The use of fire protection coatings can reduces the impact of fires and explosions on valuable oil and gas assets, and can helps avoid rig collapse, as occurred with the recent Deepwater Horizon explosion in the Gulf of Mexico.
International Paint's Protective Coatings business has been protecting oil and gas facilities from the effects of fire and corrosion, under the name Chartek®, since the early 1970s. Chartek helps companies in the oil and gas industry to manage important risks. These include minimizing the impact of fires and explosions on valuable assets and the resulting financial and human life consequences.
“Chartek forms an insulative layer during a fire, ensuring structural integrity as a result of fire and explosion for a defined period,” explains the business’ Worldwide Protective Coatings Technical Marketing Manager, Robin Wade. “This helps to avoid rig collapse and enable the fire to be put out and crewmen rescued. This failed to happen with the Deepwater Horizon explosion.”
Chartek can withstand the high rise in temperature occurring as a result of hydrocarbon fires and can provide up to three hours of protection for pool fire and jet fire scenarios. Chartek will also withstand blasts up to four bar over-pressure, ensuring that the fire protection is in place for ensuing fires. “Certification for Chartek covers structural elements, as well as decks and bulkheads (divisions)”, adds Wade. “When applied to divisions, not only is the integrity maintained, but the insulation also limits the passage of heat, protecting personnel during evacuation and while in safe areas.”
The technology emerged from the NASA Apollo program. Materials were developed to protect the space module from destruction upon re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere by creating a heat shield. Chartek was then quickly recognized as both an excellent fire retardant and an effective way of addressing performance issues exhibited by cement and concrete used on oil rigs. These included weight and long-term corrosion resistance properties. The Chartek product was not used on the Deepwater Horizon rig. If it had been, perhaps the disaster could have been avoided. But will any changes for fire insulation come out of the incident?
“There are many rules and regulations and guidelines for fire protection, however these do not always adequately cover all scenarios found for oil and gas production and processing facilities,” continues Wade. “It is only when a major incident, like the Deepwater Horizon spill, occurs that investigative work allows new guidance to be developed.”
International Paints' Protective Coatings business also provides a range of ballast tank coatings for vessels operating in the oil and gas industry, including FPSOs and FSOs. “As more and more vessels and structures access larger quantities of deep sea oil, they remain on station for longer periods,” notes Protective Coatings Market Manager, Oil and Gas, Ian Fletcher. “This means their ballast tanks are constantly loading and unloading seawater to ensure vessel stability as they add or unload their cargo. To combat this corrosion, our ballast tank coatings can provide well in excess of 15 years of protection before any maintenance is required.”
Other oil and gas services include approved third party coatings applicators to ensure Chartek is applied correctly; Interplan to manage corrosion risks; and Intersafe training to help raise health and safety standards in worksite environments.
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