These days, in-line inspections based on the magnetic flux leakage (MFL) principle are routinely used to detect and size metal loss and mechanical anomalies in operating oil and gas pipelines. One of the characteristics of the MFL technology is that after the inspection, the pipeline wall shows a remanent magnetization. In this work, the influence of the magnetic field on pitting corrosion in pipeline steel is studied. Pitting corrosion experiments have been carried out on samples of an API 5L grade 52 steel under a magnetization level of the same order of magnitude of the remanent magnetization in the pipeline wall after the MFL inspection. The samples were magnetized using rings of the investigated steel. The closed magnetic circuit configuration used in this study survey guaranteed that the samples kept the same magnetization level during the complete duration of the conducted experiments. This experimental setup was used in order to reproduce the conditions observed in MFL-inspected pipelines in which the magnetic field was confined to the pipe wall thickness. Immediately after magnetization, the investigated samples were subjected to pitting by immersing them in a solution with dissolved Cl and SO42− ions. The pitting experiments were conducted for exposure times of 7 days. Non-magnetized specimens were used as control samples. The depths of the pits induced in the investigated samples were measured using optical microscopy. The maximum pit depth of each sample was recorded and used to conduct extreme value analysis of the pitting process in the magnetized and non-magnetized specimens. The results of this investigation indicate that the magnetic field confined within the pipeline wall has a significant influence on the pitting corrosion process. The statistical assessment of the pitting corrosion data collected during this study shows that the magnetic field reduces the average depth of the pit population. It also reduces the extreme pit depth values that can be predicted from the maximum values observed in the magnetized samples, with respect to the non-magnetized control samples. Scanning electron microscopy observations show that the magnetic field alters the pit morphology by increasing the pit opening (mouth). It is shown that the observed reduction in the pit depth when a magnetic field is confined to the volume of the corroding material can be explained based on the behavior of the paramagnetic corrosion products under the influence of the local magnetic field gradients produced inside and within the immediate vicinity of stable pits.

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