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Thursday, September 10, 2009

Safety Requirements Guide for Plant and Equipment

The hydrocarbon processing units are broadly classified as
  1. the crude oil production & processing facilities
  2. the refining, storage & transportation facilities
  3. refined hydrocarbon product processing to more valued products & chemicals. Usually all these processing units will broadly consist of all or majority of the following plant groups:
  • Crude oil/refined product receiving pipe manifolds
  • Storage (crude/product)
  • Process Units
  • Dispatch facility/Loading Racks
  • Safety & fire Protective System
  • Waste water treatment facility
  • Operation/Service Building (control rooms, DG Set, Sub-station, storage, etc.)

The plant & equipment layouts of such unit are guided by the urge of utmost safety against fire so that in event of fire in any of the block of the unit, the neighboring block remains safe & risk to the units & personal are the minimum. The plant layout arrangement can follow the general flow route with an eye on utilizing the block layout providing the storage thanks on one side (located down wind direction from the process units), process units on another & utilities segregated at a suitable separate safe relative position. The entire plant area should be subdivided into block with in plant roadways separating the blocks to provide fire breaks & giving proper access to the plant in the event of fire for fire fighting. The plant boundary should be considered as a source of ignition from outside, hence so critical facility & process units should be placed close to that reliable unobstructed approach is available during construction, maintenance & fire fighting. Road width should be adequately sized with proper turning radii at road junction for vehicle & equipment movements without speed restriction in event of emergency.

Critical plant elements & special process units, flares, utility plants & control rooms should all have maximum protection through provision of proper spacing, location & accessibility. Utilities should be protected & should be available during emergency conditions. High density personnel area like control & operators room must be located away from the hazardous process & storage area.

Based on the experiences, feed-back from the safe operating units & guidelines circulated by different agencies like API (American Petroleum Institute), SFPE (Society of Fire Protection Engineers, USA), NFPA (National Fire Protection Association, USA), Institute of Petroleum, UK, Bureau of Indian Standards, Tariff Advisory Committee (TAC, India), Directorate general of Mines Safety (as applicable for ONGC/Oil India Ltd.). OIDB and other national regulatory agencies like Chief Controller of Explosives (Static & Mobile pressure Vessels – Unfired Rules 1981), an attempt has been made to evolve broad guidelines for reasonably safe and acceptable plot-plan & equipment layout and fire – fighting system layout.

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