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GCC invests in safe and secure futureby Indrajit Sen on Mar 29, 2016
The Middle East has, over the years, been known to all and sundry as not just the biggest oil hub in the world, but also for having an established oil and gas industry that can boast of safe and secure operations. Considering that the GCC owns some of the busiest oilfields and offshore drilling rigs, and pumps about 19mn barrels of oil per day, it reports negligible incidents of onsite accidents, fire outbreaks and oil spills.
Major regional players – primarily the National Oil Companies (NOCs) – have traditionally allocated sizable chunks of their budget in securing their daily operations and maintaining overall health, safety, security and environment (HSSE) standards. Spending big on security equipment being among that.
“Our experience in the GCC region shows that oil and gas companies are very safety conscious,” Dr. Liane Smith, managing director of British asset integrity company Wood Group Intetech, says. “We recently visited an operator’s office in the region that had safety statistics and signs on every floor of the building. This awareness is prevalent across the GCC, where many organisations have a significant focus on safety across the business.”
Industry experts also feel that securing oil and gas operations is a dynamic process and regional companies must continue to strive towards attaining excellence in HSSE standards. “Safety is a prime concern in the industry, but as in all things there is always room for improvement or better ways of doing things,” Scott Starr, marketing director of US-based Firetrace International, told Oil & Gas Middle East.
Speaking of safety and security in the oil and gas sector, the first aspect that comes to mind is fire protection systems (FPS). Fossil fuels being highly flammable commodities, the risk of fire outbreaks are high and the global energy sector has suffered numerous such deadly accidents that have amounted to both loss of life and operations. “There are a multitude of flammable fuels and materials and ready ignition sources at every oil and gas operation. A fire of any size is always a serious situation in such a setting. Detection and suppression of a fire in its earliest, or incipient, stage stops small fires from growing large enough that they can threaten lives and property,” Starr says.
He claims Firetrace International has sought to address this particular challenge of fire security. “Firetrace systems detect and suppress fires automatically and can be installed in remote or hard to reach areas, providing an extra margin of safety for O&G workers by extending the capabilities of fire suppression into the microenvironment areas where it starts rather than taking a macro approach to detection and suppression,” he says.
Starr explains the workings of his company-manufactured FPS equipment’s working: “Firetrace pre-engineered systems suppress small fires automatically before they can grow, and Firetrace engineered total flooding systems can protect entire rooms or other large spaces containing high asset or mission-critical equipment necessary to maintain the safety and security of oil and gas operations. Firetrace utilises a pressurised polymer tube for detection that is ideal for the oil and gas market as it is quite resilient and very tolerant of dirt, grime, oils, and vibration; a benefit that any other detection method struggles to match.”
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