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Compressor Fire on an Offshore Platform

Country: USA - North America

Location: OFFSHORE : Other offshore

Incident Date: 7 May 2014   Time: ---

Type of Activity: Unspecified - other

Type of Injury: Explosions or burns

Function: Production

Platform operators were preparing to re-start a flash gas compressor that had automatically shut down on a Level Safety High due to liquids accumulation in the inlet scrubber. The operators bled liquids into the skid drain pan, which were then ignited by an unknown ignition source. The operators were outside the skid and immediately sounded the fire alarm and pressed the ESD. All POB were accounted for. Employees assigned to the fire response team deployed as planned and brought the fire under control.

What Went Wrong?:

  • Engineering design of the compressor skid system does not prevent accumulation of liquids above the compressor/scrubber assembly. Liquids must be drained periodically, and are dependent upon administrative controls (procedures/training).
  • Hydrocarbons should not be bled into an open drain pan due to risk of ignition.
  • The correct method of removing liquid from the system was not adequately understood by all operators involved in the process.

Corrective Actions and Recommendations:

  1. A spring loaded valve was installed to drain the piping prior to startup and the procedure was revised accordingly. All platform operators were retrained on the process and procedural changes prior to bringing this particular compressor system back online.
  2. Emergency response training and drills are effective and valuable. The fire team responded as trained and extinguished the fire.
  3. Overhead cable trays and cables were damaged during the fire. The cable trays were installed according to approved design standards, and fire suppression activated as designed. In GOM operations, cable tray installation does not typically require heat shielding and/or deluge fire protection. Even though protection is not required, other operators may consider cable tray protection as a potential learning from this event.

Safety Alert number: 282
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