BSEE Safety Alert: Improper Compressor Purging Leads To Explosions
Job Safety Analysis (JSA) and improper compressor purging procedures were brought to the forefront on 8 December with the US Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement’s (BSEE) issuance of Safety Alert No. 327.
The alert described two incidents that occurred in the Gulf of Mexico in June and July and the findings of BSEE’s investigations.
In the first incident in June, a gas compressor ran for approximately 20 minutes before shutting down due to a platform air compressor problem during normal startup operations. After the air compressor was back on line, there were two failed attempts to restart the gas compressor. The mechanic then made adjustments to the magnetic pickup and the flywheel. Two attempts later, the gas compressor appeared to be starting, but after 2–3 seconds, the engine backfired.
The subsequent explosion sent the scavenger box and debris airborne and ignited the paper filters in the filter housing. The fire was immediately extinguished; however, the mechanic standing next to the air box was injured by flying debris that contacted his chin and upper body.
The initial investigation indicates that failure to properly purge the gas compressor is the probable cause of the backfire because the compressor panel logic allows the purging process to occur with the starters engaged. After engagement, the panel logic allowed ignition causing the backfire and subsequent explosion.
In July’s incident, a reciprocating compressor ran for approximately 5 minutes without being loaded during normal startup operations. The engine then shut down due to low fuel supply. Once corrected, the compressor was restarted without being purged or loaded. The engine ran in idle for about 10 minutes with the blowdown valve in the open position.
During that time, an explosion occurred causing damage to the third-stage cooler and associated piping.
BSEE’s initial investigation showed that a lack of understanding of the proper purging technique and an insufficient JSA with respect to listing and job steps are probable causes of the failure to purge the compressor.
BSEE recommended the following:
Review JSAs involving compressors to confirm that they include the steps associated with properly purging equipment before startup.
Review operating procedures to ensure purging operations are stated in compressor startup procedures.
Review training program and work instructions to ensure personnel are aware of, and trained, in proper purging procedures.
Review compressor panel logic permissives to ensure the proper sequence of events in compressor startup.
Follow manufacturer’s recommendations for compressor maintenance.
Keep Your Eye on the Oil Price Ticker To Gauge 2019 Oilfield Services
The oilfield services sector showed steady revenue growth in 2018 thanks, in part, to increased project sanctioning. With the oil price falling $20 in the past 2 months, however, the future may be murkier than expected.
Operations Suspended Following Oil Spill in White Rose Field
A shut-in subsea flowline is believed to be the source of the spill on Husky Energy’s SeaRose FPSO offshore Newfoundland and Labrador. The spill is believed to be the largest in the history of the Canadian province.
API Releases New Edition of Valve Standard
API released an updated valve standard for wellhead and tree equipment, which includes new automatic closure requirements.
Don't miss out on the latest technology delivered to your email every two weeks. Sign up for the OGF newsletter. If you are not logged in, you will receive a confirmation email that you will need to click on to confirm you want to receive the newsletter.
07 January 2019
10 January 2019
16 January 2019
09 January 2019