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Compressor selection case study

Hydrocarbon Engineering,


John Barron, Sureclean Managing Director, approached specialist safety and gas services company Sabre Safety with the company’s requirements for a four outlet BA Compressor. Sabre agreed to develop this product for Sureclean. The product is a bespoke design for Sureclean.

Sureclean had a number of specific requirements which included a containerised monitor which could provide constant air monitoring and a temperature controlled system which could provide quality air for up to four people at once. As part of the procurement process, Sureclean Directors visited the manufacturing site to see examples of other bespoke systems being manufactured and ensure that all of Sureclean’s requirements would be met and HSEQ standards adhered to throughout the manufacturing process.

Sureclean’s operational requirements have been considered throughout the design stages to ensure it is built to the company’s required specification. The SabreAir Zone 1 compressor meets Lloyds, DNV, ABS and NORSOK 15 standards.

Commercial and operational considerations

The four outlet BA compressor provides real time air quality monitoring, with a ‘plug and play’ system to allow Sureclean to get to work immediately. Sureclean see this system as giving them a significant advantage over their competitors, within a climate where all companies are looking for the safest, most controlled way of working.

The SabreAir improves safety by containing all operations within Zone 1, which removes risks arising in other zones. Zone 1 is an area with a high probability of gas being present. Zone 0 is an area where gas is present all the time; and in Zone 2, gas is not normally present.

Time and safety considerations

Sureclean specialises in tank cleaning operations, with confined space entry often a necessity to carry out these works on offshore installations and FPSOs. The safety of employees is the main priority when confined space works are in operation, and, to ensure this, the company needs the latest technology.

Time is also a significant factor whilst carrying out these works and it is anticipated that the compressor, being self contained will offer savings on time and cost. It will allow Sureclean to start work immediately whilst simultaneously providing high quality air.

It is essential that Sabre Safety equipment is Atex certified for use in Zone 1 hazardous areas, allowing the compressors to be as close to the working environment as possible. Sureclean were looking for a BA compressor that would provide product up time and be ‘plug and play’ equipment, with operations able to start immediately. There is no need to set anything up, and there is no need to monitor the ductwork either. This means that the standby operator at the compressor can concentrate solely on the air delivery and looking after the men at the worksite, so everyone can focus on the task in hand. In the Sabreair, air is continuously available 24/7, even if scopes grow, and there is no downtime waiting on air bottle delivery, refilling or charging.

Support, training and backup

Sureclean require support, training and backup to be onhand. The location of the Sabre Aberdeen support base is seen as an advantage: customer support can be easily provided from Sabre’s local office and communication between the two companies is carried out easily and effectively. Although the compressors themselves are easy to operate, Sureclean employees require to be trained in BA maintenance and this can all be done at Sabre Safety’s Aberdeen training centre or offshore, depending on Sureclean’s requirements. Servicing can be carried out onshore or offshore, another important consideration for Sureclean in terms of operational flexibility.

The safety system

Regular HP air bottles often provide moist air which is not temperature controlled. This LP BA compressor of a multistage filtration and dehydration unit is temperature controlled for real time air quality monitoring and also provides a failsafe integral emergency back up air source. An auto shutdown facility activates in the event of any ingress of gas into the Zone 1 area. It is a patented system that has been designed by Sabre’s own in house gas safety team in Aberdeen. Escape air is automatically supplied in the event of an auto shutdown, providing air quality that exceeds the breathing air requirements of BS:EN12021:1999

Operational issues

The four outlet LP BA SabreAir Compressor is self contained allowing four employees to work simultaneously within a confined space, using only one compressor. This will allow Sureclean to create a smaller footprint than using multiple bottle airbanks. Compactness and manoeuvrability are important considerations in the busy offshore environment.

By way of contrast, other ‘designated’ Zone 1 compressors run trunking into a Zone 1 area, which can require to be routed from 60 – 70 ft away in a typical scenario, and the installation of a fan (and associated cabling) to pressurise the trunking. Monitoring is carried out to ensure that positive pressure is being maintained, but this is at a distance from the compressor. Measures such as these mount up and make such systems harder to maintain and operate.

The integrity of the air supply in the SabreAir is constantly monitored by a Sureclean BA Technician. Together with the built in failsafe, this provides confined space operatives with constant peace of mind.

Projects Director, Alan Stewart, commented ‘we see technology and the latest equipment as providing enhanced safety and productivity simultaneously. We believe that technology leads the way when it comes to solving the problem of safely and efficiently carrying out confined space entry works. It is all part of an investment to meet current client requirements, as well as future demand within our global industry.’

Wider applications

The new Zone 1 compressor from Sabre Safety will be of use across a wide range of applications, from shotblasting and spraypainting to welding and confined space working including decom and leg entry work on rigs.

Written by Allan Cameron, Sabre Safety, Technical Director

Edited by Claira Lloyd

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