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Hazardex 2017 Conference - Expanding Consequence and Risk Assessment to Include Potential Escalation and Business Interruption Risks in the Chemical and Refining Industries

Author : Rob Magraw - BakerRisk Europe

03 November 2016

Refineries and chemical plants invest heavily to reduce the frequency and magnitude of hazardous flammable and toxic gas releases and their potential subsequent impacts (flash fire, toxic, explosion, thermal radiation).  Despite this expenditure of money and time hazardous releases still occur, often resulting in heavy fire or blast damage in the areas immediate to and surrounding the event source.

During and after these events refineries and chemical plants often depend on safety critical equipment and operational control systems to safely shut down the plant and prevent escalation.  Located within process units or inside central control locations (MCCs, CCRS, etc.), these critical assets may be damaged due to the initial event and as a result be unable to prevent escalation and/or achieve process shutdown.

Appropriate protection and siting of safety critical equipment and operational control systems is a key step in reducing escalation and minimising business interruption during and after a fire or blast event.  However, traditionally these key assets are not included in quantitative siting and risk assessment studies, which instead focus mainly on personnel risk.  In some instances, a building containing essential control systems may be included in siting and risk assessments, but the studies rarely address the vulnerability of critical equipment and its ability to respond when needed.

In the event of a release, critical equipment and control systems may be vulnerable to structural collapse, forced acceleration, debris impact and thermal affects.  The structural collapse, acceleration, and impact damage associated with blast loading can be assessed by the use of non-linear single-degree-of-freedom (SDOF) modelling.  In addition, Computational Fluid Dynamics codes, such as Fire Dynamic Simulator (FDS), can be used to determine potential thermal degradation effects for buildings and/or equipment.  With the additional consideration of equipment location and material composition, equipment vulnerability (EV) values representing the functionality of critical equipment after damage can be determined and applied.

This paper describes a method of using quantitative siting and risk assessment techniques to determine the blast and fire risk to safety critical equipment and operational control systems in chemical and refining facilities.  The paper utilises the methodology outlined above to develop a case study regarding the determination of equipment damage and equipment availability.  In addition, this paper offers solutions to improve the availability of these systems after an accident.

About the Speaker

Robert Magraw leads BakerRisk Europe Limited, the European subsidiary of Baker Engineering and Risk Consultants Inc.  He holds a BSc in Environmental Sciences from the University of Lancaster and has over 26 years’ experience in risk analysis and risk management obtained primarily in the nuclear and oil and gas sectors. 

Since joining BakerRisk in 2008, Magraw has undertaken a broad range of process safety related work including leading PHA studies, insurance risk engineering surveys, audits and reviews, quantified risk assessments and facility siting studies at numerous onshore and offshore oil and petrochemical facilities across the globe. 

He is a member of the Institution of Chemical Engineers and sits on their Hazards Technical Steering Committee.  He is also BakerRisk’s representative on the EPSC Technical Steering Committee.

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