Abstract

Environmental protection and safety considerations have always been a concern for the operators, manufacturers, and service companies who are involved in the exploration and production of hydrocarbons. Unfortunately however, while the regulatory standards have become more stringent, the general economic climate has declined, causing a difficult struggle for operators when attempting to maintain economic feasibility between supporting safety and environmental concerns and operational efficiency. This struggle is complicated by aging fields which, though still producing, are beyond their peak producing years. This paper will discuss a method that was used by a major Asian Operator and a producer of oilfield equipment to develop a new direct-acting fail-safe safety system for existing equipment that could support current operational safety requirements as well as provide a cost-effective alternative to replacing the entire system. This joint effort resulted in development of a low-pressure, pneumatic-override, spring-closed, direct-acting actuator with two fail-closed systems that was able to provide a low-cost solution to the problem.

Also covered will be the interaction between the operator and manufacturer that was needed to tailor the system to meet the specific requirements for ease of installation, ease of maintenance, and protection of personnel and the environment within the designated cost constraints. Additionally, the pros and cons of such a system and the cost considerations when comparing these double fail-safe direct-acting systems to revamping an existing field with conventional reverse acting safety systems will be provided.

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