A crucial aspect of safety in the petroleum industry is tank overfill prevention. Failure to put adequate protections in place has resulted in injuries, loss of life, and billions of dollars worth of damages worldwide, not to mention other environmental impact. Leading industry organizations, including the American Petroleum Institute (API) and the Major Incident Investigation Board (MIIB) have responded by providing authoritative guidelines for recommended safety practices. In a recent article for Tanks and Terminals Magazine, Magnetrol® Global Product Manager Kenny Heidel discussed how these industrial recommendations, as well as level control technology solutions, have helped companies improve tank overfill prevention protocols.
Improving Operating Practices
Letico, an engineering services firm based in Montreal, Canada, provides process control and systems integration solutions in various industrial sectors, including oil and gas. One major oil company contracted with Letico to review current operating practices as part of continued safety improvements. The oil company held more than a dozen storage terminals across Canada. The facilities’ tanks varied by time of construction and installation, and their designs dated back to when equipment was not as advanced, and overfill prevention did not receive a heightened focus. Given the hazards of petrochemicals storage, brought into sharp focus by the overfill incident at the Buncefield oil depot in the U.K., Letico’s customer wanted to have an accurate overview of its overfill protection status and a plan to improve effectiveness and enterprise-wide consistency of its own internal standards and engineering practices.
One crucial step in this process was auditing existing terminals and tank installations to determine if these individual operating systems were meeting or deviating from internal engineering standards, and if they would meet industry standards for safety. The API was preparing the API RP 2350 4th edition at the time, so information about how industry standards would change was not readily available. MAGNETROL was being assessed as a supplier for the project’s level instrumentation needs, and was able to share valuable insight on the forthcoming recommended practices with Letico’s team because MAGNETROL was represented on the API 2350 publication committee. The oil company could move forward in its audit with a better understanding of what to expect when API RP 2350 was released.
Implementing Level Instrumentation
Letico’s customer wanted to standardize its equipment to comply with the standards and find the best technologies to monitor tank level. The configuration of its tanks was a critical consideration when selecting these technologies. The company had to specify units for storage tanks with floating roofs and fixed roofs—so ease of installation and testing capability were of paramount concern.
MAGNETROL recommended the Model A15 point level sensor for these tanks. The A15 actuates at a discrete level and can detect the roof, as well as the liquid level, should the floating roof become submerged—a new requirement of the API RP 2350 4th Edition. MAGNETROL also recommended the Echotel® Model 961 contact ultrasonic level switch, which serves as a point level sensor that triggers the high-high alarms and is suitable for SIL 2 applications. The unit has both automatic and push-button self-test ability to enable proof testing. The oil company standardized use of this technology throughout its operations for better overfill prevention protection. With its knowledge of the API RP 2350 and high-quality level instrumentation, MAGNETROL was able to help the company comply more readily with industry safety standards.
More on tank overfill prevention standards can be found in the Tanks and Terminals article. In addition, you can also visit the MAGNETROL site on API RP 2350, where you can download a tank overfill prevention information kit to improve process safety.