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SAFETY ASSESSMENT OF NATURAL

GAS COMPRESSOR STATIONS



A. Pijnacker Hordijk
N.V. Nederlandse Gasunie, The Netherlands

J.F. Sauer
Gaz De France, France

G. Linke
Ruhrgas, Germany

A. Cappanera
Snam, Italy


ABSTRACT

Gas installations are designed to ensure a maximum level of safety. This safety level has been
reached through improvement of knowledge over more than fifty years of activity. Nevertheless,
gas companies have a concern to constantly improve the safety associated with the operation of
gas installations. Four companies started a research project for the development of a common
and validated methodology for the safety assessment of their natural gas compressor stations,
which resulted in a methodology and a software tool.

It was necessary to assess the significance of undesired events in terms of likelihood and
consequences and moreover to compare threshold values given in the various regulations. The
combination of both parts led to an objective evaluation of the plant safety being used to support
management decisions regarding design, construction and operation.

The poster illustrates the structure of the fault tree, the functionality and reliability of safety
devices resulting in various outputs such as heat radiation graphs.

RSUME

Cinquante ans damlioration des pratiques et des connaissances du mtier gazier assurent une
conception des quipements gaz au plus haut niveau de scurit. Malgr cela, les compagnies
gazires restent toujours soucieuses daugmenter encore la scurit lie au fonctionnement de
leurs installations. Cest dans ce but que quatre dentre elles se sont lances dans un projet de
recherche ayant pour but le dveloppement dune mthodologie commune dtude de scurit
des stations de compression et pour rsultat un guide de savoir faire et un logiciel.

Ce projet a notamment ncessit dvaluer les consquences et les probabilits doccurrence des
vnements indsirables et de comparer les diffrents seuils rglementaires deffets. Cela a permis
daboutir une mthode dvaluation objective de la scurit des installations, pouvant servir de
support dans les phases de conception, de construction et dopration.

Le poster met en avant quelques rsultats du projet, dont la structure de larbre des causes, le rle et
la fiabilit des systmes de scurit et des rsultats de calcul tels des graphes disoflux.
INTRODUCTION

For three years, four major European Gas Companies, GAZ de FRANCE, GASUNIE,
RUHRGAS and SNAM, have worked together in order to build a common methodology for
performing safety studies on onshore natural gas compressor stations. Their aim was to list all
the potential hazards on such a plant, to assess their consequences and likelihood and to obtain
the different safety zones inside and around the plant. Still, mandatory differences and specific
requirements by local authorities were constantly taken into account so that, at the end, this
common methodology would fulfil the specific purposes of each participating company. The
project eventually leads to a know-how guidebook on one hand and prototype software on the
other hand

This document explains both the elaboration of the project and its results. For the
elaboration part, four steps are described, that are the definition of a Compressor Station
common to all four companies, a description of the fault trees and its construction, a draft of the
hazard analysis methods used to find the potential hazards and top events, and the importance
analysis conducted on the fault tree basic events.

For the results, beside the hazard analysis and the fault tree itself, the project involved
one task dedicated to the construction of a safety/reliability database which contains all the
figures linked to fault tree basic events likelihood, and another task which dealt with the
consequence calculation methods, tools and software that could be used when performing a
Compressor Station safety study. Then the combination of the likelihood and the consequences
of each accident scenario lead to a safety evaluation (in terms of risks) described in the
guidebook. A description is also given of the prototype software that has consequently been
developed to gather all those information (map of the station, database, fault tree, consequences
calculations...) and provide to the companies an integrated tool for assessing the safety of its
compressor station.

THE COMMON RESEARCH PROJECT

In order to carry out the safety assessment both the failure frequencies of the relevant
incident scenarios and the connected physical consequences have been calculated following
some different steps:

1. definition of a typical compressor station;
2. the approaches CFT and HCS (Hazard Categorisation Scale)
3. definition of a global compressor station fault tree (CFT);
4. developing of a data base;
5. the importance analysis of the incident scenarios;
6. consequence analysis;
7. safety evaluation.

All these steps have been defined and described in a common Methodology Manual that
defines the principles and the different approaches to be followed in a compressor safety
analysis, giving details about the techniques and the tools available in the Companies
participating to the project, and in a prototype software tool, named CAT (Compressor station
Assessment Tool), that can allow a faster application of the methodology principles. In the
following paragraphs a schematic description of each developed step is reported.

The Definition Of A Typical Compressor Station
The first step of the activity was to define the common terminology and the identification
of a typical compressor station, in order to have a unique and clear definition of the kind of plant
to be studied. The typical plant considered is a transmission natural gas compressor station and is
composed of:

one or more compressor units;
gas piping (including filters and coolers);
electric power generation;
control and safety devices;
station auxiliary equipment and facilities.

In order to have a more complete identification of the typical compressor station a matrix
description of the compressor station components with the relevant links, plausible failures,
possible consequences and installed safety and protection systems has been produced. Also a
specific TAG-numbering system has been applied to all equipment so that they are easily
identifiable throughout the project, meaning in the fault tree, database and software. In this
common definition any information about design, operational criteria and preventive safety
measures applied by each Company have been utilised.

The Approaches CFT And HCS
In order to apply a safety assessment of the Compressor Stations two possible approaches
have been defined by the WGCS group (see also ref. [1-2]): The Hazard Categorisation Scale
and the Compressor Fault Tree. These two approaches can be used separately for getting a final
safety evaluation or can be combined. The way to be followed depends on the available data of
the plant analysed, on the requirements of national legislation or the Company goals of the
performed analysis.

The two approaches differ mainly for the different path followed to select the relevant
scenarios to be analysed in a safety evaluation. In the HCS approach a consequence evaluation
on people and/or structures filter, the relevant incident scenarios thats the failure frequency
has then to be calculated. In the CFT approach the filter action is performed directly on the
failure ratio. Figure 1 shows, in a schematic way, the different steps of each approach and the
connections existing.

HAZARD ANALYSIS: Toolbox, HAZOP, FMEA, PHA
List of Potential Hazards - Undesired Scenarios
LISTOF TOP EVENTS / UNDESIRED EVENTS
FAULTTREE ANALYSIS -
FREQUENCIES EVALUATION
CONSEQUENCES EVALUATION
SAFETYEVALUATION
HCS APPROACH CFTAPPROACH
HCS application to
Potential Hazards
List of Top Events
Construction of
the Fault Trees for
Undesired Scenarios
CFTconstruction
CFTanalysis
List of Undesired Events
- CFTmodified
Construction of
Fault Trees for Top Events
if a CFT is available
if a CFT is
not available

Figure 1.


Figure 2: Compressor Fault Tree
It was eventually decided to combine CFT and HCS approaches together. HCS is used
for its ability to identify hazards as a qualitative approach and CFT for the quantitative
approach. The previous step of the methodology for the safety assessment on a natural gas
compressor station led to the characterisation of a list of Undesired Events (the so called Top
Events) starting from a list of Undesired Scenarios and Potential Hazards. These were
determined on the basis of the results of the matrix descriptions analysis, experience of
associated companies, the historical data collection and the application of hazard identification
techniques.

An integrated fault tree has been built, named the CFT (Compressor station Fault Tree),
to identify the incidents and to obtain the causal chain that allows estimating the probabilities,
through a qualitative failure analysis. The CFT has been carried out including the following
seven undesired events:

1. explosion in enclosure;
2. explosion in hall;
3. explosion in gas path;
4. fire in enclosure;
5. fire in hall;
6. fire outside hall;
7. fire at vent stack.

A fault tree has been constructed consisting of 200 basic and the causal chain of the
selected incidents. With this fault tree it is possible to calculate the relevant probabilities of
incidents leading to an undesired loss of containment. Figure 3 gives an example of one of the 50
branches of the fault tree.

Developing Of A Reliability Database
A dedicated reliability database has been developed with support from Det Norske
Veritas (DNV), for the probability assessment of incidents (the Undesired Scenarios considered
in the CFT).

In this database the equipment of the typical compressor station has been considered (see
ref.. [3-5]); however the figures of the database can be customised, during the analysis of a
compressor station, so the database is very flexible and fits the equipment of the plants of the
four Companies. The reliability database is composed of several types of data:

- leak frequency data: a mathematical model, depending on the diameter and the leak
equivalent diameter, for piping, valves and flanges expresses the leak frequency. For
equipment (such as filters, pumps, heat exchangers) the data come out mainly from
offshore equipment databases.
- Safety systems failure data: the PDS method has been used to quantify failure probabilities
for safety systems. The PDS method (PDS is the Norwegian acronym for reliability of
computer based safety systems) was developed in the late eighties/early nineties in a joint
industry project by SINTEF, Norway sponsored by oil companies and vendors of safety
equipment.
- Ignition probabilities: ignition probabilities have been estimated using an ignition model
developed for offshore QRA, and describes ignition probabilities for releases within offshore
modules as a function of time.

The ignition probability modelling is divided into three main parts:

Dispersion modelling
Ignition sources
Ignition probability model

The final result is an ignition probability value that depends on the outflow rate of the
flammable/explosive fluid.

In this study the estimation of human failure probabilities has been based on the TESEO
(Tecnica Empirica Stima Errori Operatori), see ref. [6]) method. The human failure probability is
defined as the probability that an operator does not complete a job successfully when requested
by the system, within a certain maximum time limit permitted by the system. The TESEO model
calculates the failure probability as the product of five factors:

Failure probability = K
1
K
2
K
3
K
4
K
5

The factors K
i
are assigned a number as described below.
K
1
: Type of activity (routine, requiring attention)
K
2
: Time available, routine activities
K
2
: Time available, non-routine activities
K
3
: Operators skills (expert, average)
K
4
: State of anxiety (emergency, normal)
K
5
: Environmental ergonomic factor (excellent microclimate, normal)

The result is the probability that the operator fails the requested operation. Estimation of
rare events were considered as the problem of estimation of frequencies or probabilities in
situations where the available information is scarce has been treated by standard Bayesian
technique. All the collected data are the basis for the calculation of failure frequencies of basic
events and utilising the fault tree of top event probabilities.

The Importance Analysis Of The Incident Scenarios
The Component Value Analyses is used, in order to prioritise the contributions of the
different basic events and global assessments. The Compressor Fault Tree (CFT) consists of
more than 200 so called basic events. To calculate the risk of a Compressor Station one would
not only need the consequences of the relative events, but also the chances of occurrence of the
given events. In order to be able to minimise the events from the fault tree it is necessary to
identify the most important ones. In the standard Fault Tree software programme used by the
WGCS members four methodologies are mentioned and implemented to calculate the
component importance. These methodologies are:

- Vesely Fussel
- Birnbaum
- Criticality Importance
- Smallest cut set

The importance analysis is also included and automatically applicable by the prototype
CAT software and can give a very fast indication to the user on the contribution of a given
component to the overall calculated consequence or risk value. It is possible in this way to
analyse different possible technical solutions focusing the attention to the relevant unsafe
contribution of each component in the compressor station.
Consequence Analysis
The consequence evaluation activity was expressed in terms of severity of the damage on
people and structures based both on threshold of the physical effects (heat radiation,
overpressure, and so on). This activity aimed at three points.

1. the objective was to list the physical phenomena to be studied and to give theoretical
models to simulate them.
2. to give indications on some software models, available among the Companies, that can be
used for performing partly or totally the consequence calculations connected to the
undesired events that can be identified as hazardous through the compressor station safety
study.
3. the goal was to give an indication on how to interpret the results given by the software
models, in terms of physical consequences.

The effects considered were heat radiation, either from a jet fire or a pool fire,
overpressure from gas plume ignition (unconfined release) or from explosion (confined and semi
confined release, see ref. [8-11]).


-200 -100 0 100 200
-200
-100
0
100
200
-200 -100 0 100 200
-200
-100
0
100
200

Figure 3: heat radiatian field

Therefore, it was necessary to implement modules for:

- leak size dependent un-steady mass flow calculation
- calculation of LEL shape or spill area
- flame length estimation
- calculation of time-dependent heat field
- conversion of thermal radiation into dosage fields
- estimation of overpressure effects
- assessment of thermal threat and overpressure effects on people
- et al. (see ref. [12])

Safety Evaluation
The main objective of the safety study is to achieve information about the safety level
connected to the considered activities inside and outside the Compressor station areas.The safety
assessment goes through the combination of the expected frequencies of the undesired scenarios
in terms of occurrences per year and the estimation of the expected damages per one event. The

calculation results can be managed in order to provide safety indications through some matrixes,
maps and indexes to be used for ranking different compressor stations. It is possible to :
- look at the results (like heat radiation or dosage) at a single location, along a line or inside a
defined area
- draw iso-risk contours of iso thermal curves
- generate dosage maps or risk profiles.

Single gas or oil release sources can be analysed in depth as well as sets of sources (e.g.
inside the compressor hall or in the enclosure) or as a complete station. The next figures give an
example of the output of such evaluations. Of course it is possible to generate this as an table of
figure or an overall integrated risk figure for the entire station.



-200
-100
0
100
-200
-100
0
100
200
0
1000
2000
-200
-100
0
100
-200
-100
0
100
-200
-100
0
100
200
0
1000
2000
-200
-100
0
100


Figure 4: 3D heat fields Figure 5: Dosage fields

THE PROTOTYPE SOFTWARE TOOL CAT

A software package for the safety assessment of the compressor stations has been
developed according to the CFT approach described in the Methodology Manual. The software
allows the application of the methodology in a quite simplified way, in order to have a fast
assessment of the level of safety of a compressor station and compare it with other similar plants
and/or identify the safer areas inside the compressor station itself. CAT is based on :

a schematic representation of the compressor station area and facilities;
the reliability database for the estimation of the frequency of the Top Events of the CFT;
simplified mathematical models for the calculation of consequences (heat radiation in
case of fire, overpressure in case of explosion, Probit equation for the evaluation of the
damages).

Since the prototype software is based upon simplified models it should rather be used as a
first approach during design stage or as an analyses tool to improve the safety of the station. The
application of the methodology can then be performed to analyse the compressor station in a
deeper way. However the two methods are independent and can be used also separately.

DEVELOPMENT OF a COMPRESSOR ASSESSMENT TOOL
Failure frequency
convertion
CAT - Compressor Assessment Tool
SAFETY EVALUATION
Cons equenc e
Model
Data handling
- Input / results /output
RISK
FF - formulas
CS-Station DATA
failure
frequency
exposure [yr's]
length [meters]
diameter [inches]
pressure [bar]
# stations [-]
# equipment [-]
[ ]
F d d
for mm d D
d
D
( ) .
.
=


=

3 6 10
1
3 1 2
1
Applicable for :
enclosure
hall
outside
valves
process piping
flexibles
buried pipes
flanges
filters
heat exchangers (tube)
heaters (electrical)
press. vessels
storage vessels
pumps
compressors
Applicable for :
component failures
leak size distribution
human errors
failure on demand
station lay-out
environment
conditions

Figure 6: Compressor Assessment Tool

VALIDATION OF THE METHODOLOGY AND TOOLS

The methodology and the software tool CAT have been validated by the Gas Companies
on their own installations. The task was, mainly, to test the methodology and the software, and
have a feedback on the carried out work, in terms of improvement of the method, applying
guidance. The methodology was applied to real plants in order to verify the completeness of the
methodology itself, the availability of all the tools and the consistency of the results with those
obtained using other methods.

The validation of the methodology and the prototype software itself be presented in a
separate paper at another occasion.

CONCLUSIONS

In this paper an overview has been given of the three-year work carried by four
companies (i.e. Gasunie, Gaz de France, Ruhrgas and Snam). The project has produced the
following deliveries:

a list of unintended modes of operation (top events)
the relevant parameters (so-called basic events) influencing the occurrence of such top
events
a complete integrated Compressor Fault Tree connecting all relevant basic events in a
logical manner
the importance of each parameter (based on suitable and well-known criteria)
reliable data on the likelihood of an basic event such as failure frequencies of safe
guarding equipment, relevant components or probabilities for loss of containment, the
presence of ignition sources or the occurrence of human error.

The results of this common research project can be used to optimise aspects from a
design, maintenance, operational or safety point of view. Possible features will be :

sensitivity of components in relation to the overall safety of the plant;
investigation of the influence of different design criteria for the same component;
contribution of the test interval of safe guarding components or system to the overall
failure frequency;
relative ranking of the safety level of several compressor station in order to prioritise the
weakest spots in a installation;
demonstration of safety contours to the authorities;
quantitative assessment to be used in official safety reports;

With help of the Hazard Categorization Scale, the Compressor Fault Tree together with
the Compressor Assessment Tool which are all laid down in the so-called methodology manual
one is able to assess the risk level Future research will focus on the enhancements of the
software.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

The authors of this paper like to acknowledge the work done by their colleagues in the
three task groups within the participation agreement and also their colleagues of the research,
safety and operational departments of the associated companies. DNV will be acknowledged for
their work carried out to assess failure frequencies of the basic components leading to an
undesired loss of containment of the so called typical compressor station and the conversion of
the failure frequencies into more comprehensive formulas, which have applied into the prototype
software CAT.

REFERENCES

[1] Taylor, J.R.; Risk Analysis for Process Plant, Pipelines and Transport, E&FN SPON -
1994
[2] Lees, F.P.; Loss Prevention in the Process Industries, Butterworth-Heinemann 1983
[3] DNV (1999): ARF Technical Note 14 Failure Frequencies for Process Equipment
[4] OREDA92 - Offshore Reliability Data, 2
nd
Edition (1992)
[5] OREDA97 - Offshore Reliability Data, 3
rd
Edition (1997)
[6] G.C.Bello & V.Colombari: The Human Factors in Risk Analyses of Process Plants:
The Control Room Operator Model TESEO , Reliability Engineering, Volume 1,
1980
[7] H.E.Martz & R.A.Waller: Bayesian Reliability Analysis, John Wiley & Sons, 1982
[8] J. Cook et al.: "A comprehensive program for calculation of flame radiation levels", J.
Loss Prevention in the Process Industry, 1990, Vol 3, January
[9] EFFECTS Version 2.1 Manual - TNO Dpt of Industrial Safety 1996 - The Netherlands
[10] KAMELEON FireEx 99 User Manual - SINTEF Energy Research - Norway
[11] FLACS User Manual - GEXCON AS Norway
[12] Methods for the determination of possible damage: CPR 16 E The Green book TNO
1992

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