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FIREWATER SYSTEM DESIGN

In the petroleum and natural gas industries, multiple safety barriers are used in order to control
and mitigate the effects of fires and explosions. Active Fire Protection (AFP) system is an
example of a safety barrier, used to prevent escalation of fires and explosions. The AFP system
can act either as a preventive safety barrier (reduce ignition probability) or as a mitigating safety
barrier (preventing escalation/provide cooling). When designing AFP systems, multiple factors
are taken into consideration, such as: applicable regulations and standards, hazard scenarios,
application rates, hydraulic calculations, material selection, pump system arrangement incl.
sectionalisation valves as well as the required technical documentation for new and legacy assets.
This article will focus on some important factors and briefly discuss typically encountered issues
in the area of AFP.
The applicable regulations and standards vary among petroleum and natural gas producing
countries. In Norway, Petroleum Safety Authority (PSA) is the independent government
regulator, responsible for safety, emergency preparedness and working environment matters in
the Norwegian continental shelf with certain requirements in the area of AFP. In addition to PSA,
NORSOK, ISO, NFPA standards, industry guidelines, as well as various company requirements
are relevant depending on project specific issues.

Various minimum water application rates (lpm/m2) apply for different fire areas, depending on
the extent of fire hazard and size of the fire area. This will affect type of nozzles, pipe and valve
sizing. It will eventually create a pressure and flow requirement that the pumps need to deliver
(pump sizing) to the ring main and the consumers.

During pre-engineering/detailed engineering phase, hydraulic pressure loss calculations are


performed thoroughly to eliminate possible errors and optimize design. Furthermore, hydraulic
pressure loss calculations are carried out for the nozzle layout, piping layout, ringmain system
(including take-off to firewater consumers) and pumps and feed pipes to ringmain. The hydraulic
calculations may reveal unacceptable imbalances within the nozzle distribution system, in
addition to potential bottlenecks. Corrective actions are then taken as soon as possible to avoid
costly relocation of equipment, such as re-routing of piping, re-dimensioning and nozzle type
changes.

Hydraulic calculations are typically performed in two main steps:

Step 1: System calculation – establish flow and pressure requirement for firewater consumers
(e.g. deluge systems, monitors and sprinkler systems).

Step 2: Scenario calculation – describe the different scenarios, comparison of calculated flow and
pressure available from firewater pumps (dimensioning firewater scenarios) and the flow and
pressure requirements (as defined above).

Information from 3D/ISO drawings are transferred to the hydraulic calculation program which
will identify the “most remote nozzle” (i.e. nozzle with the highest pressure drop compared to
the pressure source). This is the nozzle in the network which is hardest to supply with the
required amount of water at the correct pressure. The most remote nozzle is normally at the far
end or highest level of the network or a combination of these. Other remote nozzle locations may
indicate poor design, i.e. undersizing of pipes or too many fittings in pipe routing (e.g. bends,
valves and tees). If this is the case, one needs to carefully check the calculation model to identify
any possible improvements to design. The figure and table below describes a deluge system
scenario
example:

As shown in the example above, it is essential to calculate the pressure drop in the system in
order to identify firewater pump pressure requirements. During such an exercise, the FW design
is optimized in order to minimize the required firewater pump pressure and flow requirements.
Moreover, the results, system and scenario calculations should be documented in separate
hydraulic reports. It is also essential to establish ISO drawings and relevant drawings (such as
P&IDs and PFDs) with corresponding information, such as line sizing, nozzle types, valve
locations and pumps.

Material selection is another important issue, where a decision should be made early in the
design process. There are several applicable materials, and it is important to choose a material
appropriate for the intended use, such as titanium. Titanium has excellent corrosion resistance;
hence it is a suitable for service in salty deluge systems (e.g. when seawater is used as firewater).
For such systems, titanium is often used in ring main including valves and flanges, distribution
system/headers, deluge system, deluge valve and nozzles.

Another typical material selection is super duplex. It has a high strength and good resistance
against the most typical types of corrosion. Super duplex is corrosion-resistant in seawater below
25°C. Super Duplex is often used in ring main incl. valves and flanges, distribution
system/headers, deluge system and deluge valve as long as the temperature does not exceed
20°C.

Cupronickel (CuNi) alloys has a good resistance against many types of corrosion. These types of
alloys show also good resistance against marine growth thanks to the presence of copper. A
deluge system consisting of CuNi could, however, have problems in terms of withstanding
pressure surges and as well as erosion. This is due to low mechanical strength of the CuNi alloys.
During stagnant conditions, the CuNi may also be a source for corrosion problems.

Further, Glass-reinforced plastic (GRP) is a composite material made of a plastic reinforced by


fine fibers made of glass. GRP is often used for deluge pipes with large dimensions, due to its
inherent strength and light weight. GRP is, however, particularly vulnerable to pressure surges
(water hammer effect) and such loads must be minimized in design, for example with use of
dampers. The vulnerability of GRP piping if exposed to fire and the requirement for PFP should
also be carefully considered.

Carbon steel and Austenitic steel are typically not recommended in firewater systems due to
problems related to corrosion. These materials should only be considered used in small
modifications on existing systems (with identical material), which has a short remaining life
time.

For further information about material selection reference is made to relevant standards &
guidelines, such as Norwegian Oil and Gas Association, Guideline 075.

ORS Consulting offers extensive hands-on experience from the oil and gas and LNG industry in
the area of fire protection engineering. ORS Consulting has specialist and expert engineers with
experience from engineering- and construction phases. Our specialists can provide the right
expertise to your project for design of completely new AFP system as well as modifications to
existing AFP systems.
Deluge application rate – TOTAL Spec

In accordance to NFPA 15 and ISO 13702, API 2030, API 14G, FIRE PROTECTION Handbook,
lee loss prevention in the Process industry
Typical Application rates for Deluge Water Spray System: (API 2030)

Note 1: Columns shall be deluged up to a height of 12.2 m above grade, or a level


at which a pool fire could form. Fire sources shall be investigated to confirm that
equipment/structures above 12.2m are not impacted by the effects of fire. Manual
fire fighting means shall be provided in the vicinity to enable fire fighters to cover
higher parts of the concerned equipment.
Note 2: Deluge for wells shall be made by means of High Velocity (HV) spray
nozzles.

Deluge Water Spray System:


 An automated water spray system where the water distribution piping is equipped with open spray
nozzles for discharging over a protection area or equipment.
 Deluge water Spray systems designed according to NFPA 15, API 2030, IP 19 guidelines and local
regulations.
 The main objectives are any one or combination of the following :
o Extinguishment of fire
o Control of burning
o Exposure protection
o Prevention of fire
2. Factors determining the requirement of Deluge Water Spray System:
 Spray System for Process Pumps:
o When pumps handle hydrocarbon liquids (flammable or combustible) at temperatures
above its flash point.
o Located Close to equipment that can be quickly damaged by pump fire.
o Where protection of pumps is impractical by monitors/hydrants and potential of fire
escalation is possible.
 Spray System for Pipe racks:
To be evaluated based on potential of pool fires or severe exposures below the pipe rack.
Spray System for Vessels & Columns :
High pressure vessels (>10 barg) handling flammable / combustible liquids with inventory above 5
tons and also based on project philosophy.
Vessels handling flammable / combustible liquids and located in a congested area.
Spray System (cooling) for Atmospheric Storage Tanks:
API 2001 recommends protection of the portion of shell and roof not in contact with the liquid
content of tank. (@4.1 lpm/m2)
Sectionalization of the spray rings should be done for optimization of water quantity.

Type of Deluge Valves:

 Type of Deluge Valves (based on operation):


Complete On/off deluge Valve: These are deluge valves which open fully upon activation and closed
fully upon resetting.
Variable Pressure Control Deluge Valve: Preset constant Valve downstream side pressure is
maintained irrespective of the upstream pressure.
 Type of Activation of Deluge Valves :
o Hydraulic Activation : By means of hydraulic Quartzoid bulb detection
o Electrical Activation : By means of F&G detection system
o Electro-Pneumatic Activation : By means of pneumatic Quartzoid bulb and/or F&G
detection system

4. Deluge valve – Principle of Operation:

 Area of upper chamber of DV is twice that of the lower chamber


 Force in Upper Chamber = Pressure x 2 Area
 Force in Lower Chamber = Pressure x Area
 Pressure is same on both sides.
 Force in upper chamber is more than that of the lower chamber
5. Deluge Valve & By-Pass Valves & Location:
 Deluge valves are always 15 meter away from the protected equipment and any other process
equipment. (from pipe racks at least 6 m preferred where 15 not possible)
 Manual by-pass valves shall be located opposite side or tapped from another part of the ring main.
 Manual valve shall be 30 meter from the protected equipment.
 Both valves shall be upstream of the wind direction preferably.
By Pass Valves & Deluge Valve Location

6. Deluge Skid Specifications/ Requirements:


 The type of Deluge Valve mounting (ie vertical or horizontal).
 Vertical mounting are more space saving
 Where ambient temperature is of concern, the skids shall be inside enclosures and shall be
provided with a heater to maintain the temperature at above 5 deg.C
 All components should be within the enclosure
o Space for deluge Skids to be indicated in the plot plan for the required size at early
stages of the plot plan development.
o Deluge Skids shall be at least 2 meter away from the road edges.
o Electrical Heat Tracing of water filled pipe lines up to the deluge valve is required in
freezing climatic conditions.
 All components shall be listed/ approved type.
 Specify vendor limits clearly in the P&I Ds.

7. Water Spray Nozzles:

 An open water discharge device that, when discharging water under pressure, will distribute the
water in a specific, directional pattern.
 Types of water spray Nozzles :
o Medium Velocity – Used for vessels, pumps, cable galleries, etc.
o High Velocity – Used for Transformer spray system.
o Pressure required for MV Nozzles 1.4 bar(g) and for HV nozzles about 3.4 barg for optimum
performance.
 Minimum Pipe Sizes in Deluge Systems (as per NFPA 15) is 1”.

8. Piping Requirements for Deluge System:

 Piping Requirements as per NFPA :


o 40, Carbon Steel (Galvanized) up to 8”
o 30, Carbon Steel (Galvanized) 8” & above
 Piping Installation requirements :
o Suitable slope in the dry section of pipe
o Provide Low point drain at suitable location
 Pipe Velocity considerations: NFPA 15 allows up to 7.94 m/sec of water velocity for the deluge
downstream side. However, please check project piping design philosophy where velocity may be
limited to 5 m/sec downstream of the deluge valve and 3 m/sec upstream.
 Design of the system should be such that the water spray fully covers the equipment in within
30secs upon activation.