PFP coatings must perform consistently in dramatically different temperatures and working environments, writes Richard Holliday, Global Director – Hydrocarbon PFP, PPG’s Protective and Marine Coatings Business.
Oil, gas and chemicals producers as well as asset owners and operators in midstream and onshore sectors of the energy supply chain, require high performance fire resistant coatings that provide proven protection in the most demanding ‘real world’ operating conditions.
Passive Fire Protection (PFP) coatings have become a permanent fixture in these industries, largely prompted by the lessons learnt from incidents such as Flixborough, Piper Alpha, Seveso and BP Texas City disasters. These days these coatings are used extensively throughout the energy and petrochemical complex to protect safety-critical structures and equipment from the threat of hydrocarbon spills, explosions and fires.
While operating companies are in the main, aware of the importance of deploying fire-resistant coatings on their fixed and floating offshore assets, selecting an epoxy coating capable of withstanding the varying demands of harsh working environments can be a more challenging process.
This is particularly true of units subjected to extreme temperatures. With business activity reviving once again in North and South America, West Africa, Middle East, Russia and Asia, it is crucial that PFP coatings do not crack when exposed to extreme variations in temperature, both because of the costs involved in repairs to coatings and more importantly to minimise the risk to personnel and assets.
PPG PITT-CHAR XP is the only truly flexible intumescent epoxy available today and offers proven hydrocarbon PFP performance against the hydrocarbon risks in diverse operating locations.
In addition to its unrivalled fire protection, the unique flexibility of PITT-CHAR XP provides enhanced resistance to cracking on flexing and vibrating structures, and exhibits excellent performance particularly under cryogenic spill and explosion conditions.
PITT-CHAR XP has been designed to resist the stress and strains induced in structures than alternative more rigid hydrocarbon PFP systems, having demonstrated a superiority of 20% over one such PFP in tests held in -10˚C to -40˚C conditions. At -40˚C, PITT-CHAR XP’s recorded tensile strength was almost two times greater than that of a rigid product.
This provides PPG with a commercial edge when it comes to satisfying demand from diverse global energy markets. As facilities, vessels and platforms operating in areas with extreme temperatures undergo significant temperature fluctuations across various sections of their steel structures, the PFP coating must be flexible enough to cope with the stress that such temperature swings will exert upon the unit as a whole.
Since 1983, PITT-CHAR XP has been proven on hundreds of projects throughout the world in onshore and offshore industries. The system is highly durable and provides effective, long lasting fire and corrosion protection. Thanks to its unique flexibility characteristics, it improves the protection for modular project components that have the potential risk for cracks and damage due to cross-continent transportation and handling.
Two recent case studies demonstrate how PPG helped clients achieve their fire safety goals in two very different, complex and demanding projects.
South African operator Sasol Chemicals is constructing the Lake Charles Chemical Project (LCCP), a 1.5m tonnes per annum ethane cracker and six downstream chemical units in Lake Charles, Louisiana, USA.
Design, procurement and construction of the LCCP project has been managed since 2013 by Fluor in a joint venture with Technip. It uses modular and stick-built fabrication with modules fabricated and coated in China and the US.
The project called for a coatings supplier with a global supply chain and a technical support function capable of ensuring its execution. The packages fabricated in China required cross-continent transportation and handling so the ability to withstand long-distance transportation and handling to minimize cracking was one of the key criteria for acceptance. A system that was not resilient enough would mean subsequent fixing on-site resulting in added costs and an extended project schedule.
High quality products with good availability, cross-border project co-ordination and on-site technical support were thus critical to ensure that the project progressed smoothly to meet its timeline.
In addition to its fireproofing and corrosion-resistant properties, PITT-CHAR XP was selected for its ability to ensure enhanced resistance to cracking, making it suitable for modular construction and semi-finished transportation. PITT-CHAR XP will play a critical role in the LCCP, designed to protecting lives and assets against hydrocarbon hazards.
The system was ideally suited to this type of multi-country location project as its unique flexibility minimized the risk of damage due to long-distance transportation and handling.
Allied to the product’s excellent performance, PPG’s technical services team also provided professional consultation, training and on-site technical support, which ensured that the customers’ application crews were fully prepared and familiar with the product to achieve maximum efficiency.
On the other side of the world, the North Caspian Operating Company (NCOC) is the operator of the giant Kashagan offshore oilfield located in the northern part of the Caspian Sea.
Netherlands-based NCOC was appointed as the single operator of Kashagan in 2015 under the North Caspian Sea Production Sharing Agreement (NCSPSA). Assets within the 5,600 km2 contract area include the Kashagan field, one of the largest petroleum developments in the world. Other assets include the Kalamkas, Aktoty and Kairan fields.
The customer had two essential requirements for the two offshore Engineering, Procurement & Construction (EPC) modules two and three. Firstly, PPG had to offer a wide range of protective coatings, including with passive fire protection, in this aggressive offshore environment. Secondly, PPG had to provide local technical and supply chain support with compliance to international standards and specifications.
After a comprehensive examination of the customer’s requirements, PPG proposed a solution that comprised the following protective coatings products for the two offshore modules:
- PPG SIGMACOVER™ 280
- PPG SIGMADUR™ 520
- PPG SIGMASHIELD 460
- PPG SIGMAZINC™ 102HS
- PPG SIGMACOVER 630
- PPG SIGMATHERM™ 230
- PPG AMERCOAT® 78HBC
- PPG PITT-CHAR XP
In total, PPG supplied over 100,000 liters to cover an area of over 40,000 m2 for the two offshore modules.
PPG’s proposal produced the ideal combination of excellent corrosion and abrasion protection with the most effective defence against the most hazardous hydrocarbon fire situations. The PITT-CHAR XP intumescent coating was applied to the blast wall section to protect the local equipment room from fire and will provide jet fire protection for up to 30 minutes.
A crucial factor in selecting PITT-CHAR XP was its proven ability to withstand thermal expansion from cold to hot climate conditions without cracking. Additional advantages for the customer were the coating’s durability and its ability to remain free from damage during transportation, assembly and commissioning.
PITT-CHAR XP provides the ultimate solution for extreme hydrocarbon hazards, such as explosions, impacts, fires, and cryogenic spills. Its unique flexibility prevents cracking and delivers superior fire protection by forming an insulating char upon exposure to high heat. This ensures the structural steel’s integrity for an extended period of time, allowing workers to evacuate the structure safely in case of fire or explosion.
This robust, long-lasting coatings system will protect the customer’s offshore EPC modules many years. The combination of SIGMASHIELD 460 epoxy coating and PITT-CHAR XP intumescent coating offers exceptional corrosion and abrasion protection combined with industry-leading protection against hydrocarbon incidents.
Kashagan field project management company Saipem declared itself pleased with timely delivery, service and technical support supplied by PPG’s throughout the project. This included performance of the products during and after application – in particular PITT-CHAR XP proved easy to apply and able to resist cracking and damage during handling, remaining in good condition when transporting the modules.
For more information go to www.ppgpmc.com/Specialized-Products/Hydrocarbon-passive-fire-protection