Hot work made safe
The oil companies and contractors wanted a more complex system, with focus on eliminating the human factor, so as to conduct the hot work in as safely a manner as possible.
Eliminating the human factor
The challenge was to engineer and bring to market a solution that would automatically detect any flammable gas above a specific set-point, monitor potential ingress of gas in the habitat, control the air supply to the habitat with gas detection included plus monitor the positive pressure level in the habitat.
These were all tasks performed by personnel beforehand, with portable personal gas detectors and other tools. This was both very labor intensive and posed a considerable risk of human error.
The industry wanted a more complete and technical solution. StS took the challenge.
StS came up with a solution consisting of an ATEX central control unit connected to four independent gas detectors. In addition, air supply, which previously was supplied by the rigs native air supply, now were to be supplied by an ATEX-approved fan with included gas detection and a damper that would shut down air supply to the habitat if flammable gases over a certain setpoint were detected.
The system also included a manometer which would continuously monitor the air pressure in the habitat against drops below a pre-set level.
All functions were connected to and controlled by the central control unit, which would cut of welding power and sound an alarm if gas were detected, the pressure dropped or gas were detected in the air intake.
A safer and more cost-efficient system
The system was, and is, a tremendous success.
By creating this innovative solution, StS solved the issue with potential human error and the labor-intensive manner, which safely operating and monitoring a pressurised welding habitat was earlier.
The system was ATEX-approved by DNV for use in zone 1 and zone 2 and quickly became the industry standard which we today know as the fully automated pressurised habitat system.
StS worked together closely with the oil companies and NORSOK, which is the legislative framework for how HSEQ should be maintained on the Norwegian continental shelf, and put together what is today the HSEQ standards which dictates what a pressurised welding habitat should consist of, how it should be erected and operated.
Both the HSEQ standards, technological solutions and method used for habitats today stem from the development work and ingenuity that was put towards a common goal by StS, the oil companies and the contractors.