Cause & Consequence
- Fire or explosion
Description of Process
In recent years, offshore operators on the Outer Continental Shelf have reported multiple flash-fire incidents that resulted in injuries and damage to facilities. Investigations found that static discharge was a contributing factor in each of the incidents. Flash-fire incidents occurred during multiple types of operations, including maintenance on a control panel when natural gas was being vented, or when flammable fluids were drained into a bucket or as flammable liquids were transferred between containers. A static discharge can occur when an electrical charge accumulates on the surfaces of two materials, one with a positive charge and the other with a negative charge, that make contact and are separated. A static discharge can occur between two solids, a solid and a liquid, or between two non-mixable liquids. The heat generated from a static discharge is somewhere between 3,000oF and 6,000oF and can create enough energy to start a fire regardless of the flashpoint of hydrocarbon-based fluids.
Safely discharging the accumulation of static electricity requires bonding and grounding of any conductive equipment with the potential to produce electricity.
Download the attached PDF for the full safety alert and recommended practices from the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSSE)