A lease operator received a call, early one morning, alerting him that one of his facilities was on fire. A storm blew through an area and in its wake; oil was reported in a creek that should have been safely inside of a tank surrounded by a berm. In another case, production was lost when a pipe fitting failed causing gas to blow to the atmosphere. These are all examples of real life events that happened because oil and gas production facilities were designed or installed incorrectly.

Many well sites, tank batteries and production facilities are at risk due to design or installation errors. These errors may have occurred when the facility was built or because the facility had been continually "added on" through the years. Design flaws can lead to equipment failure, lost production, injuries or harm to the environment.

Equipment reviews, looking for possible design problems, of thousands of onshore facilities have been made over the past five years. These facility inspections have taken place in thirteen different states and included varied sites: oil, gas, water, low-pressure, high-pressure, old and new. It was found that most design problems fell into several different categories.

One of the key results of these facility reviews has been the emergence of ten areas where facility operators can look to see if their facilities could be an accident waiting to happen. Many facilities examined had one or more design flaws that fell into these categories. Solutions to solving design problems have already been addressed by codes, good industry practices or regulations. Operators can greatly improve the safety of their facilities by looking for and correcting basic design errors discussed in this paper.

This paper reviews the ten key areas for facility operators to look at in order to make their facilities safer. Use of this paper should enable facility engineers, supervisors and workers to better identify "at risk" conditions and work to correct them.

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