Protective Coatings for Offshore Oil and Gas


The Status Quo in Offshore Coating Systems

The offshore oil and gas industry has experienced rapid growth for years. As more offshore structures are planned, manufactured, and built, it is critical to ensure their longevity despite operating in some of the harshest conditions for steel structures in the world.

To protect these precious assets, many companies turn to protective coatings which meet the ISO 12944-9 standard. From the ISO website, the abstract on standard 12944-9 notes the following:

“ISO 12944-9:2018 specifies the performance requirements for protective paint systems for offshore and related structures (i.e. those exposed to the marine atmosphere, as well as those immersed in sea or brackish water). Such structures are exposed to environments of corrosively category CX (offshore) and immersion category Im4 as defined in ISO 129442.”

Most modern offshore coating systems simply satisfy the ISO 12944-9 standard, including:

  • Thermal Sprayed Aluminum Offshore Coating Systems
  • Three-Coat, Zinc-Rich Systems
  • Non-Zinc-Based Offshore Coating Systems

While the ISO 12944-9 standard is a great goalpost to meet, many protective coatings that adhere to it still leave room to be desired in terms of performance.

Thermal Sprayed Aluminum Protective Coatings

Thermal sprayed aluminum (TSA) protective coating systems have long been utilized in the offshore industry. The application of these TSA coatings involves spraying a thick, cohesive layer of aluminum onto a metal substrate, then sealing it with an epoxy topcoat. While this method can offer long-lasting protection for oil and gas structures in an offshore setting, there are two disadvantages of TSA coating systems that serve as barriers to completion: material cost, and application method.

Thermal spraying is a process which involves a very high up-front capital investment, but not where one might think. The equipment required for TSA is relatively inexpensive; however, the operation cost quickly goes up as more aluminum is used. The process requires extensive surface preparation work to ensure coating adhesion and highly skilled labor in order to achieve effective results. The majority of the costs for this process present themselves in the form of compounding material costs and investment in skilled applicators.

Although quick, the application process is nowhere near foolproof- meaning that there’s a high chance that the coveted longevity of this coating may not hold up to customer expectations.

To put it plainly, TSA offshore coating systems can quickly become expensive and leave too much room for error throughout the application process. While TSA systems were once the only solution for offshore oil and gas protective coatings, they have since become outdated and outclassed.

Three-Step, Zinc-Rich Coating Systems

The protective coatings of today typically hold a different composition: one of a base coat for adhesion, a zinc-rich epoxy layer for cathodic protection, and an epoxy topcoat to act as a sealant. However, this method is not exactly well-suited to the harsh conditions of offshore oil and gas operations.

While zinc does prevent corrosion by providing cathodic protection to steel substrates, it substantially weakens the cohesion and abrasion resistance of the epoxy film. Rather than remaining suspended throughout the film, zinc particles tend to gather together and create weak points in the epoxy coating with a high potential for failure.

While these systems take less time to apply, use simple application methods, and require far less skilled labor when compared to TSA offshore coating systems, they can still take days to apply for a result that isn’t guaranteed to last.

Non-Zinc-Based Offshore Coating Systems

One alternative to three-step protective coatings is a non-zinc-based two-coat system. These protective coatings are a bit better for offshore applications, since they substitute dense zinc for a finer aluminum pigment. This allows the epoxy to better retain its strength, but it comes at the expense of requiring additional cathodic protection for steel substrates.

Unlike traditional zinc-rich coatings, the amount of coats needed for this type of system is reduced to just two: an aluminum pigment-infused epoxy base, and an epoxy topcoat.

Additionally, non-zinc-based coatings are quite simple to apply, eliminating the costs of highly skilled labor and specialized equipment. However, these protective coatings still leave much room for improvement.

To put it one way, there’s satisfying standards; and then there’s exceeding them.

Beyond ISO 12944-9: TESLAN Offshore Coating Systems

When it comes to offshore coating systems, there’s no protective coating on today’s market that will outperform TESLAN.

TESLAN is the world’s only zinc-rich coating that channels the unbeatable strength of carbon nanotubes (CNTs). Its high wear resistance and effective cathodic protection make TESLAN the top choice for offshore oil and gas operations across the globe. TESLAN synthesizes the best qualities of other protective coatings to provide wear resistance, cathodic protection, easy application, and a rapid ROI.

What sets TESLAN offshore coating systems apart are their use of the latest in CNT technology. While CNTs have been proven to possess incredible strength in laboratory tests and demonstrations, Tesla NanoCoatings is the first company to ever bring CNTs outside of the lab and employ the revolutionary technology in a real-world application.

This makes the quick and easy application of TESLAN offshore coating systems all the more worthwhile. While other offshore coating systems can take multiple visits to apply even with specialized equipment, TESLAN’s two-coat system can be applied in just one visit with any common spray, brush, or roller tool.

Offshore asset owners and applicators alike can benefit from Tesla NanoCoatings’ patented WET EDGE 2×1 wet-on-wet process. This process allows a topcoat to be applied just shortly after the base coat has been applied- before it has even finished drying. This drastically reduces downtime, which is where many customers see the biggest ROI.

When it comes time to install your next protective coating, remember that you could be saving precious downtime with TESLAN, the most effective solution for offshore coating systems.

To learn more about the technologies that define Tesla NanoCoatings, visit our About Page. If you’re interested in utilizing our quick coatings in your offshore, marine, or midstream operations, contact us today.