While the incidence of unplanned hydrocarbon releases has fluctuated over the last decade, they remain a persistent hazard in the Australian oil and gas industry, particularly during hook-up and commissioning (HUC), start-up, maintenance, repair and brownfields life-extension projects.

Hot-work or the use of non-Ex[1] electrical equipment is often an unavoidable feature of the same operational activities; introducing ignition sources and with them the obvious and significant risk of fire or explosion. Whether on an offshore production platform, at an onshore processing facility or on board a tanker, these two hazards are consistent across industry sectors and the consequences of them meeting can be catastrophic, resulting in forced shut-down, asset damage, loss of revenue, personal injury or worse.

To solve this problem, wherever possible, operators attempt to eliminate one or both hazards from their operations; either performing hot work during facility shutdowns, or choosing cold-work methods to perform repairs, maintenance or facility upgrades. However, these two approaches are frequently impractical or ineffective, often prohibitively expensive and occasionally unsafe.

Safehouse offers a range of engineered solutions, based on proven principles of ignition source control to help operators safely and efficiently perform work in hazardous areas during all operational phases and activities.

These include pressurised habitats, designed to allow the safe execution of hot work, including welding, cutting or grinding, or the safe housing of non-Ex electrical equipment in potentially explosive atmospheres. SAFEHOUSE habitats are backed by certification and procedures developed through decades of on-site specialist experience. Safehouse’s range also includes IECEx-certified portable electrical equipment for hazardous areas (EEHA). The AS/NZS 60079 compliant EEHA range includes temporary power distribution, lighting, air-conditioning, gas detection and ventilation equipment.

These solutions are specially designed for use in hazardous areas, on live facilities, and work by ensuring ignition sources and potentially explosive atmospheres remain separated, ensuring work in hazardous areas is universally safe.

Safehouse recently supplied multiple pressurised habitat units, installation and management services and a range of IECEx certified portable power distribution, air-conditioning and lighting equipment to manage ignition risks during a major offshore HUC project on the north-west shelf. Safehouse’s range enabled the operator and EPCC contractor to maintain productivity, ignition source control and safety as they moved through the construction, HUC, start-up and operational phases.

With bases in Perth, Darwin and Adelaide, Safehouse continues to provide their range of hazardous area products and services to protect people, assets and production throughout the Australian oil and gas sector.

[1] Non-Ex equipment is that which is not specially designed for use in hazardous areas (potentially explosive atmospheres) i.e. it does not feature ignition-source protection methods in its design, including intrinsic safety (IS), and therefore presents an ignition risk.