Why taking an active role in safety is good for business
Few would disagree that the primary objectiveof any business is to make a profit – preferably a substantial one. In fact, unless a company has been unfortunate enough to suffer the effects of a major accident, it is fairly safe to assume that the main focus in board meetings remains firmly on financial matters, with plant safety often much further down the agenda. The fact is that plant safety and company profitability are actually very closely linked. Major accidents in highly hazardous industries can be extremely costly, with forced downtime, compensation claims, fines, clean-upcosts, rebuilding expenses, damage to reputation, and in the worst case scenarios, loss of human life. Board members and senior management are ultimately responsible for plant safety. Under the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007,the courts now have power to prosecute companies rather than individuals in fatality cases where it is deemed an organisation’s conduct in respect of health and safety matters has fallen far below what could have been expected in terms of duty of care.
The Bribery Act: how does it affect you?
The Bribery Act 2010 creates two general offences of bribing another person and being bribed, and a discrete offence of bribery of a foreign public official. In addition, section 7 of the Act introduces for the first time an offence whereby a ‘relevant commercial organisation’ (i.e. one incorporated/formed in the UK or one that is incorporated/formed elsewhere, but carries on business in the UK) is guilty of an offence if a person ‘associated’ with it (such as an employee, agent or joint venture partner) offers, promises or gives a bribe with the intention to obtain or retain business or an advantage in the conduct of business for that organisation. This last offence is commonly characterised as ‘failing to prevent bribery’ and can only be committed by a company, not an individual. It is also an offence of strict liability, meaning that if bribery is committed on behalf of a company by a person ‘associated’ with it, such as an agent, it may give rise to criminal liability for the company (with the risk of an unlimited fine, debarment from public procurement contracts, and reputational damage) notwithstanding that the directors were unaware of the conduct. Thankfully, however, the company will have a complete defence if it can prove that it ‘had in place adequate procedures designed to prevent persons associated with [it] from undertaking such conduct’ (i.e. offering, promising or giving a bribe).
As one door closes, another opens
Oil sands growth and new production from existing conventional oil reserves will drive Canadian crude oil production to about 4.7 million barrels per day (bpd) by 2025 from the current 2.9 million bpd, according to the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers. ‘Expanding access to existing markets in the US and diversifying into Asian markets is important to enable this production growth and to ensure Canadian producers receive competitive prices for their products,’ says Greg Stringham, CAPP’s VP of markets and oil sands. ‘Continuous technological innovation in Canada’s oil and gas industry enables us to increase production and improve environmental performance,’ adds Stringham. ‘And the different varieties of oil being moved along with biofuels will require more tank storage facilities.’ There were 98 primary fuel distribution terminals in Canada in 2007, according to the latest report from Kent Marketing Services. That figure is probably similar today or maybe lower, says John Showronski, director of environment, at the Canadian Petroleum Products Institute in Calgary. From a distribution network standpoint, the marketplace is becoming more efficient with upgrades based on new technology, so there is more rationalisation going on in the storage sector. In terms of biofuels, there’s growing interest in the marketplace and the different levels and different requirements in each province on the facilities side will present a challenge to the industry. The oil and gas sector accounts for 500,000 direct and indirect jobs in Canada and is the largest single private investor in the country, pumping C$50billion (€35 billion) into the economy in 2007 and 2008, the latest figures available.
Over the last 50 years, there were 23 boilovers worldwide, causing 198 fatalities. 547 people were injured, 101,709,956 oil barrels got burnt, 56 tanks were destroyed, 220 houses and buildings were destroyed and eight industrial plants were badly damaged. To prevent these possible accidents, terminals need to take precautions. Foam and gas extinguishing systems should cover all high risk locations and be controlled from a central location. Facilities should have a fire water mains network coupled with a premix circuit and a foam fire monitor of minimum 20,000l/min capacity should be installed on trailers, skid systems and heavy duty pumps. The fire protection system in place needs to relate to the size of the storage facility. For example, if firemen are dealing with a 12m diameter storage tank fire, a 2,000l/min master stream nozzle would be more than adequate to provide the required volume of water foam solution for extinguishment. But, on the other hand, if the same firemen are dealing with a full-surface fire on an 80m diameter storage tank, the same 2,000l/min nozzles would only supply a fraction (6%) of the water/foam solution required. In reality, a master stream nozzle is not considered as big if its volume is less than 60% of the total volume required. For large fires, using a big fire monitor reduces the logistical problems the terminal would face using many lower flow volume monitors. Using two big fire monitors rather than 20 smaller nozzles does not change the requirements for water, hose and foam supplies, but it does reduce the risk and exposure to personnel, as well as simplifying equipment as less equipment is involved, the distance from the hazard in increased and more water/foam is delivered to the impact surface.
What is a flame? Remarkably, a not so commonly asked question when ooking for a fire. The fundamental interpretation of a flame is that the carbon particles, most frequently referred to as soot, when heated by the exothermic energy created during oxidation of the fuel; incandesce or in simpler terms, glow white. As they cool the colour of these particles turn to orange then red and then finally to black as smoke. This is how humans interpret a flame visually and hence recognise it as fire. With the advancement, of now commonplace, charge coupled device (CCD) technology, digital cameras, mobile phones, and so on, this tool can now be used to accomplish a number of new functions, one being the detection of fire. Image capture from a CCD pixel array is possible via the photoelectric effect, where light energy is produced by the flame’s incandescence. Photons are emitted from the flame then received by the pixels of the array, creating a picture of the flame. The photoelectric effect transforms the energy intensity from the photons into a proportional electrical charge. UK-based fire detection specialists Micropack produces the FDS300 and FDS301 flame detectors, which have the ability to analyse the array output and similarly as the brain would. The equipment interprets images visually and confirms whether or not a fire is present. The FDS300 and FDS301 can make this decision and output the appropriate alarm condition. The video is constantly monitored at 25 frames per second (this speed causes persistence of vision which is faster than the human eye) seeking outflame characteristics.
Bulk liquid storage in Turkey
Strong economic growth and Turkey’s development as a major energy transit corridor linking oil and gas resources in the Caucuses and central Asia to the European and global markets is driving a new tank storage expansion phase. Although most third party terminals are Turkish-owned at present, international terminal operators are showing interest in this growing market. Texas, US-based oil pipeline and terminal operator NuStar Energy entered a joint venture with S-Oil and Aves of Turkey earlier this year, investing around $54 million(€37 million) to take a 75% stake and operational control of two petroleum terminals. The terminals, one capable of storing 606,000 barrels o fpetrol, oil and distillates such as diesel, the other designed to hold 740,000 barrels of mostly oil products, are connected by pipeline to a new offshore platform in the Mediterranean. Bigger players also are also interested in Turkey, with at least one leading global third party terminal operator thought to be working on setting up local storage facilities in the future. Most storage terminals are located along Turkey’s Marmara, Aegean and Mediterranean coastlines including Ceyhan, where the BTC oil pipeline and the Iraq-Turkey oil pipeline terminate. Terminal facilities at Ceyhan will expand further in future when construction of the Samsun-Ceyhan oil pipeline is completed, which is expected by 2014.
Replacing the burnt-out boiler
Located in Antwerp, Total Petrochemicals operates a high density polyethylene production plant with an overall capacity of 510,000 tonnes per year, and is capable of producing a large number of polyethylene grades using a variety of systems and producing bimodal resins. This plant receives the bulk of its feedstock from the nearby Fina Antwerp Olefins facility. At the facility, two boilers produce medium pressure steam for process heating. The fire tube boilers are equipped with single loop individual controllers and one boiler did not withstand the test of time – not once in the last decade was it able to control the steam header pressure automatically without tripping on load upsets – costing the company both time and money.
Opening up new options
Tank foundations pose a unique challenge to designers. Tanks are typically built close to ports or rivers making product delivery to the site easier. These water sites are often composed of old dredge spoil material which can be highly compressible, producing differential settlements when loaded. Other sites can pose issues due to settle mentor consolidation of deep soft deposits or loose fill. Or sites can be made up of heterogeneous fill which, under the load of a tank may cause extreme differential settlements. In seismically active areas tanks can also settle as a result of earthquake induced liquefaction. A tank’s load stresses the soil to depths that can exceed twice its diameter and influence an area surrounding the tank up to half of its diameter. With many of the better sites taken, it is no wonder owners are turning to more economical support solutions for tanks. The use of ground improvement methods often allow faster and lowercost support for tanks than deep foundation solutions. Commonly performed ground improvement methods for planned tank sites includes oil mixing, vibro methods, non-reinforced inclusions, wick drains and preloading.
Countermeasures for clean water
One gallon of oil or petrol can contaminate up to 1 million gallons of water, so even small accidents and spills can have terrible affects on wildlife and drinking supplies. That is why the American Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been putting in place stricter regulations for spill containment and countermeasure (SPCC) plans for farms and industrial facilities and requiring more and more operations to be certified. There were four minor oil spills in April and, while major disasters like the BP explosion in the Gulf of Mexico forge hundreds of headlines and public outrage, accidents happen all the time that do not get much attention. EPA requires that commercial facilities must have SPCC plans in place if their facilities store more than 1,320 gallons of oil in aggregate above-ground storage or have 42,000 gallons of completely buried oil storage capacity, and have a ‘reasonable expectation of an oil discharge’ to waterway or adjoining shoreline, which shows a trend toward greater scrutiny of above groundstorage, says James Ramm of Iowa’s Ecoengineers.
Quick and efficient
3D scanning technologies have the capability to capture a vast array of 3D positions (X,Y,Z coordinates or points) that provide factual information of assets. For large-scale storage tanks and barges, 3D laser scanners capture accurate position information that can be used to identify true shape, geometry, deformation and locations of interior structures. Traditionally, this process would be completed via a survey total station or a simple measuring tape. While these techniques provide the necessary position information, they are generally time intensive when multiple measurements are required and, in the case of a tape, are prone to measurement error. 3D scanning alleviates these deficiencies by capturing thousands of points in the same time it would take to capture 10 points with a total station. 3D laser scanners use similar technology to total stations, in that distance and angle measurements are used to determine a 3D position (X,Y,Z coordinate). However, that is where the comparison ends as the distance measurement technology in a 3D scanner is immensely different; thecapability to measure distances at the rate of more than 100,000 points per second as opposed to 1 point per second. Similar to comparing the power of a single horse with a Ferrari 355: both will transport you from A to B, but the Ferrari will get there much faster with better quality!
Assessing environmental liabilities
What does environmental due diligence include? That depends on the nature of the acquisition. In the US, the standards for conducting environmental due diligence are set forth by the Environmental Protection Agency in Title 40 CFR Part 312: Innocent Landowners, Standard for Conducting All Appropriate Inquiry, which references the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) E 1527-05 Standard Practice for Environmental Site Assessments: Phase1 Environmental Site Assessment Process. But, in both cases, the standards leave it up to the environmental professional to determine the level of assessment that is warranted for an acquisition and consult the client on all the options. The environmental due diligence process can present significant opportunities. If managed skillfully during a transaction, you cannot only save money and avoid environmental liabilities, you can also know enough about a property or operation that you can structure your acquisition and future development and use of the property or facility based on that information. The information obtained during the environmental due diligence process can be a tremendous bargaining tool. You can negotiate on the price and use legal counsel to incorporate protection (indemnifications, warranties, representations, hold backs, or escrows) in the acquisition agreement to cover identified environmentalliabilities and costs.
New fuels, new coatings
At first glance, tank coatings are just glorified paint, but the more one looks into the options the more complicated the subject becomes. Starting with the inside surfaces of the tank, the most obvious requirement of a coating is that it prevents, or at least delays, corrosion of the steel. Any fuel may contain a small percentage of entrained water, and this will settle to the bottom of the tank, causing the steel to rust. It is common, therefore, to line the tank bottom and part way up the walls with a coating that resists water penetration. A metre or two up the walls is common, and fairly simple to do. Any higher than that and the working at height health and safety regulations come into play and scaffolding is needed inside the tank. Ethanol is known to cause stress corrosion cracking in steel so ethanol tanks may be lined right to the top. Where old tanks are being refurbished or those previously used for petroleum products taken over for biofuels, it is quite common for the inside of the tank to be heavily corroded and pitted with rust. Coatings containing glass fibre are often used in these situations, not just to provide a clean surface but also to add some mechanical strength to a tank weakened by corrosion. Double skinned linings can even provide built-in leak detection.