March, 1998

This is a repeating event

199804MarAll DaySonat Exploration Vessel Overpressurization 1998Sonat Exploration Co. Pitkin (US-LA) Origin: CSB Lessons:Asset integrity,Operating Procedures,Risk AssessmentIndustry:Onshore Oil & GasCountry:United StatesLanguage:ENLoC:Overpressure TagsRelief Systems

Summary

At approximately 6:15 p.m. on March 4, 1998, a catastrophic vessel failure and fire occurred near Pitkin, Louisiana, at the Temple 22-1 Common Point Separation Facility owned by Sonat Exploration Co. Four workers who were near the vessel were killed, and the facility sustained significant damage.

The facility housed two petroleum separation trains and consisted of separation equipment, piping, storage vessels, and a gas distribution system. The separation trains were designed to produce crude oil and natural gas from well fluid, derived from two nearby wells. The vessel ruptured due to overpressurization, releasing flammable material which then ignited.

KEY ISSUES:
• DESIGN & HAZARD REVIEWS
• PRESSURE-RELIEF DEVICES
• OPERATING PROCEDURES

ROOT CAUSES:
1. Sonat management did not use a formal engineering design review process or require effective hazard analyses in the course of designing and building the facility.
2. Sonat engineering specifications did not ensure that equipment that could potentially be exposed to high-pressure hazards was adequately protected by pressure-relief devices.


Image Credit: CSB

Origin

CSBUS Chemical Safety Board

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