, sulphate,
phosphate, nitrate and thiosulphate. Acids can also lead to wet acid corrosion in
the stripper overhead.
Ammonium Bisulfide - generally forms and accumulates in the stripper overhead
reflux circuit if the ammonia levels are too high leading to erosion-corrosion.
Chlorides experience has shown that > 500 ppm chloride levels in the amine
solution can cause stress corrosion cracking of stainless steels.
6

Damage Types
The high pH aqueous amine solution creates a relatively non-corrosive environment for
carbon steel. Corrosion is attributed to the dissociation of the absorbed gases or
releasing of the unabsorbed gases in the amine solution. The most severe corrosion
found is acidic in nature caused by localized areas of depressed pH. The accumulation
of acids combined with high gas concentrations, high temperatures and
velocities/turbulence increases corrosion activity. Corrosion is most common in the hot
areas of the unit, the reboiler, regenerator column, regenerator overhead and hot amine
piping and exchangers. Older plants that have been trouble-free for years can suffer
rapid corrosion due to changes in operating parameters. Typical damage types and
locations are discussed below:
6.1

Damage Mechanisms
6.1.1

Velocity and Turbulence


Severe localized erosion-corrosion, by removal of the protective iron
sulfide scale, can occur due to high flow velocities and turbulence. This
affects piping, inlets to exchangers, reboilers as well as pumps and
letdown valves.

Page 6 of 19

Document Responsibility: Materials & Corrosion Control


Issue Date: 11 April 2007
Next Planned Update: 10 April 2012

6.1.2

SABP-A-013
Corrosion Control in Amine Units

Rich Amine Flashing


Flashing is caused by temperature increases or pressure reductions that
upset the acid gas-amine equilibrium. It produces a vapor phase
containing little amine to prevent a low pH at the point of
recondensation. The areas of highest corrosion potential are the
reboilers, hot rich/lean amine piping, rich/lean exchangers and the
stripper.

6.1.3

Environmental Cracking
Wet H2S Cracking (Carbon Steel): This occurs when carbon steel is
exposed to a minimum of 50 ppm H2S and liquid water such as in the
stripper overhead circuit. It can manifest itself in three forms Hydrogen Induced Cracking (HIC) with blisters or blister cracks oriented
parallel to the plate surface, Stress Oriented Hydrogen Induced Cracking
(SOHIC) with blisters/cracks linked in the through thickness direction by
transgranular cracks and Sulfide Stress Cracking(SCC) that occurs due to
high microstructural hardness. Hydrogen blisters and cracking have
been found in the bottom of amine absorbers.
Amine SCC (Carbon Steel): Generally occurs in non-stress relieved
carbon steel. It occurs in places of high hardness and/or where there are
high concentrations of stresses. Experience shows it occurring
predominantly in lean amine solutions in refineries while in natural gas
plants it occurs primarily in rich amine solutions. Cracking in MEA
happens at lower temperatures than DEA or MDEA. Equipment in many
older units were stress relieved based on temperatures. The current
practice is to stress relieve all MEA, MDEA and DEA equipment
irrespective of temperatures. For DGA, SAES-W-010 requires stress
relief above 138oC.
Chloride SCC (Austenitic Stainless Steels: This can occur in reboiler
tubes, rich-lean exchangers and the reclaimers if chloride levels exceed
500 ppm in the amine solution and if U-bends are not stress relieved or
fully annealed.
Polythionic Acid SCC (Austenitic Stainless Steels): The combination of
stress, oxygen and sulfide scales during shutdowns can lead to SCC of
sensitized (due to the welding process) stainless steels. This requires the
use of low carbon (L) grades of stainless steels.

Page 7 of 19

Document Responsibility: Materials & Corrosion Control


Issue Date: 11 April 2007
Next Planned Update: 10 April 2012

6.1.4

SABP-A-013
Corrosion Control in Amine Units

Stripper Overhead Corrosion


This is caused by carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, ammonium bisulfide
and other acids dissolved in the condensing steam. There are two types
of corrosion that can occur here. The first is wet acid corrosion caused
by CO2 or H2S combining with condensed water. A low concentration
of amine in the overhead keeps the pH from dropping too low. A
slipstream of lean amine is sometimes used to keep 500 ppm amine
residual in the reflux water.
The second is erosion-corrosion that occurs when large amounts of
ammonia results in the formation of high ammonium bisulfide
concentrations in the reflux circuit. Purging or blowdown is frequently
used to reduce concentrations below 2 wt % ammonium bisulfide.
The main source of ammonia is hydrotreaters in refineries. If water
wash is not adequate upstream of amine absorber, ammonia is absorbed
in amine and travels up to top of amine stripper. The other source of
ammonia is degradation of amine due to excessive thermal heating,
leading to ammonia formation.

6.2

Damage Locations
The figure below provides the different damage mechanisms and their locations.

Page 8 of 19

Document Responsibility: Materials & Corrosion Control


Issue Date: 11 April 2007
Next Planned Update: 10 April 2012

SABP-A-013
Corrosion Control in Amine Units

Page 9 of 19

Document Responsibility: Materials & Corrosion Control


Issue Date: 11 April 2007
Next Planned Update: 10 April 2012

SABP-A-013
Corrosion Control in Amine Units

Corrosion Control Options


7.1

Design Aspects
Velocities
There are a number of guidelines provided by industry to prevent erosioncorrosion of carbon steel used in amine units. These are as follows:

API RP571 suggests 3-6 fps for rich amine and < 20 fps for lean amine
solutions;
API PUB581 suggests < 5 fps for rich amine and < 20 fps for lean amine
solutions;
API RP945 suggests < 6 fps for rich amine and more specifically < 5 fps for
DGA service.

Plants need to utilize their own OSI data to set limits. There is generally a lower
velocity limit to prevent sludge build-up and underdeposit corrosion.
The recommended guidelines are as follows:

Rich amine - 3-6 ft/s or per OSI readings;


Lean amine - 3-10 ft/s or per OSI readings;
In case velocities cannot be reduced, 316L SS may be used in highly
turbulent areas.
Another option is to internally overlay or clad with 316L stainless steel or
use coatings (see Section 7.3 for coating selection).

Turbulence
There are several areas that are susceptible to potential acid gas flashing and
erosion-corrosion. These include the contactor and flash drum control valves
and downstream piping. General industry practice has been to hardface the
valve outlets and to use stainless steels. Avoiding dissimilar metal couples and
matching the weld/base metal chemistries will help minimize the risk of
galvanic and preferential weld corrosion.
Tube end erosion-corrosion of heat exchanger tubes can be reduced by inserting
stainless steel or ceramic ferrules.
High turbulence areas can also be designed out (an example is the use of long
radius elbows for bends). Properly sized gaskets can prevent intrusion into pipe
annulus and subsequent turbulence.
Fretting corrosion is a problem for reclaimers due to vibration. Having a proper
design of the reclaimer can reduce the susceptibility to this problem.
Page 10 of 19

Document Responsibility: Materials & Corrosion Control


Issue Date: 11 April 2007
Next Planned Update: 10 April 2012

7.2

SABP-A-013
Corrosion Control in Amine Units

Materials Selection
Carbon steel is the most prevalent material used in amine units. However, with
the increased capacity and contaminants, stainless steels are increasingly being
specified. The choice of alloys depends on the type of acid gases (CO2 or H2S),
type of amine, turbulence, flow velocity and temperature. HIC resistant material
is used where applicable.
For austenitic stainless steels, there is always a potential for chloride stress
corrosion cracking. Generally, a maximum limit of 500 ppm chloride in the
amine is used and exchanger tubes are fully immersed in liquid to prevent
concentration effects and pitting. To further minimize SCC, exchanger U-bends
are solution annealed and no mechanical straightening is permitted after the
stress-relief treatment.
Specific locations where alloys can be employed are discussed below:
Reclaimer, Reboiler and Lean/Rich Exchanger Tube Cracking
The preferred tube metallurgy is 316L SS due to potential for pitting and high
chloride concentrations. There have been 304 SS tube failures when dry boil out
occurs and chlorides concentrate.
Lean Solution Coolers and Stripper Reboiler Tube Erosion
These exchangers can suffer from tube end thinning as a result of erosion
corrosion. 316L stainless steel or ceramic tube inserts have been beneficial.
Control Valve Erosion-Corrosion:
The following control valves can suffer from acid gas flashing and
erosion/corrosion attack contactor bottom valve to the flash drum, pressure
letdown valve to the stripper, and the flow control valve from the side cooler to
the contactor. Recent industry practice has been to use Stellite hardfaced 316 SS
valves and to use 316L SS for the affected downstream piping.
Lean Amine Pump and Discharge Piping Erosion:
Amine circulating pumps (especially impellers) and discharge piping are at risk
for erosion/corrosion. 316L SS is used if corrosion rates are unacceptable.
Stripper overhead piping
Use HIC resistance material carbon steel to prevent wet H2S damages such as
blistering, HIC, and SOHIC.

Page 11 of 19

Document Responsibility: Materials & Corrosion Control


Issue Date: 11 April 2007
Next Planned Update: 10 April 2012

SABP-A-013
Corrosion Control in Amine Units

Potential Upgrade Locations (If other control measures fail):


Corrosion in the bottom sections of the Contactor, Flash Drum, Feed Gas Drum
and Stripper Reflux Drum use CS clad with 316L SS.
7.3

Coatings
Saudi Aramco has been a pioneer in the use of coatings in amine plants. Recent
testing showed that the three coat system of APCS-2A/2C is not chemically
resistance to high concentration of amines. An intensive coating testing
program to develop high temperature coatings that can resist high concentration
of DGA solutions up to 150C was conducted. Only Belzona 1591 and Durapol
UHT coatings were found to be the chemically resistant. Both have shown good
promise in gas plant applications.
Listed below are recommended coatings for different services:
Feed Gas Drum and Filters - Thick film, single coat system such as Chemiflak,
Polyglass VEF or Interline 955.
Rich Amine Flash Drum, Contactor bottom and Amine Sump - thick film,
chemical resistance coatings such as: Durapol UHT or Belzona 1591.
Stripper Reflux Drum: Since the amine concentration is low (<2%),
APCS-2A/2C is the most economical option. Some plants also supplement this
with cathodic protection due to the presence of a large liquid phase.

7.4

Chemical Inhibition
Corrosion inhibitors employed are of two basic types - organic filming amines
and passivating. Filming amines help form more protective iron sulfide scales as
well as act as dispersants to remove existing deposits. They are generally added
into the stripper overhead with a slip stream of the reflux.
The passivation type inhibitors utilize oxygen scavengers, antioxidants or metal
passivators to promote the formation of magnetite scale (Fe3O4). Potential
problems are spalling at low temperatures and lack of protection of stainless
steels. Oxidative inhibitors are not used with MDEA due to increased corrosion.
In general, experience with these inhibitors has not been favorable.

7.5

Process Variables
The key primary process corrosion variables are temperature, amine
concentration & circulation rate and acid gas loading. The secondary variables
are heat stable salts, contaminants and excessive stripping.

Page 12 of 19

Document Responsibility: Materials & Corrosion Control


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Next Planned Update: 10 April 2012

SABP-A-013
Corrosion Control in Amine Units

There is a strong interdependence of the primary variables on corrosion. As an


example, the relationship between acid gas loading, solution concentration and
circulation rates to control corrosion are shown below for a DGA gas plant.

Guideline for Amine Circulation Rate @ 90% of Equilibrium Acid Gas Load
11500

11000

DGA Circulation Rate (GPM) @ 140 F

10500

10000

9500

9000

8500

8000

14.5%
14.0%
13.5%
13.0%

7500

acid
acid
acid
acid

gas
gas
gas
gas

7000

6500
350

360

370

380

390

400

410

420

430

440

450

460

470

480

490

500

510

520

530

540

550

Gas Rate (MMSCFD)

Guidelines for Amine Circulation Rate at 90% of Equilibrium Acid Gas Loading and DGA solution strength of 48 wt%.

Temperature
Carbon steel corrosion increases significantly above 250F in amine systems and
is a function of impurities and degradation products. The highest temperature is
generally found in the regenerator bottoms and reboilers. Also, above 220F,
there is acid gas flashing and severe localized corrosion of carbon steel in rich
amine solutions. In reclaimers, temperatures above 300F for MEA and 360F
for DGA will result in amine degradation and corrosion even in stainless steels.
Amine concentration & Circulation Rate
The optimal combination of amine concentration, circulation rate and acid gas
loading is used to minimize corrosion. The solution strength is the sum of the
free amine concentration and the amine tied up as heat stable salts, using the
titration method. Note that it is the free amine only which is active and
participates in absorption reaction. Above a certain limit, serious corrosion can
occur since higher concentrations require increased regeneration temperatures.
Typical maximum limits for different amines are as follows in weight percent:

Page 13 of 19

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Next Planned Update: 10 April 2012

SABP-A-013
Corrosion Control in Amine Units

MEA 20%, DEA- 30%, MDEA- 50% and DGA 50%


Increased circulation rates lead to higher velocities and local pressure changes
that result in erosion corrosion and acid gas flashing in the system. Corrosion
inhibitors sometimes have helped here.
Acid Gas Loading
Acid gas loading is expressed as moles of acid per mole amine and is related to
the acid gas feed rate and circulation rates that are built into the plant design.
Sizing a plant too small or operating above design capacity can lead to serious
corrosion problems. If more acid gases are dissolved in the amine solution than
can react with amines, very corrosive amine compounds are formed.
Normally, the plant uses the calculated acid gas pick-up ratio for control that
excludes the acid gas in lean amine and thermal degradation products. Hence,
the calculated rich amine acid gas loading will be lower. Actual amine samples
are preferred for acid gas loading determination.
The limits are generally set by equilibrium conditions but are ultimately dictated
by corrosion aspects. Typical limits are as follows:
Loadings
(mole/mole)
Rich
Lean

MEA

DEA

MDEA

DGA

0.35
0.1

0.4
0.07

0.45
0.01

0.4
0.07

Heat Stable Amine Salts


The most common symptoms of degradation of gas treating solutions are heat
stable amine salts (HSAS). Acids which are sufficiently stronger than H2S and
CO2 react with amine forming HSAS. These are thermally irreversible
reactions. The acid anions include acetic, formic, propionic, oxalic, cyanides
and thiosulfate.
HSAS reduces the capacity of the solution to absorb acid. They also increase
corrosion to some extent especially in the hot lean solution by increasing the
conductivity, lowering the pH and complexing with iron ions.
Normal amine solution make-up, thermal reclamation (only for DGA & MEA)
or intentional purging can control HSAS but poses a disposal problem. For
other amines, severe problems require vacuum distillation, ion exchange or
electrodialysis. Some plants also employ neutralization in-situ using sodium
hydroxide or carbonate but this has to be done carefully to avoid excesses that
can damage the protective iron sulfide scale and resultant high solids.

Page 14 of 19

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Next Planned Update: 10 April 2012

SABP-A-013
Corrosion Control in Amine Units

Contaminants:
Contaminants found in amine systems can be grouped into four categories which
are discussed below:
Insoluble Contaminants include charcoal from the amine filters, heavy
hydrocarbons from the feed gas, corrosion products, and catalyst carryover.
They generally cause fouling and foaming. Moderate amounts are removed by
mechanical and charcoal filtration of a 5 to 10% sidestream. Hydrocarbon mist
in the feed gas is removed by aerosol filters upstream of the amine unit. If
foaming still occurs, antifoams are added. For severe upsets, the unit may need
mechanical cleaning.
Make-up Water Contaminants When impure water is used, contaminants such
as sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, chloride, sulfate increase the low
conductivity of the lean amine which becomes corrosive. Chlorides can cause
cracking of stainless steels. Removal is accomplished by thermal reclaiming
(MEA & DGA), blowing down or the use of ion exchange/electrodialysis
(DEA, MDEA). Use of demineralized water or condensate is preferred.
Feed Gas Contaminants This includes oxygen, carbonyl sulfide and ammonia.
Oxygen oxidizes hydrogen sulfide and amines to form heat-stable thiosulfate
and carboxylic acids which require similar treatments to water contaminants for
removal. Carbonyl sulfide reaction products are removed in DGA reclaimers
and are reversible in DEA but not MEA. MDEA is not degraded by carbonyl
sulfide. Ammonia leads to ammonium bisulfide accumulation in the stripper
overhead necessitating purging or upstream removal (utilizing water wash). To
control oxygen ingress, consider nitrogen blanketing the storage tanks & amine
sumps.
Derived Contaminants These are solid corrosion products, oxygen products
(elemental sulfur, polysulfides, and carboxylic acids) and CO2 products such as
HEED (Hydroxyethyenediamine) with MEA, THEED (TrisHEED) with DEA,
Urea with DGA and Carbamate with MDEA. All these products can lead to
degradation or reduced capacity for gas absorption of the amine solutions if not
reclaimed or controlled.
Excessive Stripping:
If the lean amine loading is too low due to over stripping, the hydrogen sulfide
content in the lean amine solution gets too low (generally < 300ppmv) to keep
the protective iron sulfide film intact. This type of attack is more prevalent in
high CO2/H2S locations such as the reboiler bottoms and in MDEA units.

Page 15 of 19

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Next Planned Update: 10 April 2012

SABP-A-013
Corrosion Control in Amine Units

Corrosion Monitoring
8.1

Techniques
Coupons:
Retractable coupons can give reliable data under turbulent and laminar flow
conditions. Typical locations for installing coupons are in the high temperature
locations such as the reboiler feed line, lean/rich amine piping and stripper
overhead circuit. If corrosion is observed, coupons can also be used in the
outlets of the amine stripper, amine sump, feed gas drum, lean amine cooler and
the stripper reflux pump.
Generally, corrosion coupons are removed on a 6-12 month frequency or sooner
if high corrosion rates are observed either from past coupon/probe data or the
OSI analysis. Coupon data needs to be supplemented by inspection to confirm
the results.
Probes:
Probes offer the advantage of continuous data collection without the need for
frequent replacements. However, if there is pitting or turbulence such as in the
reboiler outlet line, the thin probe element used can fail by fatigue. Typical
locations for probes are rich amine piping from the absorber, the stripper lean
amine piping and the reflux/reboiler piping. Corrosion coupons can also be
installed at these locations for validation of probe readings and as a back-up.
Non-intrusive:
Recently non-intrusive corrosion monitoring technology has improved and
become more reliable to monitor corrosion in systems where intrusive
techniques cannot be used such as in high velocity locations, or high pressure
locations. Most of these technologies are currently under evaluation by Saudi
Aramco and are shown in the figure below.

8.2

Locations
The figure below shows the recommended locations and monitoring techniques.

Page 16 of 19

Document Responsibility: Materials & Corrosion Control


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Next Planned Update: 10 April 2012

SABP-A-013
Corrosion Control in Amine Units

Corrosion Monitoring Technique


1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12

Coupon
LPR
ER Probe
Micro-Cor
Ceion
SmartCET
Hydrogen Probe
FSM
Fox Tek
ClampOn
Electrochemical Noise
Multi-Array Sensor (MAS)

H2S to
Sulfur Plant
Sweet Gas
to Fuel

Regenerator
Overhead Cond.

Sweet Gas
K.O. Drum

Regenerator
Reflux
Drum

4 6 7 8 10

10 8

Amine
Cooler

Off
gas

Sour Gas
K.O. Drum

Amine
Regenerator
4
6

Amine
Absorber

46
Regenerator
Reboiler
Steam

8 10

Cond.
Rich Amine
Flash Drum

Rich/Lean
Exchanger

46
46

8.3

Inspection
Equipment
Visual inspection, random ultrasonic thickness (UT) and wet fluorescent
magnetic particle testing (WFMPT) are commonly used to check for localized
corrosion and environmental cracking. Vulnerable equipment include the
contactor bottom, stripper bottom, flash drum, feed gas filter separator, lean
cooler, reclaimers and reboilers. Other areas of concern are pump impellers in
lean/rich amine and reflux services.
Baseline readings need to cover four quadrants per API 570, para.5.5.2. Ensure
that the TMLs cover the full length of the equipment such as top head, nozzles,
shell (top, mid & bottom) and the bottom heads per SAEP 1135 and API 570.
Page 17 of 19

Document Responsibility: Materials & Corrosion Control


Issue Date: 11 April 2007
Next Planned Update: 10 April 2012

SABP-A-013
Corrosion Control in Amine Units

For the Lean/Rich Exchanger, Lean Solution Cooler, Overhead Condensers,


Stripper Reboilers and Side Coolers, inspect tube inside diameters by using
borescope, UT or advanced NDT techniques. For carbon steel tubes, consider
MFL (Magnetic Flux Leakage), LOTIS (Laser Optic Testing Inspection System)
and IRIS (Internal Rotary Inspection System) inspections while eddy current
testing can be used for stainless steel tube inspections.
Piping
Various techniques such as random ultrasonic thickness (UT), UT shear wave
(UTSW) of welds and radiography (RT) are used to detect metal loss, weld
preferential corrosion and fine cracking. The most vulnerable areas are piping
from the stripper to the lean amine cooler, regenerator to the reclaimer and
stripper to the reboilers and reflux drum. Due to the highly localized nature of
attack, the following is recommended if scattered low readings are found in the
circuit:

8.4

Re-verify the readings showing the low thickness measurements.

If still low, inspect using UT grid scanning, RT survey or P-scan as


applicable to establish the corrosion rate and profile. Note that high
temperature UT mapping or a T & I may be required if temperatures are >
140F.

Re-calculate the remaining life and apply SAEP-1135 to establish future


inspection frequency and extent.

Stream Analysis
Amine analysis is a vital part of the amine monitoring system Amine solution
analyses can also be used to monitor corrosion but should not be relied upon
exclusively. Generally certain analyses are performed on a routine basis for
process reasons. However, it is necessary to perform additional analysis from a
corrosion standpoint. The table below provides a summary of the analysis type,
frequencies and the preferred methodology.

Page 18 of 19

Document Responsibility: Materials & Corrosion Control


Issue Date: 11 April 2007
Next Planned Update: 10 April 2012

SABP-A-013
Corrosion Control in Amine Units

Variable
Amine strength

Location
Lean Amine
Rich Amine

Period
Daily
2 times /week

Color/Appearance

Lean Amine
Rich Amine
Lean Amine
Lean Amine

Daily
2 time /week
Daily
Daily

Lean Amine
Rich amine
Lean amine
Rich amine
Makeup
water
Lean amine
Rich amine
Reclaimer

Daily
1 time/week
1 time/week
1 time/week
1 time/week

< 5ppb

1 time/month

<2.5wt%as amine

Total Suspended
Solids
Total Dissolved
Solids

Rich amine
Lean amine
Rich amine
Lean amine

1 time/month
1 time/month
1 time/month
1 time/month

Rich<150 ppmw
Lean <70 ppmw
Rich <900
Lean<1100 ppmw

Iron

Rich Amine
Stripper
Ovhd. water
Lean amine

1 time/month
1 time/month

< 10 ppmw
< 1 ppmw

Colorimeter/ICP

1 time/month

< 500 ppmw

Dionex/Mettler

pH
Foaming

H2S ,
Mole/mole
CO2, ppmw
Oxygen content
HSAS

Chloride

Limit
MEA 20 wt%
DGA 50 wt%
DEA 30 wt%
MDEA50 wt%
Pale yellow/Light
Amber
9.5 minimum
< 60 mm height
< 30 sec break
time
-

Methodology
Acid-Base Titration

Visual
pH meter
Foaming Tendency

Potentiometer
Purging, then Acid-Base
Titration
Oxygen sensor
Capillary
Electrophoresis/Wet
Chemistry /Ion
Exchange
Millipore Filter
Evaporation/Conductivity
meter

Special samples from rich amine, lean amine, reclaimer and reflux drum may be
taken whenever there is a problem (sludge, blockage, fouling, foaming,
increased flow rate).
At least once a year, samples should be sent to the amine vendor for Finger Print
Analysis (detailed analysis) that includes standard parameters (described in table
above), physical properties (color, specific gravity, viscosity), HSAS, anion
analysis, cation analysis, metals analysis (Mn, Ni, Cr, Na, Cl), degradation
products, ATB (Actual Total Base), TB (Total Base), RFB (Regenerable Free
Base), soluble and free iron, iron solubility test and particle size distribution.
The vendor report should include any corrective measures.

11 April 2007

Revision Summary
New Saudi Aramco Basic Practice.

Page 19 of 19