Thursday, December 5, 2013

Fire Security in Russian Oil and Gas Industry - Part I



Fire Security in Russian Oil and Gas Industry



Michael V. Rukin
Member of Committee on Industry Security
of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Russian Federation
Founder and General Director of Ervist Group,
Chairman of the Board




Since its inception in 1996, Michael V. Rukin holds the position of General Director. Due to his executive, industry expertise and leadership skills the company grew from a small installation outfit to a Group that currently commands front-runner position in Russian security market for industrial special hazards and fire alarm systems. Mr. Rukin started his industry career as an expert engineer at the Complex Information Security Center of ELERON, one of the biggest in the world Russian Governmental Scientific and Production entity. After inauguration of Ervist, over the last decades he evolved as one of the principal experts in Russian integrated industrial safety field. His technical notes, publications and conference reports are widely cited and acclaimed in professional domain. In collaboration with his team, Mr. Rukin plays decisive function in development of Ervist Group – that serves as a crucial input to its business success. Under his leadership, the Group currently expanded to four companies that cover major part of Russia - and deliver over 1,500 titles of diverse security products of domestic and foreign vendors. Currently the Group has one of the best in Russia distributing infrastructure that includes technical engineering center, support and warehouse facilities. Mr. Rukin is well known for his extensive educational and training activities, delivering key presentations for engineering community and at a number of in-service training courses. Michael V. Rukin is a graduate of Moscow Technical University of Telecommunications and Informatics, and resides in Moscow.

One of the most critical elements of Russian economy is the Oil and Gas Industry. Besides upstream and downstream, it has transport companies as well as the companies selling crude oil and petroleum products. According to the Ministry of Energy of the Russian Federation, the industry has 28 major refineries (capacity of 1 million tons per year), mini-refineries and plants producing oils. Trunk pipelines span for about 50,000 kilometers and pipelines – 19,300 km. 301 businesses were involved in oil production in 2012. This vast network requires a high quality fire protection . Oil and Gas companies are characterized by the presence of hazardous products and raw materials. This is aggravated by high degree of automation used – that poses a material risk of major technological accidents and disasters (due to possible malfunction and human errors). Fires and explosions accompany these, as a rule. Just as an example, a typical refinery with annual production capacity of 10-15 million tons may accumulate from 300 to 500 thousand tons of hydrocarbon fuel, an equivalent of up to 3.5 megatons of TNT. Here is a fire hazard attributes of a typical Oil and Gas facility:


Fires at Oil and Gas facilities are characterized by considerable material losses and casualties. Unfortunately, in Russia there is a modest growth in number of incidents. Federal Service for Ecological, Technological and Nuclear Supervision provides these data for 2007-2011: in total 84 hazardous events occurred, including 41 explosions (49 % of the total), 30 fires (36% ) and 13 accidents that resulted in release of hazardous substances (15%). Overall material damage only in 2011 amounted to more than 1 billion rubles (RUR). Hazardous events with extensive material damage and loss of life occur infrequently – there were only three significant ones: explosion of ethylene on Tomskneftekhim in 2007 (total damage of 143 mln. RUR) , explosion at Kirishineftergsintez LLC in 2008 (with the damage of 118 million RUR, 5 people were killed), and explosion and fire at Stavrolen LLC in 2008 ( with 226 million RUR in damages with 4 dead). As a rule , the damage is in the range of 1-3 million RUR. It is interesting to note that this is consistent with data in other countries. For example, the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) reports JCS Fires/Explosions: CY 2007-2013 most hazardous events in the areas of active oil production (Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific Ocean) caused damage lower than $ 25,000. This may be an indication that, generally speaking, fire security is effective in Oil and Gas worldwide.
Analyzing statistical data for Russia, it is noteworthy to indicate that in the last decade there is a new addition to traditional list of fires in the Oil and Gas sector: petrol and gas stations. 


Source: Fires and Fire Security in 2010. Statistical Review. VNIIPO EMERCOM of Russia, Moscow 2011.

According to ROSTECHNADZOR, Federal Environmental, Industrial and Nuclear Supervision Service of Russia, major hazards for Oil and Gas industry are: fires - 58.5%, gas contamination - 17.9% and explosions - 15.1% of the total number.

Information on sources of  fire ignition:



According to various sources, the principal sources of hazardous events at Oil and Gas installations are the identical; the difference lies in interpretation of statistical data. I am inclined to accept the view of the State Academy of Fire Services of EMERCOM of Russia:

Source: M.I. Lebedeva, A.V. Bogdanov, J.J. Kolesnikov. Analytical review statistics for dangerous event at the facilities of refining and petrochemical industry. Technologies of Technosphere Security. Internet magazine, No 4, 2013

Obviously, the human factor (violation of safety regulations, poor-quality installation and repair of equipment) plays a predominant role.

Thus, summarizing the first Part, it can be noted:

  • Quality and diligent design of fire safety systems is a key element of industrial safety – this plays important role in Oil and Gas Industry.
  • Oil and Gas industry installations contain a number of specific attributes that indicate the possibility of hazardous events that involve fires and explosions with the devastation and losses of life:
  • Substantial vapors emissions pose significant fire hazard even during day-to-day normal operations (explosion hazard zone is neighboring to tanks)
  • Assortment of various types of hazardous threats that are collocated adjacent to each one; at the same time they are distributed over a large area of installation
  • Modern Oil and Gas industry installations utilize a high degree of automated processing and control systems. That may outcome resulting in hazardous situations due to possible faults in their interaction, or – due to human errors by operators
  • Rapid expansion of hazardous event, potential of swift omnidirectional fire and explosives migration; massive destruction capability

This concludes that first Part of my article. In the second part I will discuss what solutions for fire security of Oil and Gas installations are suggested by the Russian companies – with cost-effectiveness and quality that are highly competitive at the global market.

1 comment:

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