How HVAC can maintain safety on board of oil & gas installations

05/02/2014
Safety is the number one factor on board oil & gas installations. A good HVAC design can play a vital role in improving safety.

How HVAC can maintain safety on board of oil & gas installations

Safety is the number one factor on board oil & gas installations. A good HVAC design can play a vital role in improving safety by

  • providing good thermal conditions for crew. Poor indoor air quality can cause various symptoms; headache, itchy and dry skin, cough, throat irritation, stuffy and runny nose, eye irritation, allergy, asthma, fatigue etc. They can all cause problems in vigilance which can lead to safety risk.
  • protecting crew against hazards in the production process

A good HVAC design does not add any additional hazards to the process. It is easy to maintain, contributes to energy efficiency, safety and good indoor environment conditions.

Good indoor environment conditions

The technology developed during the last 10 years has enabled companies to operate in more extreme conditions than ever before. The same trend is expected to continue in the future. In order for the operator to run an oil & gas installation, the equipment and the materials must adapt to the extreme conditions. Typical elements that affect the equipment and operation are temperature, humidity and wind.

The more demanding the outside conditions are, the more important the indoor environment quality becomes. HVAC has a significant and direct impact on the wellbeing of the operators through:

  • Temperatures in the different room
  • Air quality
  • Air diffusion in the different room
  • Noise level from HVAC installation

Halton has over 40-years-of-experience in indoor air quality. The company has delivered its indoor environment solutions for some of the most luxurious hotels in the world, hospitals, stadiums, shopping centers, offices, cruise ships, submarines, FPSO's, offshore platforms etc. Good indoor environment contributes to vigilance and safety on board.

Protecting the crew against hazards of oil & gas production processes

Oil & gas production processes generate hazards that should be under control by key equipment and operator at any time & in any situation. The crew and the key-equipment should be protected in unexpected situations that pose a risk. HVAC plays an important role in limiting the possible progression of the hazard.

Gas leakage in production
A gas leakage in production can pose a serious risk. Through well-managed HVAC it is possible to take following things into consideration.

  • Securing the key room with a good HVAC system
    • Creating over pressure for the key room in order to restrict the gas leakage into the room. This should be done with intelligent HVAC solution that adapts to the different situations like door opening and with terminal unit that operates pressure independently.
  •   Insulating the key room and the HVAC ducting in case of gas detection
    • Available reaction time when the gas has been detected should be well known
    • Fast closing  time of the HVAC ducting  with a efficient shut off damper is mandatory
    • Knowledge about the leakage performances of the shut off damper is a necessary

Blast situation
The HVAC installation of the building should be protected against a possible blast in order to avoid the blast progression into the building via HVAC system. It is highly important to define the possible forces of blast, choose the correct blast protection equipment and install the equipment correctly into the HVAC system. It is necessary for the equipment to be sized sufficiently so that they perform perfectly in case of blast.

Fire Risk
Fire risk is one of the key hazards on board oil & gas installation. A fire can ignite during the production process even if all precautions have been taken. It can also start in other areas like accommodations or the galleys. Uncontrolled fire, smoke and gas are extremely dangerous on board and the progression must be stopped as soon as possible. Fire and gas dampers installed in HVAC ducts have a significant role in preventing the progression of fire, smoke and gases that can become life threatening. A fusible link inside the fire damper also operates as a fire detector.

As smoke and other toxic gases can be more dangerous than the fire itself, it is important that the chosen fire damper also prevents smoke from spreading.

Fire can also start in accommodation areas and spread from room to room, not via ductwork. In this case it is possible to utilize what Halton calls Active Smoke Control solution.

  • Using displacement ventilation. Low velocity diffuser installed in the bottom level of the room supplies air into the room and accelerates the natural phenomenon of stratification where hot air including smoke goes up and cold fresh air goes down. This gives more time in case evacuation is necessary.
  • Adjusting the pressure in the neighboring room or zone. Fire generates smoke and gases as well as quick rise of temperature and pressure in the room or zone. By increasing the pressure in neighboring room or zone, it is possible to limit the fire, smoke and gases into the room where the fire is occurring.

Selecting equipment

Designing and selecting equipment should always be done according to the operation environment. Using certified products that follow international legislation is a must. Type approvals from the major classification societies as well as worldwide references tell something of the quality of the product. But it is not just that. It is also a question of production processes, and a reliable manufacturer has paid attention to certifications like ISO9001, ISO14001, OHSAS18001, MED and ATEX.

The HVAC installation should always maintain the expected performance level. New technologies that are utilizing automation enable a supervision and monitoring system that is easy to use. The system operator can easily take care of the systematic maintenance of the HVAC system or equipment i.e. record life cycle of the HVAC equipment and replace or maintenance them before failure. Supervision and monitoring system also enable to adjust the HVAC installation according to new requirements.

Halton Marine offers not only product & system deliveries with intelligent automation systems but comprehensive project management including design services, commissioning, testing and training services. A worldwide spare part service is always available via the Internet.

Marketing Manager, Halton Marine
Salla Ahlberg