Protection technologies against CBRN/HAZMAT incidents in oil and gas installations

Best protection technologies against CBRN/HAZMAT incidents in oil and gas

Srwa Khaleel, a CBRN/HAZMAT course designer and oil and gas expert instructor at CBRN Academy, was invited by the CBRN research and development organisation, Romanian cluster PROECO-CBRNE, to participate in an International virtual workshop, the ‘End-user requirements and beyond”. The workshop was held online on 14 April 2021.  Srwa gave a presentation relating to ‘Protection technologies against CBRN/HAZMAT incidents in oil and gas installations, in collaboration with AVNON Group.

During her presentation, Srwa focused on several case studies relating to examples of international attacks on oil and gas installations. She opened her presentation by giving examples of incidents in recent years, such as terrorist attacks and other related incidents. She talked about the main challenges facing first responders. She considered how teams in chemical facilities could use security risk techniques to predict, prevent, prepare, respond, and recover from such incidents on gas and oil installations and projects.

Srwa raised the importance of modern equipment and technology explicitly designed to protect first responders during a rescue and response phase to CBRN and HAZMAT incidents on such facilities.

The first part of the presentation included examples of upstream and downstream oil and gas projects. Upstream, relating to offshore and onshore drilling/production projects, downstream projects pertaining to crude oil refinery and gas processing plants.

The presentation showed that the oil and gas installations have recently become a target for terrorists’ incidents for many different reasons. Some groups have the intention to try to control the fuel supply for their use or to affect the global oil and gas prices adversely.  Others intend to influence the work of foreign companies in countries that are involved in the production of petroleum, for example, the drone attacks on Aramco oil facility in Saudi Arabia, the ISIS attack on the North Gas Company processing plant in Kirkuk City.  Srwa looked at the case study of the rocket attack on the BP-Statoil gas plant in Algeria and the IS rocket attack on an oil facility in Libya.

Srwa explored the complex actionable challenges for first responders when responding to CBRN/HAZMAt incidents on oil and gas installations, e.g.,

Exposure to highly flammable, corrosive and toxic chemicals, fire.

Explosions.

Additional attacks.

Accessing confined spaces and breathing issues.

One major project Srwa and the team at CBRN Academy have been focusing on recently is a course that focuses on the importance of improving communication and interoperability of agencies responding to such incidents. She specifically focused on the communication between plant operators and first responders.

A significant section of her presentation dealt with the challenging environment that first responders face when responding to such incidents. Srwa provided a few examples of this, e.g.,

  • Falling and moving objects,
  • Evacuation difficulties,
  • Weather conditions,
  • Limited access points,
  • Poor lighting,
  • Nighttime attack, and
  • Contamination for first responders.

The presentation included completeness leading security risk mitigation techniques set by the American Petroleum Institute. In particular, a method called the Security Risk Assessment (SRA) methodology API Standard (STD) 780 (2013). Srwa explained how professionals use this methodology for assessing security risk at petroleum and petrochemical facilities. She pointed out how the assessment process enables agencies and organisations to evaluate the processing of hazardous materials such as chemical, refining, petrochemical manufacturing operations, pipelines, and transportation operations.  Srwa highlighted the benefits of the API SRA methodology and how it can assist with compliance to regulations, such as the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Chemical Facility Antiterrorism Standards, 6 CFR Part 27(2007).

Srwa made the point that the Security Vulnerability Assessment (SVA), also set by the API RP 70 (2003) and API RP 70I (2003), is used as a secondary evaluation process. It is used to examine a facility’s characteristics and operations to identify existing potential threats or vulnerabilities and propose security and protection recommendations.

At the end of the presentation, Ms Khaleel showed items of equipment produced by AVNON Group for first responders to support them when responding to CBRN and HazMat incidents in oil and gas installations. Srwa emphasised that entering into confined spaces requires effective PPE and oxygen supply to work in such challenging environments. She informed the workshop that first responders need to be physically fit, trained in the correct procedures and up-to-date equipment. She made the point that the Physical fitness of first responders is paramount because the need to use heavy PPE is very demanding.

Here is a summarised list of some of the recommendations made:

  1. Using a respiratory apparatus for changing operational conditions, with easy switching in a mask and gas detector.
  2. Wearing lightweight PPE.
  3. Using a respiratory PPE that can purify and recycle the inhaled air to conserve O2 and prolong the duration.
  4. Using positive pressure demand respirator to provide air supply based on first responder condition; during movement and slow/rest condition.
  5. First responders can use safety and personal monitoring systems to send monitoring data to the command center regarding responder conditions.
  6. A casualty finder can be used to identify persons buried under equipment and buildings.
  7. Application of robots for detecting, sampling, and fire extinguishing.
  8. The use of detectors with a library can identify the type and concentration of chemical agents.  
  9. Installation of the rugged gas detector, with alarm installed for sudden release CW agents and TICs.
  10.  Leak sealing pad to stop a leak from the damaged equipment to prevent fire and explosion.
  11. Detection of chemical and toxic industrial agents from a distance can be deployed on a tripod, a vehicle or a building.   
  12. The installation of anti-drone systems in oil and gas projects.
  13. In the ending session, the Srwa took many questions regarding the application and efficiency of areal detectors for industrial facilities.

Srwa and CBRN Academy are just about to publish their anticipated new course relating to ‘building capability and capacity for chemical incidents and attacks on chemical facilities; check our blog to know more about it.

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