In the middle of the North Sea Pt. 9

A Real, A Fake

As you will be aware there is safety and then there is offshore safety. The need for it is impossible to calculate and the preparation that is required for almost every section of the work it immersive. The calculations done to preserve a process safety point can only go so far, and the allowances for certain parts of the whole shebang to go... well, bang, are quite large to accommodate the fact that if it were to go bang, you'd loose... well, the whole shebang.

So, after lunch yesterday I went back to the HP Condensate and Refrigeration package, and sat down. I unfurled my P&IDs, got my note book out, dropped my pencil in some lube oil, and then stood up, stretched, yawned, and headed up the stairs to the roof of the platform. As I turned around the staircase to head upwards, a noticed a unusual sight.

Rain. Rain indoors. Quizzically I looked again, double taking the vista of water pouring from the roof. I bounded down the stairs and opened the door into the room to find a spray of water jetting from a seal oil cooler at tremendous pressure. It was rebounding back off the roof and into the power turbine pipework, instantly turning into steam on contact with high temperature steelwork.

I called the control room, and they sent out a man to investigate 9probbably not believing me) and he soon saw what all my fuss was about. He called other to his aid and they turned off everything and thanked me for letting them know.

But what if it has been gas rather than water? Or process oil rather than harmless old H2O? Might have been a different story.

The fake emergency was one at night where we all had to don our life jackets and hang about in a corridor for 45 minutes whilst the Emergency Response Teams had a little play with some fake injuries and fighting a fake fire. Not fun, you might assume, and you'd be right - but seeing that water jetting out of that pipe I am glad that they insist on these drills.