Oil & Gas Decommissioning: The Unseen Safety Risks (And Solutions)
For many professionals in the oil and gas sector, platform decommissioning is a type of project they’ll find themselves working on sooner or later during their career. Everyone in the industry should, therefore, be aware of an essential fact about decommissioning: the safety risks for operatives can go well beyond the obvious. That’s why we’ve […]
For many professionals in the oil and gas sector, platform decommissioning is a type of project they’ll find themselves working on sooner or later during their career.
Everyone in the industry should, therefore, be aware of an essential fact about decommissioning: the safety risks for operatives can go well beyond the obvious.
That’s why we’ve compiled an essential overview of the dangers every project should mitigate plus some equipment recommendations to help with this task.
OIL & GAS DECOMMISSIONING: UNDERSTANDING THE RISKS
The reasons why so many risks exist during decommissioning are extremely simple:
1, The very large variety of on-site activities needed to complete a project: This can include physical and radiological characterisation, facility and site decontamination, dismantling, materials management and more.
2, The presence of fire and explosion risk during many of the activities: This can include a large number of less obvious, but very real, risks we’ll explore below.
It’s no coincidence that oil and gas decommissioning offshore is covered by UK law and overseen in the US through the terms of any drill permits issued. Legal obligations are also likely to exist in territories worldwide where offshore activity is taking place.
In the case of the UK, the decommissioning of offshore oil and gas installations and pipelines on the United Kingdom Continental Shelf (UKCS) is controlled through the Petroleum Act 1998.
The legislation demands that every project:
1, Identifies all equipment, infrastructure and materials.
2, Describes how each will be decommissioned.
Supervising this legal requirement falls to the Offshore Petroleum Regulator for Environment and Decommissioning (OPRED), which sits within a UK Government department.
As opposed to examining the ‘equipment, infrastructure and materials’ decommissioning can involve, let’s focus on some of the risk factors with the potential to cause a fire or explosion during the decommissioning process:
- Friction or impact.
- Ignition by flame, spark or heat.
- Electrostatic discharge.
- Ignition of solvent vapour or dust.
- Explosive materials in confined spaces.
- Presence of explosive material in operational drains, in redundant equipment or process pipelines and in ducts.
- Existing ‘human errors’ such as poor maintenance, previous inadequate removal of explosive materials, poor control of equipment and lack of historic information on the previous use of old facilities.
- Decommissioning project errors including inadequate procedures, lack of operative knowledge of the presence (or properties) of explosive materials and inadequate marking/control of plant or buildings requiring treatment outside the process area.
It’s clear that a combination of factors already existing on a platform combined with risks caused by a poor approach to decommissioning can create a large number of fire or explosion hazards.
OIL & GAS DECOMMISSIONING: MITIGATING THE RISKS
As with any oil and gas sector project, the risk assessment stage is a crucial period for identifying and reducing the danger of fire or explosion caused by decommissioning activities on-site.
A comprehensive risk assessment for decommissioning work will often include mitigations focussing on three areas:
1, Training: Including competence in working on sites where explosives, and the need for a response to explosives, may be encountered.
2, On-site behaviours and policies: Such as ongoing vigilance and the procedures to follow if the circumstances or risks change, avoidance of any equipment likely to cause an ignition risk and proper control of working areas to exclude non-essential workers.
3, Equipment: Extreme care, and experienced expertise applied or sought, is essential when choosing the type of equipment selected for operatives. The reason for this is simply because equipment choice can have an implication for those using the equipment on-site.
Because the right choice of oil and gas decommissioning equipment can have a substantial impact on the safety and efficiency of activities on the platform itself, we’ve included some tried and tested recommendations for high-performance heat, light, air and power products.
PROVEN EQUIPMENT FOR OIL & GAS DECOMMISSIONING
Our specialists often refer to both the ‘safety’ and ‘efficiency’ benefits of equipment as interconnected features for one simple reason: less time spent in a risk area equals less risk.
A number of SA Equip products in use on oil and gas platforms across the world are purpose-made for exactly this balance of safety and efficiency.
Each hazardous area certified product is designed in the UK to be portable as well as exceptionally user-friendly, durable and reliable.
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED EQUIPMENT FOR OIL AND GAS DECOMMISSIONING INCLUDES:
|1, Safe and efficient lighting: Among the SA Equip ATEX and IECEX lighting products available, the SA LUMIN EX LED Worklight 100 is popular for decommissioning tasks thanks to its linkable design and combination of just 1.8kg of weight and 29 watts of power at 110v with the delivery of up to 2,850 lumens of 180° light. The SA LUMIN EX LED Worklight 200 offers 360° of output at up to 4,000 lumens.|
|2, Safe and efficient ventilation: In particular, the SA CYCLONE EX Air Mover was created for safe and reliable extraction of dangerous vapours in hazardous environments. A maximum airflow of 5179 m3/hr is matched with flexible anti-static ducting to create a smooth, safe and reliable rig.|
|3, Safe and efficient power: Oil and gas sector professionals worldwide rely on the SA POWERNET 3.8KVA PNLT Transformer due to its extreme durability and ease of use. Weighing in at under 100kgs and developed to fit two on a Euro pallet, this unit is highly compact.|
But why choose SA Equip? Simply because SA Equip already helps clients across the world to achieve optimal lighting, heat and ventilation results in challenging environments. An in-house product development team can even devise a bespoke solution.
Most of all, SA Equip brings almost 100 years of pacesetting service and knowledge – with a foundation in the most extreme shipping and oil industry environments – to customers across heavy industry, aerospace, defence, utilities, pharmaceuticals, distilling, power stations and more.