Time is money in the oilfield, especially in hazardous locations. Downtime due to frozen pipes, valves, tanks and other equipment negatively affected by cold weather is extremely costly and frustrating. Large oil and gas producers can lose millions of dollars for each hour in down-time. In addition to down-time costs these companies will pay big bucks for parts and labor to get equipment up and running quickly. Fortunately, partnering with the right heat solution company that has the capability and expertise to provide heating solutions can help solve and prevent these problems.
Many areas within the oilfields are classified as a hazardous location so you will need to source heating products rated for those particular areas. The National Electric Code (NEC) defines hazardous locations as “areas where fire or explosion hazards may exist due to flammable gases or vapors, flammable liquids, combustible dust, or ignitable fibers or flyings.” Because electrical equipment can become a potential source of ignition for these volatile areas, certain precautions must be taken to remove the risk of fire and explosions.
The code writers have broken all hazardous locations into Classes and Divisions to make it easier to understand. The most common areas in the oilfield and gas plants are Class I Division 1 and Class I Division 2. Class I type hazard is created by the presence of flammable gases or vapors in in the air, such as natural gas or gasoline vapor. When these materials are found in the atmosphere in a sufficient concentration, a potential for explosion exists, which could be ignited if an electrical or other source of ignition is present. In addition to the location, the Code concerns itself with the kind of conditions under which these hazards are present; specifically (I) normal or (II) abnormal. In the normal condition, the hazard would be expected to be present in everyday production operations or during frequent repair and maintenance activity. Abnormal circumstances would be an accidental breakage, leakage or unusual faulty operation where the hazardous material could be exposed.
Three factors you will want to consider when looking to partner with a heating company for hazardous location applications are:
- Partner with an inventive company who has custom design and engineering capability, and that can help design solutions for those unique freezing issues. Not all applications are the same and a company that is agile and flexible can be your new best friend.
- Partner with a company that has experience designing heating solutions in the oilfield and completely understands the need.
- Lastly, you will need to work with a company that is safety certified, meeting both UL and CSA standards, for hazardous locations. In oilfield hazardous locations, you must find products certified to CID2 and look for those that can handle groups A through D, as well as one with the right temperature classification.