The Oil & Gas Industry often requires employees to operate in hazardous locations. In areas where flammable liquids, gases or vapours or combustible dusts exist in sufficient quantities, safety is the priority. Ensuring operators are continually aware of – and protected from – surrounding dangers is critical.
Refineries, plants and offshore facilities are constantly exposed to flammable substances. To combat the high potential for ignition, manufacturers must produce and rigorously test explosion proof assets.
What is explosion proofing?
When designing and installing products for use in the Oil & Gas Industry today, protection criteria exists that must be met by every component. Equipment needs to be installed with an explosion proof enclosure or casing: housings to contain the ignition and prevent it from spreading to the open atmosphere.
While not built to withstand an exterior explosion, explosion proof equipment prevents an internal spark or explosion from creating and spreading a larger blast. The housing prevents sparks within the enclosure from igniting vapours, gases, dust or fibres in the surrounding air.
The key to ignition
There are several reasons why an explosion could happen during everyday oil extraction. One is when an ignition source is introduced into an explosive or flammable environment, while another cause is Hydrocarbon Releases (HCR). These gas leaks occur when there is a sudden release of gas under pressure and they are a key hazard management issue for the UK offshore Oil & Gas Industry. There were 104 cases of HCR releases in the UK during 2016 alone.
Explosion proofing has two requirements in the Oil & Gas Industry: equipment must be built to the right standards and then installed and maintained in line with further standards.
However, the certification process is different depending on which part of the world products and components were designed and installed. In Europe, ATEX covers issues related to design and manufacture until the product is placed on the market. From there, the IECEx Product Certification Scheme handles the manufacture of equipment while two other IECEx certification schemes cover the installation, maintenance, inspection and repair of the equipment in service.
Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan combine ATEX standards with TR CU standards. However North America manages certification completely differently – FM (Factory Mutual) and UL (Underwriters Laboratories) provide standards, testing and certification in the US while CSA (the Canadian Standard Association) does the same for Canada. Understanding the region and what standards apply to equipment in that area is key to supplying safe and effective explosion proof equipment.
Safety and accuracy
Fluenta’s FGM 160 – an ultrasonic flare gas meter – is frequently installed in hostile environments across the globe. As the meter must accurately measure and monitor flare gas flow, it is continuously exposed to hazardous areas that are at risk of explosion.
All Fluenta products are certified explosion proof and equipment is expertly tested to ensure no substances ignite when in-flow. For more information on Fluenta’s FGM 160, click here.