There is an increasing trend in the oil and gas industry for the use of Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) techniques to improve the oil recovery from the reservoirs. The industry is well established to manage the hazards associated with hydrocarbon liquids and gases. However, polymer powder, used for Chemical EOR, presents a new set of hazards that needs to be incorporated into the HSE design of these facilities. This paper presents the main HSE design aspects to be addressed for the management of the process safety, environmental and personnel safety hazards introduced by polymer EOR facilities in the oil and gas industry.

Total has conducted a number of Chemical EOR studies and implemented pilot plants, with an aim to developing full oil fields based on polymer flooding of the reservoirs. A comprehensive review of these polymer projects has been carried out and the HSE lessons learnt have been assessed. Information from polymer suppliers has also been reviewed, supported by an extensive literature review of the HSE requirements and standards for other powder handling industries. The review focused on the HSE design aspects for those polymer EOR projects that use powder as the source material.

Hazards related to the handling of powder based products are effectively managed in other industries and documentation exists to guide designers on the requirements for managing these hazards in their processes. The use of polymer powder is not new to the oil and gas industry, however, very little guidance exists, to account for this hazard as part of the HSE design of the oil and gas facility, as it is less understood compared to the hazards presented by flammable oil and gases. An HSE guideline has been prepared to enable a better understanding of the hazards of using polymer powder in EOR facilities. The guideline serves as a bridge to facilitate the incorporation of this new hazard into an already established safety design management process. This paper presents the main HSE design aspects from this guidance document and addresses key areas such as flammability and dust explosion; area classification and ignition control; drainage and spill containment. The personnel safety requirements to protect the plant operators are also addressed.

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