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Transneft: being ahead of the game

Date of publication: 4 April 2018 Printable version

Transneft representatives have answered our questions about their technical policy in the field of fire safety at the Company’s facilities and provided a detailed account of how the infamous fire at a pipeline section in Saratov Region was eliminated.

SecurityMedia Rus RIA (Russian Information Agency): What did actually happen at the section of Transneft pipeline near the village of Krasnoarmeyskoye in Saratov Region?

Transneft: On January 18, at 15:31, an oil spill occurred at the 413th kilometer of the Kuibyshev–Tikhoretsk oil trunk pipeline due to loss of containment; 900 m3 of oil polluted an area of 0.4 hectares. At 17:00, when the oil reached the village of Krasnoarmeyskoye in Engels District of Saratov Region, it caught fire from an unidentified external source; the fire covered 1,150 m2 and damaged three houses on the outskirts of Krasnoarmeyskoe, a KamAZ truck and a Renault Duster passenger car.

Workforces and other resources were allocated by Transneft Volga Region to clean up the spill in accordance with the Plan for Local Emergency Oil Spill Prevention and Response.

How was the fire extinguished and how were its consequences mitigated, what forces and means were involved?

A tank vehicle with a departmental firefighting crew of three from Ternovka oil pumping station (OPS) was the first to arrive at the site. Upon arrival, the departmental firefighting crew members from Ternovka OPS proceeded to extinguish the fire. Due to the actions of the departmental firefighting crew, the fire did not spread further. Upon arrival of divisions of the Federal Fire Service of the Saratov Region Directorate of the EMERCOM (The Emergencies Ministry) of Russia, the fire’s severity level was declared “high”. At 18:02 the fire was contained, at 18:22 the open fire was suppressed and at 22:50 the consequences of the fire were eliminated. At 00:15 on January 21, Transneft Volga Region completed repairs and restoration works at the Kuibyshev – Tikhoretsk oil trunk pipeline and at 01:58 oil transportation was resumed. The staff of emergency operation divisions of oil pumping stations as well as the personnel of the Central Maintenance Division of Transneft Volga Region were engaged in the repairs. Technical assistance was also rendered by the staff of Transneft Druzhba CMD (Central Maintenance Divisions) and other entities of the Transneft system. A total of 345 employees of the Transneft system entities (hereinafter Transneft subsidiaries) took part in the mitigation of the accident; 204 special-purpose vehicles and equipment units were involved. Environmental analysis and monitoring of water and soil was performed continuously.

What is the progress on the investigation into the causes of the emergency?

Currently, the Supervisory and Preventive Efforts Department at the Saratov Region Directorate of the EMERCOM (The Emergencies Ministry) of Russia is investigating the fire as required by Article 144 of The Criminal Procedure Code of the Russian Federation. A committee has been established by the Middle Volga Department of the Federal Environmental, Industrial and Nuclear Supervision Service of Russia (Rostekhnadzor) to conduct a technical investigation of the causes of the accident at the 413th kilometer of the Kuibyshev – Tikhoretsk trunk pipeline.

What are the specific features of Transneft technical policy in terms of fire safety at the –°ompany’s facilities?

A fire safety system is implemented at the facilities of Transneft subsidiaries. In order to improve the fire safety at the facilities of Transneft subsidiaries, and taking into account the prioritised areas of activity, the Fire Protection Development Concept for Transneft Facilities has been adopted. Effective use of the existing scientific and technical background along with introduction of the most recent developments and scientific findings allow us to develop the strategic areas of the fire safety system at the facilities of Transneft subsidiaries. A coordinated science and technology policy created to increase the efficiency and reliability of operation is being pursued, scientific and technical relations with leading organizations researching fire safety are being established; the necessary measures are being implemented with regard to technical regulations, licensing and functioning of fire safety systems.

To what extent does the Company succeed in following the state policy of import substitution? What, in your opinion, should be taken into account when choosing technical means and fire extinguishing systems in order to achieve the optimal value for money ratio?

The Company is implementing its import substitution strategy by increasing the share of equipment, materials and technologies of domestic origin used in our operations. Their technical specifications meet the standards established by the Company; they ensure an improved operational reliability of the oil and petroleum product trunk pipeline system and guarantee compliance with the technical and environmental safety requirements when transporting oil and petroleum products within the system. As part of the strategy, Transneft and Russian manufacturers have developed and implemented industry-specific regulations defining the requirements for fire fighting and fire safety equipment that is currently in use. For example, since 2014 Transneft has been purchasing fire extinguishing equipment manufactured in Russia. Together with Russian manufacturers, domestic production of automated firefighting foam towers has been launched. Over 40 types of foam extinguishing systems and other firefighting equipment are manufactured at Transneftemash Factory of Velikiye Luki belonging to Transneft Upper Volga. The main requirements when choosing technical equipment and fire extinguishing systems include reliability, zero failure rate, simple and convenient operation as well as maintainability.

What resources are available at Transneft subsidiaries to respond to fires, accidents and emergencies (fire safety departments including volunteer firefighting units, blow-out teams, emergency rescue teams, etc.)? What are the plans for equipping and reequipping these units?

At present, 127 firefighting divisions have been established at the facilities of Transneft subsidiaries with tank farms, among them 49 department fire fighting divisions and 78 divisions operating on a contractual basis, including 59 contractual divisions belonging to the FFS (Federal Fire Service) of the SFS (State Fire Service). The total headcount of the firefighting units exceeds 5,000 people. The firefighting crews have over 500 units of equipment at their disposal, including up-to-date firefighting equipment with high-capacity pumps such as the ATs-100 and the ATs-150 pumps and automated firefighting foam towers that ensure supply of low expansion foam to the surface of the tanks at a rate of 100 litres per second. At over 200 facilities of Transneft subsidiaries that have no tank farms, fire stations have been created with a 24/7 fire duty and volunteer fire brigades have been set up.

As required by Federal Laws 116-FZ "On Industrial Safety of Hazardous Production Facilities" and 151-FZ "On Emergency Rescue Services and the Status of Rescuers", 40 emergency rescue teams (ERT) have been established at Transneft subsidiaries on the basis of specialized directorates for emergency prevention and response (SDEPRs), central maintenance divisions (CMDs), emergency line maintenance divisions (ELMDs) and emergency and repair services (ERSs), among them 16 professional teams. The total headcount of ERS rescuers amounts to 2,679 people, among them 687 professional rescuers.

The aforementioned divisions are equipped with all necessary special-purpose equipment required for response to emergency situations at Transneft trunk pipelines facilities.

14 firefighting divisions have been created at the facilities of Transneft Volga Region, among them 9 department firefighting crews and 5 divisions operating on a contractual basis (3 contractual divisions belonging to the FFS (Federal Fire Service) of the SFS (State Fire Service). The total headcount of these divisions is 419 people who have 28 firefighting equipment units at their disposal, 24 of which are on standby, including 7 ATs-150 pumps, 15 ATs-100 pumps, and 7 automated foam towers. Two emergency rescue teams have been established, one being a professional emergency rescue team.

The total headcount of ERT rescuers amounts to 199 people, among them 27 professional rescuers.

How often is diagnostics of linear sections of trunk pipelines performed, and what technical means are used for this purpose? What defects can be detected using such diagnostics and how are they remedied? Had the pipeline section where the accident occurred been inspected?

In order to timely identify all unreliable elements of trunk pipeline facilities, Transneft Diascan performs regular technical diagnostics of pipeline transport facilities, including procedures that involve pipeline inspection gadgets (in-line inspection tools) such as:

- multichannel geometry tool (detection of dents, buckles, out-of-roundness, determination of radii, pipeline bending directions and angles);

- combined magnetic in-line defectoscope (detection of slit-shaped and corrosion defects);

- pipeline positioning device (determining a pipeline’s position and measuring its displacement during operation);

- combined magnetic ultrasonic in-line defectoscope (detection of longitudinal slits, defects of longitudinal and circumferential welds and scratch marks);

- USK.03 ultrasonic in-line defectoscope (detection of corrosion, laminations, scratch marks, displaced edges of welded joints);

- ultrasonic in-line defectoscope for detection of arbitrarily oriented defects, finding randomly oriented slits and scratch marks.

The principle of their operation is based on various physical non-destructive testing technologies designed to detect and measure various kinds of defects.

As required by Transneft’s regulatory documents, diagnostic inspections of trunk pipelines using in-line inspection tools take place at least once every three to six years. The Kuibyshev – Tikhoretsk oil trunk pipeline had also been duly inspected.

What fire safety innovations are implemented at your facilities (incorporated in the fire extinguishing, emergency alert, evacuation, fire protection and other systems); what retardants do you use? What criteria does the Company rely on when choosing equipment?

In accordance with the Fire Protection Development Concept for Transneft Facilities, we have identified the most advantageous firefighting systems. The following measures are being implemented as part of the programme to improve the performance of automatic fire extinguishing systems at Transneft:

- equipping petrol tanks with subsurface firefighting systems and adopting the AFFF type foaming agent modified for extinguishing ethanol fuels;

- improved stability of distribution pipelines used in fire extinguishing systems and water cooling systems;

- design of explosion-proof foam generators as well as foam generators that are applicable when the solution supply pressure is low;

- determining the requirements for plastic or composite pipes and their application in fire extinguishing and water cooling systems.

Automated subsurface or combination fire extinguishing systems with the AFFF type foaming agent and automated water cooling are used as the main fire extinguishing system for tanks at Transneft facilities.

Please tell us about the research and development activities of the Company in the field of fire safety. What new developments have appeared in this area?

Based on the analysis of the fire safety conditions at the facilities of Transneft subsidiaries, measures to enhance fire protection systems and mobile fire extinguishing equipment as well as fire prevention measures and organisation of the activities of firefighting divisions have been provided for in the Fire Protection Development Concept for facilities of Transneft subsidiaries.

R&D works are being carried out and Transneft regulatory documents regarding fire safety are being improved.

The key areas of development are:

- conducting research to determine the maximum oil viscosity value allowing use of subsurface firefighting units;

- conducting research to improve explosion stability of pipelines used in firefighting units in the case of a gas and air mixture explosion;

- amending the design standards of equipping  petrol tanks with subsurface or combined firefighting units;

- defining the technical requirements for the AFFF type foaming agents modified for extinguishing high-octane petrol types;

- modifying of the design of rupture disks in subsurface firefighting units to ensure their containment;

- upgrading AUDP-100 and AUDP-150 automated foaming agent dosing units used in fire tank vehicles and automated firefighting foam towers at the facilities of Transneft subsidiaries in order to improve the reliability and efficiency of the dosing systems.

Furthermore, Recommendations For Extinguishing Oil and Petroleum Products Fires have been developed, where the extinguishing tactics is determined for fires at tank farms. The Recommendations take into account the following conditions: whether up-to-date mobile fire extinguishing equipment is available at the facilities of a Transneft subsidiary, if a modern high-performance AFFF type foaming agent is used and whether the firefighting division’s personnel has the necessary level of tactical skills.

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