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Special Report: Downturn has had little effect on FPS market

by Indrajit Sen on May 11, 2017

Many industry players perceive the fire protection industry to be a conservative one in terms of new product development.
Many industry players perceive the fire protection industry to be a conservative one in terms of new product development.

Innovative products and services, coupled with technology, play a major role in efficiently detecting and preventing fire incidents. For instance, it is now possible to detect deadly gas leaks at the speed of sound, without inclement weather, wind direction, leak direction, or any potential gas dilution affecting the process.

Unlike traditional gas detection equipment, today’s gas leak detection technologies do not have to wait until a gas concentration has accumulated, and the detection response is instantaneous for all gas types. The adoption of such innovations in the field of safety is gaining momentum in the GCC, experts state.

Tech Navio, a London-based research firm, predicts the global fire protection systems (FPS) market within the oil and gas industry will grow steadily at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of close to 4% during the 2016-20 period. One of the primary drivers for the growth of this market is the stringent regulatory framework set up by governments, the report says.

These regulatory standards state that every direct oil and gas operator should allocate a certain share of their overall investments to fire safety. According to these standards, the establishment of a health and safety department in every oil and gas facility is mandatory, to analyse and prevent fires during onshore and offshore activities, Tech Navio says in the report.

“The fire protection industry always grows quite steadily,” Chris Gill, product manager water – Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) at FPS provider, Viking, states in the report. “We still see a lot of potential to grow in the region. We have strong sales in the GCC countries,”

FPS industry experts appear unanimous in their belief that the GCC oil and gas sector is well-equipped to deal with fire accidents, and that the latest fire-safety mechanisms are in place.

“The [regional] oil and gas industry is extremely well-prepared; its specifications are quite detailed. The industry engineers and consultants we talk to are very well-educated,” Gill says.

“In the oil and gas industry, you can’t prevent every fire accident. These will happen,” he concedes. “However, the industry is well equipped; it understands the typical risks and the need for fire protection. I don’t think we can preach any more, but we can help [improve fire protection]. More dialogue with the end-users (the NOCs that are Viking’s clients), and the [workers] that are on the site, using and maintaining the system, can be helpful in improving standards.

“The oil and gas and fire-protection industries go hand-in-hand,” Gill adds. “In terms of exploration and production, [operators] might cut down costs, but when a decision has been made to build a facility, they have to have fire protection.

“We certainly don’t see much of a downturn in that industry, or in our business. I would say that fewer projects are being financed, but those projects do need fire protection, so we haven’t seen a very big impact.”

He continues: “2015 was a fantastic year for us, especially in the Middle East. We did better than we ever did before in terms of sales of valves, nozzles, and so on.”

Considering the drive among oil and gas operators to optimise value for their investments, even simple protective gear for workers is crucial to ensuring safety for personnel in hazardous conditions.

“Since oil and gas companies are willing to reduce their cost without compromising their standards, they are now looking at a safe glove [that is not necessarily] an impact-protection glove. Most companies have now decided to use impact-protection gloves only on the rigs and are now using general, cut-resistant gloves for their other applications,” said Sofian Hamila, country manager – Middle East and India for industrial glove maker, ATG Lanka.

Many industry players perceive the fire protection industry to be a conservative one in terms of new product development. “In most cases you won’t see massive leaps forward, because [products need to be tried and tested], which takes a long time,” says Gill. “Having said that, however, there are still new things coming up.”


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