In the Oil & Gas industry, key asset failure can have significant consequences that reach far beyond a loss in production. Element’s failure analysis experts help you to understand the causes of asset failure, advise on remedial action and support you in any potential litigation you may face.


Root cause analysis for the Oil & Gas industry

Our failure analysis services are delivered by highly qualified metallurgists, chemists, materials scientists, engineers, and technicians. We are experts in detailed failure analysis of assets in the oil & gas industry. Such as analysis of pipelines, drilling equipment, pumps, valves, and seals from material defects, fracture, errant heat treatments, overloading, fatigue, corrosion, embrittlement, and environmental damage. 

Should a failure affect your infrastructure, our experts will work with you to determine the root cause of the failure and provide you with detailed insights and recommendations to prevent the failure from occurring again, regardless of its original cause.


Why Choose Element?

Our experience covers a wide range of metallic and non-metallic materials and uses an extensive range of proven failure analysis techniques and applications. Our materials expertise covers wrought, cast and powder metals, cast irons, steels, aluminium, nickel, titanium, copper, magnesium, molybdenum, carbon steel, polymers, rubbers, elastomers, and composites. 

The unique combination of our expertise in materials selection and application, manufacturing processes, fracture mechanics, and the impact of service environment can have on a material or product, that enables Element to rapidly deliver comprehensive answers to services’ failures and provide practical resolutions to future manufacturing challenges.

For more information about our failure analysis services or to request a quote, contact us today.

Materials fail for different reasons, but they fracture by four principal modes: fatigue, cleavage, dimple rupture, and decohesive rupture. Each of these modes has its own characteristic fracture appearance.

  1. Fatigue fracture is the result of repetitive loading. Crack(s) initiates in Stage I, propagates in Stage II, and reaches catastrophic fracture including separation in Stage III. Fatigue striations observed generally in high cycle fatigue align perpendicular to crack propagation direction.
  2. Cleavage is a low-energy fracture that is completely flat and featureless. River patterns, feather markings, and chevron patterns are some of the features observed in cleavage mode of fracture.
  3. Dimple rupture is the mode of fracture when an overload is the principal cause of failure. Microvoid coalescence is the characteristic feature observed in dimple rupture.
  4. Decohesive rupture occurs with little plastic deformation and involves weakening of the atomic bonds. Hydrogen embrittlement, stress corrosion cracking, and creep are some of the examples of decohesive rupture.
Element's experts employ a wide variety of fractography analysis services to determine the failure causes of parts, products, and engineering structures.

A material's composition affects everything about it—how long it lasts, how strong or flexible it is, how it’s packaged, etc. Investigative Chemistry is based on the idea that materials questions can be answered by examining the processes, components, and chemical reactions involved.

Element’s investigative chemists possess a unique range of experience in consulting, analytical testing, and industrial chemistry. Whether routine QA/QC assistance, material verification, or elemental analysis - or nonroutine projects such as product deformulation, identification of unknown materials, or the analysis of a failed part or product - we are prepared to work with you to explore solutions. Element serves the testing needs of all types of industries and government agencies.

Element performs testing and evaluation using the following techniques and onsite specialized equipment: 

Mysterious stains or discolorations, unidentified residues or deposits, or evidence of corrosion on the surface of a part - those are often difficult and costly problems to solve.

Element residue analysis experts are trained in techniques that can help you determine the nature of the beast and get to the bottom of unknown substances that can have a detrimental effect on your parts or products. Our Engaged Experts use a combination of analysis techniques to characterize various types of residues. SEM/EDS (Scanning Electron Microscopy with Energy Dispersive X-Ray Spectroscopy) analysis is used to determine the elemental composition of the residue, with XRD (X-Ray Diffraction) sometimes used to identify specific compounds present. FTIR (Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy) is also sometimes used when residues appear to exhibit high levels of carbon or other low energy elements or are too thin to accurately analyze with the SEM/EDS system. 

When a more in-depth analysis is requested or required, a combination of stereomicroscopy, SEM analysis, and metallurgical examination is used to characterize the residue as being on top of the surface (a deposit or stain) or being beneath the surface (a corrosion product or inclusion within material).


Polymeric materials such as elastomers, thermoplastics, and composites are widely used in oilfield equipment deployed by oil & gas companies across the world.

In the case of elastomeric (rubber) seals, exposure in service to aggressive treatment chemicals and/or elevated temperatures and pressures can chemically and/or mechanically degrade the parts, resulting in irreversible change, performance deterioration, and eventual functional failure of the component. The challenge is therefore to determine the root cause of failure so that preventative and corrective actions can be implemented to ensure that it does not happen again. Element has been involved in providing failure analysis services on upstream, midstream, and downstream applications including:
  • Pumps and valves (ball, butterfly, pressure relief, bonnet, flow control)
  • Hoses (bunker, choke/kill, sampling, diesel & potable water transfer, umbilical)
  • Drilling and production equipment (compressors, plate heat exchangers, packers, BOP, subsea and surface test trees, liner hangers, well tractors, swivels)
  • Pipelines for natural gas and chemical processing (coatings, liners)
Our proven failure analysis approach is to develop a thorough understanding of the failed component’s service environment by working with our clients to gather relevant data from the field, such as 
  • Component location and function (engineering drawings)
  • Material type and grade (datasheet, part label)
  • Service conditions (fluids, temperature, pressure, duration)
  • Design conditions (temperature, pressure, static/dynamic)
  • Previous issues with this or similar components
Our tried and tested failure analysis techniques include:
  • Forensic inspection and cataloging of the damaged component (microscopes, SEM)
  • Component measurement (dimensions)
  • Material characterization (hardness, density, mechanical)
  • Material/fluid type analysis (FTIR, NMR, GC-MS, TGA, DSC, XRD)
  • Material-fluid compatibility assessment (fluid exposure vessels; ovens)
  • Machining to facilitate inspection and extract test specimens (lathes, saws, CNC)

Legal and insurance firms need expert witnesses to provide testimony with a high level of service, precision and expertise. Through our team of Engaged Experts, Element offers materials science and engineering litigation services to a wide range of industries, including aerospace, product manufacturing, biomedical and medical devices, automotive, oil & gas, construction, and more.

Element scientists and engineers possess many years of experience, advanced degrees, and certifications in many sub-disciplines including Materials Science & Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Polymer Science, Metallurgical Engineering, Welding, and Corrosion. To support our legal and insurance investigations, our laboratories use highly advanced analytical instrumentation, such as state-of-the-art Scanning Electron Microscopes (SEM) equipped with ultrathin window Energy Dispersive X-ray Spectroscopy (EDS) systems, Differential Scanning Calorimetry (DSC), and Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR) for molecular analysis. We have established chain-of-evidence procedures and locked legal storage to properly handle evidence in accordance with established standards (e.g., ASTM standard practices E860, E1188, and E1492).

We specialize in:

  • Detecting defects or evidence of abuse
  • Determining physical, mechanical, or chemical properties of materials
  • Assisting with subrogation claims
  • Developing precision evidence analysis protocols
  • Determining specification compliance
  • Evaluating patent infringement
  • Responding to Daubert challenge
  • Delivering detailed and convincing deposition and trial testimony
  • Advanced instrumentation and qualified expertise
We serve individual or groups of legal and insurance customers, including joint plaintiff and defendant investigations for litigating parties. Our engineers also coordinate testing with other outside engineering expert, testing, and support firms.

Failure Analysis in the Oil and Gas Industry

This on-demand webinar provides real-life case studies and gives answers to questions, including what causes a component to fail? How do I conduct a failure investigation, and how can I prevent failure from occurring?

Read More

Webinar: Criticality of Failure Analysis in the Energy Industry

Element’s experts for Failure Analysis in the Energy industry explain during the on-demand webinar how Failure Analysis is being performed, and its benefits by providing real-life case studies from around the world. 

Read More

Failure Analysis of Pipeline Coatings

This free white paper includes an extensive case study of the failure analysis of a 12-inch diameter Fusion Bonded Epoxy (FBE) coated steel pipe that showed blistering of the coating and corrosion on the surface.

Read More

Our team of over 9,000 Engaged Experts in North America, Europe, The Middle East, Australia, Asia and Africa are ready to help you.