Buried pipelines can be subject to transitional environments due to changes in soil type or moisture content. Changes in the height of the water table, for example, will affect not only the availability of water but also the access of oxygen to the pipe surface. Transitions between different soil types will also result in different exposure conditions for different parts of the pipe. These variations can affect the distribution of potential on the pipe surface and the ability of the CP system to provide adequate protection. A combination of laboratory-scale soil box tests and field measurements on operating pipelines has been used to study the effect of varying moisture content and water level on the level of cathodic protection and on pipe-depth environmental conditions. In both laboratory tests and field trials, the degree of protection was found to depend on the availability of cathodic reactants (O2 and/or H2O). Ingress of O2 results in a positive shift in potential as more current is required to electrochemically reduce the oxidant and the pipe is less easily polarized. Under some circumstances, the ingress of water has the same effect. Although more aerobic conditions lead to more positive potentials, the pipe is not necessarily less well protected. In many dry and/or high resistivity soils, the pipe surface may well be passive because of the high interfacial pH and/or high O2 concentration.

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