Pipework failure at an oil refinery

A recent incident at a UK oil refinery leads HSE to remind all those responsible who have similar installations of the need for detailed attention to pipework integrity.

In situations where there is a risk of corrosion to the inside surfaces of pipework as a result of contaminants in the process stream, dutyholders are reminded of possible pipework failure leading to fire and explosion involving highly flammable hydrocarbons. The most recent incident involved an overhead line from a de-ethaniser column at a bend downstream from a water injection point.

Operators of refineries are reminded to take all necessary measures to prevent major accidents including appropriate inspection and maintenance programmes. Industry codes such as those issued by the Energy Institute (Model Code of Safe Practice for the Petroleum Industry: Part 13: Pressure piping systems examination) or the American Petroleum Institute (API 570 Piping Inspection Code) give details of such practices. Attention is drawn to the need for inspection of piping systems that are susceptible to specific types and areas of deterioration such as at injection points.

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Updated 2019-11-21