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An old oil refinery plant experienced an unanticipated leakage and a fire happened at the usual hours of operation located at the hydrocracker which is medium pressurized which produced so much sulfur and decompositions which composed of gases and heavy gas oils.

Oil Refinery in Asia – Background

  1. An oil refinery plant in Asia had produced gradients at both their flanges from 2001. There is a difference of eight millimeter between the two flanges when the personnel removed the spacer after an accident had occurred which was caused by the strained pipes. Therefore the flanges are no longer parallel to each other and had only been bolt tightened. It created an unbalanced torque due to so much tightening which then caused the temperatures to drop.
  2. The plant managers decided to use a flange that had a spacer which was quite long. At the time the accident occurred, there was a definite need to employ it for the plant for maintenance causes. It was mainly used as the pipe disconnection mechanism. The main reason why a flange of that size was used was due to limited budget or cost efficiency.

With these speculations considered, herein arises the first problem which is how to manage an old refinery plant and secondly, how to design an old refinery plant.

Major Causes:

  1. The temperature was dropping the day before the fire occurred, the spacer became thermally contracted but the flange’s bolt didn’t shrink even though the heat was high mainly because of the drop in the temperature. The torque tightening at the gasket’s ends was lacking a lot which made the gas leak. There was not a definite source of fire ignition. It was theorized that it was due to the static energy which made the gases and materials spout.
  1. The flange utilized is a special kind of flange that has pipes inserted between them and its gasket are placed on both its ends, tightening is challenging and the insides of the spacer is processing temperature because it has a contact directly with the processed fluids, but as the bolts are found away from the exterior of the spacer, the heat expansion is less affected by the change in the process temperature. This requires constant attention given while there is temperature change due to the bolt being used which is required to be much longer than the usual.

Due to the fire in the plant, it needed to be shot down immediately to perform depressurization and substitute nitrogen instead. The neighboring refinery plants had to be informed and they had to stop operations as well. The fire emergency had to be called.

This kind of event that occurred in the Asian refinery plant shows how vulnerable the steam chimney of the refinery plants is to fire. It means that the refinery plants have to employ additional human resources to monitor critical fire risk areas in the plant round the clock to avoid fire occurrence which could pose a great threat to the people in the plant as well as the people living nearby.

The fire that happened from this Asian Oil Refinery plant would have been prevented if they have installed the right system to assist them in identifying gas leaks that have cause a huge fire and gas leaks from pipelines. Verifire is a solution where in all smoke and fire can be detected at an earliest stage. The system can detect these fire and smoke triggers within 10-15 seconds due to its brilliant algorithm that is on the chipset installed within the camera. The system automatically alerts the people in charge in case there has been a detected fire or smoke instance. These instances are also recorded on the SD card placed inside the camera or in the Verifire NVR.

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