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A major US Gulf Coast refiner wanted to increase the amount of high acid crude processed to improve the refinery’s profitability. Typically, as crude oil TAN levels are increased, the risk profile for high-temperature naphthenic acid corrosion increases within the crude unit. Higher amounts of naphthenic acids can lead to higher rates of corrosion in the desalted crude oil, diesel, gas oil, and bottoms circuits—negatively impacting unit reliability and performance. The existing naphthenic acid corrosion program relied on a traditional industry-standard phosphorusbased inhibitor.

As TAN levels increased, the refiner became increasingly concerned about the growing amount of phosphorus in their gas oil circuits. Reactor bed data suggested that, as the dosage of the traditional inhibitor was increased to maintain acceptable corrosion control, the increased level of phosphorous in the gas oil was negatively impacting downstream catalyst activity. Since the refiner wanted to continue to process the discounted high acid crude, Baker Hughes, a GE company (BHGE), offered an alternative corrosion inhibitor solution with lowphosphorous concentrations.

First, the BHGE team conducted a SMARTGUARD™ naphthenic acid corrosion risk assessment study to understand the impact of the increased crude TAN on the crude unit’s corrosion potential. Then, based on those findings, the team implemented a new low-phosphorous SMARTGUARD naphthenic acid corrosion inhibitor program into the light vacuum gas oil (LVGO) and heavy gas oil (HVGO) circuits to provide corrosion protection for the high TAN circuits and reduce the impact of phosphorus on the downstream catalyst.

Download the PDF to read the full case study.

Challenges & Results


  • Maintain 100% corrosion rate KPI compliance with HVGO TAN levels up to 2.0 mg KOH/g
  • Reduce phosphorus levels in hydrocracker feed streams by a minimum of 50%


  • Achieved 100% corrosion rate KPI compliance of < 5 mpy with new inhibitor treatment
  • Reduced phosphorus levels in treated streams by > 50%
  • Reduced rate of catalyst activity loss in downstream reactor beds