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Production Facilities

Every year, SPE organizes more than 30 conferences worldwide. Critical issues of current interest to the oil industry are reflected in the SPE papers presented at these conferences. When selecting papers for this feature, I was not surprised that many papers deal with topics related to safety in facilities design and to asset integrity.

With recent publicized accidents and the industry’s continuing concern about its public image, operating companies are focusing on process safety and improving asset integrity, and are addressing these issues early in facilities design. Indeed, it can be argued that enhancing safety performance and dealing with the increased environmental risks remain the key challenges facing the industry today. Some concepts relevant to these topics are briefly outlined.

Asset integrity can be defined as the ability of the asset to perform its required function effectively and efficiently while managing health, safety, and the environment. In this context, asset integrity refers to hydrocarbon systems and includes support systems and infrastructure, such as platform structures.

Critical safety elements are those systems and equipment that prevent, control, or mitigate major accidents. They include elements such as pressure-relief valves, shutdown systems, fire- and gas-detection systems, and firefighting equipment.

Safety instrumented systems (SISs)—since its publication in 2003, the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) 61511 standard is becoming the basis for the specifications and implementation of SISs in the oil industry. Initially, the industry was relatively slow to adopt this standard. A dilemma facing operating companies is what to do about the existing shutdown safety systems that were installed before 2003 and that are not in compliance with IEC 61511.

Papers selected for this feature along with those recommended for additional reading highlight industry progress in these issues. I hope that they will be of interest to you.

Read the paper synopses in the December 2011 issue of JPT.

Hisham Saadawi, SPE, is Vice President (Engineering) for Abu Dhabi Company for Onshore Oil Operations (ADCO). He has more than 30 years’ experience in the design, construction, startup, and operation of oil- and gas-processing facilities. Saadawi’s current areas of interest include multiphase pumping, CO2 enhanced oil recovery, technical safety, as well as training and development. He is a recipient of the 2011 SPE Regional Projects, Facilities, and Construction Award. Saadawi is a 2010-2011 SPE Distinguished Lecturer and an SPE course instructor. He has served on several committees and subcommittees of SPE conferences and workshops, and he serves on the JPT Editorial Committee. Saadawi holds a PhD degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Manchester, UK, and is a Chartered Engineer in the UK.

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