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Avoid Casing Pipe for better Corrosion Protection and


Anup Kumar Bishayee


Using of casing pipe over the carrier pipe is long standing at a crossing of
roadway, railroad for transportation of fluid through pipeline. This allows not
only an extra strength to the carrier but also facilitate replacement of carrier
when required. With constant evolution of the technology a fact confront with
the aged conception of using casing that the Cathodic Protection, a system
which opposes corrosion in underground steel pipe, resisted at casing. In view
of corrosion engineering the casing pipe creates a shielding to the carrier and
the Corrosion current affects carrier pipe in a significant manner. Now-a-days
a various methods develop to protect pipeline from external damages and
using those techniques pipeline can be strengthening without using casing. It
is very difficult and much costlier to assess a cased pipeline over an uncased
pipeline. This evolution raise an argument, if an uncased pipeline crossing
meets the entire requirement then why goes with casing, where more cost
involvement, more technicalities, more difficulty to maintain involve? Pipeline
operators, investors, contractors and corrosion engineers are trying to array
their logic to resolve this argument.


Anup Kumar Bishayee, SCC, DEE, B. Tech. (Electrical), engaged since
1996 with High Pressure Gas Transmission pipeline construction
department of Greater Calcutta Gas Supply Corporation Limited, a State
Owned organization. He took part in a number of successful pipeline
projects conducted by the corporation. Sri Bishayee is Assistant
Secretary of Indian Institute of Gas Engineers. “Coal Bed Methane
Product Water” and “LPG Reticulate System” are his two publications
published in the International Seminar of IIGE and in the National
Seminar of Institute of Engineers (India) respectively in the year 2004.

Avoid Casing Pipe for better Corrosion Protection and Economy

“Cased pipeline crossings pose particular challenges, not only because the carrier pipes within the
casings are vulnerable to corrosion, but because assessments are hampered by the difficulty and
high cost of accessing these pipelines compared to those that are not cased.” – Tony Keane,
Executive Director, NACE International.

Casings have historically been used at road and railroad crossings to accommodate higher dead
loads (overburden for deep pipe) and live loads (traffic). They also help to protect from third-party
damage of the pipeline. The legacy reasoning was to provide the capability to remove or replace
the carrier pipe without disturbing the roadway or railroad. In actual practice, this is not widely
attempted. Greater strength or wall thickness, concrete coatings and other methods provide
protection to the pipe from mechanical damage from the external load. Higher depth may also
obtain by Horizontal Directional Drilling (HDD) technique.

Advantages of Cased crossing:

1. Mechanical protection for carrier pipe from external live and dead loads.
2. Future removal and replacement of carrier pipe.
3. Frost-line insulation from transported commodity in temperature sensitive soil.
4. Sub base and crossing protection in the event of a carrier pipe leak.
5. Protection from third party damage.

Disadvantages of Cased crossing:

1. Higher cost to owner due to the following requirement:
 Larger bore-hole for casing
 Two installations (one for casing and one for carrier pipe)
 Insulators and spacers between carrier and casing pipe
 End seals
 Installations and maintenance of casing vents

 Annular space grouting
2. Potential shielding of pipeline Cathodic Protection system.
3. Potential shorting of pipeline Cathodic protection system.
4. Potential exposure of carrier pipe to corrosive atmosphere due to condensation inside

Threat towards Insulation:

It is necessary that the casing pipe should be electrically insulated from the carrier pipe for
adequate cathodic protection of the latter. The carrier pipe to soil potential should differs with the
casing pipe to soil potential is a qualitative indication of satisfactory insulation between the two
pipes. If both the potentials indicate same and varying similarly as the varying impressed potential,
a short circuit is indicated.

The short circuit between carrier and casing pipe diverts cathodic protection current from its
intended path by involving a metallic shield over the carrier. Cathodic protection current then is
able to flow straight through the casing walls to those portions of the carrier pipe in contact with
any electrolyte inside the casing. Natural earth movements caused by freeze/thaw, heating/cooling
and wetting/drying, settlement due to construction of the crossing along with liquid temperature
cycles within the pipeline and superimposed load cycles from trains, cause the pipe and casing to
move differentially. These movements over time, despite the best efforts to insulate them from
each other, often cause the pipe and casing to touch one another causing a short. This short
grounds the cathodic protection system and eliminates the protection, allowing the pipe to corrode.
In extreme cases this differential movement can cause significant stress on the carrier pipe at the
casing end. While it would seem easy to say; when it shorts fix it, the problem is that some shorts
are intermittent, may be in the middle of a crossing, are difficult to excavate and combined with
the fact that there are hundreds of thousands of pipeline casings you begin to understand the

In many cases a pipeline casing is sealed at each ends to prevent groundwater infiltration or flow.
When equipped with required vents, the casing will contain water after a period of time because
the pipeline will be relatively cold and will condense moisture from the air. This presents a
problem of atmospheric corrosion that the cathodic protection will not contend with.

The reason that the cathodic protection system is ineffective within a casing is that the metal
casing pipe shields the carrier pipe from the protecting cathodic protection current. Also because of
the casing, determining what the status of the pipeline within the casing is difficult to conclude
without running a smart pig, which may or may not be possible due to the pipeline’s design.

The status of insulation at cased crossing should be measured at each annual survey. If it is not
possible to keep it insulated, steps should be taken to eliminate the conditions conductive to
corrosion on the carrier pipe within the casing. Filling the annular space between casing and the
carrier pipe with casing compound (greases containing chemical inhibitors) or unrefined petroleum
(low in sulfur content) will stifle any corrosion tendency.

Threat towards Coating:

Acidic and near neutral pH environments that develop under disbonded shielding pipeline coatings
can lead to corrosion and possibly environmentally assisted cracking. One may realize, however,
that as the coating deteriorates and as its permeability to O2 increases, the corrosion rate deep in
the crevice (or in the blister) could become substantial as CP is shielded there. Generally, any
changes in the properties of a coating are considered as a coating failure. Soil stress and other
mechanical damage can also create serious disbondment problems with pipeline coatings. Damage
of the coating due to these stresses may lead to pipeline corrosion failure and costly repair.

In the cased piping the fail-safe technology of coating may apply which allows higher CP current
and higher protection also. The geo-textile mesh-backed (GTMB) tape system of Fusion bond
Epoxy (FBE) system is the fail-safe coating system where the electro-chemical reaction at the
cathode surface cause the electrolyte to become more alkaline (Higher pH value about 0.9) around
the cathode and will reduce or stop corrosion.

Key Challenges:
The key challenge in assessing cased pipelines is that the Direct Assessment (DA) method to
determine the condition of pipeline with respect to External Corrosion, Internal Corrosion and
Stress Corrosion Cracking, are not effective if there is no electrical path. But even if an electrolyte
is introduced into the annulus, the casing acts as a shield, precluding meaningful results about the
level of cathodic protection or coating condition. This is a very significant issue against cased
crossing because DA is an indispensable tool for pipeline assessment that cannot be assessed by
Hydro testing or In-line Inspection (ILI).

Because the pipeline will be in atmospheric and immersion service where the coating is not only
the first line of defense but sometimes is the only line of defense.

The design, installation, maintenance, repair and monitoring should be conforming API RP 1102,
NACE SP0200, hydro testing, ILI should conforming ASME B31.8S and API Standard 1163.
NACE SP0502 conforms the External Corrosion Direct Assessment (ECDA) method.

Recent and historical results have shown that cased pipeline present a very low but not negligible
risk of corrosion failure. The cost associated with assessing cased pipeline is far outweighing the
cost of assessing uncased pipeline when the risk of corrosion is often lower. Though the cased
pipeline have been safely in service for many decades, but considering its additional design and
construction cost, additional maintenance and assessing cost and moreover considering the
additional loads on Cathodic protection system, casing should simply be avoided. In some
conditions where casing could not be avoided due to low depth, local regulations etc., the use of
the latest standards and technologies, especially regarding the coating system of the carrier pipe
must be followed.


1. Cathodic Protection by A.W. Peabody

2. ASCE Manuals and Reports on Engineering Practice
3. “Coating used in conjunction with Cathodic Protection”- Technical Committee
report, NACE International Publication, 6A100, July 2000.
4. “Protecting pipelines at crossing: are casing obsolete?”- Discussions with a panel of
NACE International experts.