Economics and Process Engineering

As the famous artist, Vincent Van Gogh, said, “Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.” The “small things” in process engineering are no different and can have a big influence on a project’s bottom line. The impact of process engineering on the economics of a capital project is often overlooked…

Keyed-Valve Interlocks

  Several years ago, while working in a refinery, I noticed a relief valve with its inlet block valve completely closed. I radioed an operator for assistance. Within minutes, two operators arrived and confirmed that the valve should not be closed. They opened the valve and thanked me for notifying them. In following up a…

Considerations when Establishing a Mechanical Integrity Program for a Process Safety Management Regulated Facility

Energy organizations such as chemical manufacturers, oil and gas production, and even pharmaceutical manufacturers strive to maintain a Process Safety Management (PSM) program to ensure the safety of their employees and those around their facilities. Many of these organizations are familiar with the requirements of PSM including the process of conducting Process Hazard Analysis (PHA)…

PHAs and Flare Systems

At every facility, there is a point during the process hazard analysis when the team inevitably dives into “the black hole” of flare/relief/scrubber systems.  Following strict HAZOP analysis methodology, a team documents all deviations from normal operating limits.  However, with most relief systems, this leaves the team facing numerous causes, and with each source, having…

Group & Self Accountability in Process Hazard Analyses

When performing a process hazard analysis (PHA), often people of different positions and specializations are gathered in the meeting room to assess the chosen process on its safety and ability to safeguard against inherent hazards. These groups can include personnel from maintenance, operations, engineering, HS&E (Health, Safety, and Environmental), and management. This diversity of thought…