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OISD - GDN - 180

JULY, 1999


Prepared by:


2nd Floor, “Kailash”,
26, Kasturba Gandhi Marg,
NEW DELHI -110 001.


OISD (Oil Industry Safety Directorate) publications

are prepared for use in the Oil and Gas Industry under
Ministry of Petroleum & natural Gas. These are the property
of Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas and shall not be
reproduced or copied and loaned or exhibited to others
without written consent from OISD.

Though every effort has been made to assure the

accuracy and reliability of the data contained in these
documents. OISD hereby expressly disclaims any liability or
responsibility for loss or damage resulting from their use.

These documents are intended to supplement rather

than replace the prevailing statutory requirements.



The Oil Industry in India is nearly 100 years old. Due to

various collaboration agreements a variety of international codes,
standards and practices are in vogue. Standardisation in design
philosophies, operating and maintenance practices at a national
level was hardly in existence. This lack of uniformity coupled with
feedback from some serious accidents that occurred in the recent
past in India and abroad, emphasised the need for the industry to
review the existing state of art in designing, operating and
maintaining oil and gas installations.

With this in view, the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural

Gas in 1986 constituted a Safety Council assisted by the Oil
Industry Safety Directorate (OISD) staffed from within the industry
in formulating and implementing a series of self-regulatory
measures aimed at removing obsolescence, standardising and
upgrading the existing standards to ensure safer operations.
Accordingly OISD constituted a number of functional committees
comprising of experts nominated from the industry to draw up
standards and guidelines on various subjects.

The present document on “Lightning Protection” was

prepared by the Functional Committee on “Lightning Protection”.
This document is based on the accumulated knowledge and
experience of industry members and the various national and
international codes and practices.

It is hoped that provisions of this document if implemented

objectively, may go a long way to improve the safety to reduce
accidents in Oil and Gas Industry. Users are cautioned that no
document can be substitute for the judgment of responsible and
experienced engineer.

Suggestions are invited from the users after it is put into

practice to improve the document further. Suggestions for
amendments, if any, to this standard should be addressed to:

The Co-ordinator
Committee on “Lightning Protection”
Oil Industry Safety Directorate
2nd Floor, “Kailash”,
26, Kasturba Gandhi Marg,
NEW DELHI - 110 001.

This document in no way supersedes the statutory

regulations of Chief Controller of Explosives (CCE), Factory
Inspectorate or any other statutory body, which must be followed
as applicable.



Sl.No. Name Organisation Position in
the Committee

01. V.P. Sharma Engineers India Limited Leader

02. A.K. Roy Indian Oil Corporation Ltd., Member

(Refineries Division)

03. S.C. Tyagi Oil & Natural Gas Corporation Ltd., Member

04. H. Prusty Gas Authority of India Ltd., Member

05. P.Kamalasekharan Indian Oil Corporation Ltd., Member

(Marketing Division)

06. R. Raghupathy Engineers India Limited Member

07. P.N. Deka Bongaigaon Refinery &

Petrochemicals Limited Member

08. J.K. Jha Oil Industry Safety Directorate Member


In addition to the above, various other experts in the industry contributed in the preparation,
review, and finalisation of this document.





2.0 SCOPE 1









11.0 APPENDIX 22



1.0 INTRODUCTION called Down Conductors

Lightning is a natural iv) Earth Terminations

phenomenon considered as “Atmospheric
Electricity” which develops as a result of Earthing conductors embedded in
natural build-up of electrical charge the soil and designed for the Safe
separation in the storm clouds. Lightning discharge of lightning currents into the soil
strikes cause enormous loss of life and are called Earth Terminations
property all over the world. Hydrocarbon
Industry suffers crippling damage, v) Flame Protection
disruption and loss because of this.
Self closing gauge hatches,
Protection to the plant structures, vapour seals, pressure vacuum breather
storage tanks and columns in the valves, flame arrestors or other
hydrocarbon industry against strokes of reasonably effective means to minimise
lightning has been a subject of concern the possibility of flame entering the
and methods of providing lightning vapour space of a tank.
protection has been a subject of debate.

2.0 SCOPE vi) Grounded Terminal:

The portion of a lightning

This document explains the
protection system such as ground rod,
lightning discharge phenomena, various
ground plate, or ground conductor that is
lightning concepts and control of fugitive
installed for the purpose of providing
emissions and deals with lightning
electrical contact with the earth.
protection for plant building and structures
and Storage associated with an Oil/Gas
vii) Grounded:
nstallation as per prevalent national and
international standards on the subject and
A structure is supposed to be
analyses their stipulations and provides
adequately grounded if it is connected to
minimum requirements to be followed in
earth or to some conducting body that is
the Oil Industry. This standard, however,
connected to earth.
does not include guidelines for protection
of electric equipment within or on
viii) Hazardous Area
structures against lightning.
In accordance with the Petroleum
3.0 DEFINITIONS Rules, an area shall be deemed to be a
hazardous area, where:
For the purpose of this standard,
the following definitions shall apply. a) Petroleum having flash point below
65o C or any flammable gas or vapour
I) Air Terminal in a concentration capable of ignition is
likely to be present.
An air terminal is that component
of a lightning protection system that is b) Petroleum or any flammable liquid
intended to intercept lightning flashes. having flash point above 65 o C is likely
to be refined, blended, handled or
ii) Bonding stored at or above its flash point .
An electrical connection between For details, refer OISD Standard 113 on
an electrically conductive object and a Electrical Area Classification.
component of a lightning protection
system that is intended to significantly ix) Shall
reduce potential differences created by
lightning current. “Shall” indicates a mandatory
iii) Down Conductors
x) Should
The conductors which connects
air terminals to earth terminations are

“Should” indicates a requirement to a negative charge build-up at the base
which is recommendatory in nature. of the cloud.

xi) Side Flash: The negative charge at the cloud-

base gives rise to a positive build-up of
An electric spark, caused by charge on the earth. The build-up
differences of potential, occurring between continues till the potential difference
conductive metal bodies or between such between the earth and the cloud base
metal bodies and a component of the becomes so large that it causes a
lightning protection system or ground. breakdown of the resistance of air
medium, thereby creating a lightning
xii) Spark Gap: discharge.

As used in this code, the term The majority of lightning strokes

spark gap means any short air space are known to occur with the generation of
between two conductors electrically a negative leader from the cloud to the
insulated from or remotely electrically ground. The leader travels earthwards in
connected to each other. discreet steps of approximately 30 to 60
meters each. When this stepped leader is
xiii) Striking Distance: near the ground, its negative charge
induces greater amounts of positive
The distance over which the final charges on the earth, especially on
breakdown of the initial stroke occurs. objects projecting above the earth’s
surface. These charges attract each other
xiv) Surge Arrestor: and a cloud bound upward streamer is
launched from the ground. The two meet
A protective device for limiting and form a completely conducting path
surge voltages by discharging or and very high current flows along this path
bypassing surge current. It also prevents to equalize the potential difference. This
continued flow of follow current while is termed as the return stroke. Discharge
remaining capable of repeating these phenomenon is pictorially depicted in
functions. Fig.1.

xv) Vapour Openings: Some typical values of the

stepped leader and return stroke are as
Openings through a tank shell or follows:-
roof above the surface of the stored
hydrocarbon. Such openings may be a) Stepped Leader
provided for tank breathing, tank gauging,
fire fighting, or other operating purpose. - Average Current 0.1 to 1 KA

xvi) Zone of Protection: - Speed of Propagation 2 X 105m/Sec.

Zone of Protection is the space -Length of Steps 30 to 60m

around a lightning conductor in which the apprx.
probability of lightning stroke is small.
- Potential difference > 107 to 109
4.0 LIGHTNING PHENOMENON between leader & volts
Lightning is a natural
phenomenon which is said to be formed
as a result of a natural build up of b) Return Stroke
electrical charge separation in thunder
clouds. In thunder clouds, normally, ice- - Peak current of first
crystals become positively charged while return Stroke 30 KA
water droplets become negatively
charged. In most of the cases, these - Speed of Propagation 1/3 Speed
particles are so distributed as to give rise of Light



Wave Shape Rise time 2 to 10 micro Sec As the current is discharged
Total discharge time to 50% 10-250 through the resistance of the earth
micro sec. electrode of the lightning protection
system, it produces a resistive voltage
- Channel Temperature 30,000o K drop which may momentarily raise the
potential of the protective system to high
(For more details on Lightning value relative to the true earth. It may
Phenomenon , reference may be made to also produce around the earth electrode a
the book on “Lightning” by R.H. Golde) high potential gradient dangerous to
persons and animals.
The frequency of lightning differs
from region to region. Statistical data for 4.3.2 Side Flashing
the number of thunderstorms in a given
place is compiled and the yearly average The point of strike on the
is termed as Ceraunic number. The protective system may be raised to a high
higher this number, the larger is potential with respect to adjacent metal.
probability of a lightning stroke. There is, therefore a risk of flash over
from the protective system to any other
It is estimated that about 2,000 metal on or in the structure.
storms exist at any one time in the world,
bombarding the earth each year with over 4.3.3 Thermal
3 billion lightning strokes.
Although the lightning discharge
Lightning strokes could result in current is high, its duration is short, its
direct strikes or indirect strikes. thermal effect on the protective system is
usually negligible. In general the cross
4.1 Direct Strikes section area of lightning conductors is
chosen primarily to satisfy the requirement
Direct-stroke of lightning can of mechanical strength.
cause severe damage to objects that
come in its path. The damage is largely 4.3.4 Mechanical
caused by heat, mechanical forces and
ignition of flammable materials. Typically Where a high current is
a direct-stroke on a tree generates so discharged along parallel conductor at
much heat and mechanical force that it close proximity or along a single
tears the limbs off the tree and scatters conductor with sharp bends, considerable
the bark over a wide area. Humans can mechanical forces are produced.
suffer heart failure, brain damage,
suspension of breathing or paralysis, 5.0 LIGHTNING PROTECTION
burns etc., CONCEPTS

4.2 Indirect Strikes Based on the understanding of the

lightning discharge phenomenon,
In addition to the direct-stroke, the following important points need to be
abrupt change in the electrical field, noted.
caused by a lightning stroke, can cause
the lightning conductors to have potentials a) The down leader is self triggering and
of mega volts with respect to the true erratic in its downward movement. Its
earth, instantaneously. Any nearby metal initiation, progress and direction is
work which is earthed offers a low currently beyond the power of man to
impedance path to the stroke and the control.
discharge can flash over to this nearby
metal work, when the magnitude of the b) The final earth strike point is
potential is adequate to breakdown the determined by the nature and location
gap. of ground points which compete to
create upward intercepting leaders.
STROKE c) The first upward leader to intercept the
downward leader completes the path
4.3.1 Electrical for the main lightning discharge and

usually causes all other down leader
branches to collapse. Double The down conductor coveys the
discharges can occur when two down lightning energy to the earth in a safe
leaders approach earth with same time and well defined path thereby
and distance parameters. It is not preventing damage to the protected
necessary that all up leaders shall structure and avoiding side flashing.
intercept a down leader.
Earth Connection.
The connection to the earth mass
Lightning protection concepts are shall have a low impedance to
based on either: prevent the rise of potential of
surrounding earth mass and maximize
Delaying the release of upward the rate of fall of potential away from
streamer for the area to be protected the connection point. The earth mass
with the earth conductors embedded
(or) in the soil provides safe discharge of
lightning current into the soil.
Release of upward streamer from a
pre-defined point of the protected The remedial approach to lightning
structure to divert upon itself the stroke protection has four options:
channel and neutralize all the secondary
effects. - Conventional air terminal
(Franklin Rod)
The first approach is the preventive - Faraday Cage
approach while the second is the remedial - Ionizing air terminal
or control approach. - Laser Beam

5.2 Remedial Approach The Franklin rod is a sharp

pointed rod designed to intercept the
a) The remedial approach consists of leader of lightning stroke and to transfer
providing safety against lightning the electric charge to the earth.
strokes by employing means to
capture the lightning stroke leader. The Faraday cage consists of
Protection means in remedial metallic material completely surrounding
approach are designed: the protected structure and resulting in its
electrostatic shielding. For lightning
- To convey the lightning energy to protection purpose, conductors are spaced
earth via a defined route. in a criss-crossed fashion across the roof
structure and sides.
- To ensure low impedance
connection to the earth mass. The early streamer emission
system employs either a terminal of
- To eliminate the secondary effects. specific shape (Sphere as in the case of
Dynasphere) or enhanced ionizing
b) The basic components of a lightning radioactive air terminal for the generation
protection system in the remedial of ions. Air terminal is connected to a
approach are: special down conductor attached to an
earthing system.
Air Terminal:-
The use of Lasers was proposed
The air terminal captures the stepped in 1974 to discharge thunder storms. The
leader of a lightning stroke by laser beam would produce multi-photon
launching an upward interception ionization. The laser beam could thus
streamer. intercept a leader as it developed towards
the earth, and act as a conductor from
Down Conductor:- the cloud to the ground and then be
terminated to a down conductor and the
The conductor which connect air earth mass.
termination to earth termination is
called down conductor. The disadvantages of the Faraday

cage are related to its high cost and the 6.0 LIGHTNING PROTECTION
fact that it has no impact on the SYSTEM
electromagnetic pulse related to a close
lightning stroke. The major drawbacks to 6.1 Need For Protection
the laser beam are high cost, state of
development and the problems of 6.1.1 The necessity of providing lightning
diverting stroke energy to earth without protection for structures located in
damage to the laser itself. non-hazardous areas shall be
assessed by calculating overall risk
5.3 Preventive Approach factor. However, for hazardous
areas lightning protection is
The preventive approach employs essential considering the serious
method to prevent build-up of charge in consequences of fire/damage due to
the area to be protected. The system lightning strokes and shall be
shall be able to reduce the potential provided irrespective of the value of
between the protected area and the risk factor.
charged clouds, so that the potential
difference is not high enough to enable 6.1.2 Indian Standard IS:2309
the generation of a leader to the earth recommends following factors as a
within the protected area. basis of calculating the overall risk
factor for assessing the requirement
When a thunder cloud passes of lightning protection.
overhead and the field strength is greater
than 2 KV/M2, point discharge currents are a. Type of Construction.
generated. Any natural occurring sharp b. Contents of the building and
point, such as trees, blades of grass on consequential effects due to
flat planes or pointed rocks on mountain lightning stroke.
tops will generate corona discharge. c. Degree of isolation.
Point discharge currents act to limit the d. Type of terrain where the structure is
electric strength. Multipoint discharge located.
system consist of three elements as e. Height of the Structure.
shown in Fig. 2 f. Lightning prevalence.
g. Usage of the building.
a) the dissipator or ionizer
b) the ground current collector Depending upon the
c) the conductors connecting the characteristic features of above factors,
dissipator and the ground current overall risk factor shall be calculated as
collect. per procedure given in IS-2309.

The configuration depends on the If the value of risk factor is less

size and height of the structure to the than 10--5 (One in Hundred Thousand),
protected, soil conditions, prevailing wind then in the absence of any other
condition, storm patterns, altitude and overriding consideration, protection may
keraunic number. The basic configuration not be provided.
consists of a conductor with two sharp
pointed rods connected at right angles to If the risk factor is greater
each other and the right angle rods or than 10--5 (One in Hundred Thousand),
spaced along the conductor. The then sound reasons shall be necessary to
configuration looks like barbed wire. This support the decision of not providing the
conductor with multiple sets of rods lightning protection.
spaced periodically along the length of
conductor is referred to as the dissipating 6.2 Zone Of Protection
medium. Using this dissipating medium
several array configurations can be Lightning protection system shall
formed. be designed to protect the structures
It may be noted that as on date
multi-point discharge system is not
included as an option in any international
standards/practice on lightning protection.


system. The path between air termination and earth shall be such that the lightning

current is discharged to earth without passing through non-conducting parts of the building
and also without causing fire, flashover and dangerous potential difference in and around the

Rolling sphere concept is followed to determine the zone of protection of lightning


In this concept, the zone of protection includes the space not intruded by a rolling
sphere having radius equal to the stroking distance when tangent to earth and resting against
a lightning protection air termination, all space between the two points of contact and under
the sphere are in the zone of protection. A zone of protection is also formed when such a
sphere is resting on two or more air terminals and includes the space under the sphere
between those terminals. Fig.3 provides a graphic representation of rolling sphere concept

of zone of protection.

Striking distance of 30 Meters may be considered for the protection of structures

containing flammable materials and striking distance of 60 meters may be considered for
other structures.

Zone of protection for a single mast using 30 meters striking distance is shown in Fig.4
and that for Overhead Ground Wire( Suspended Air Terminals) is shown in Fig 5.

6.3 Lightning Protection of Structures containing flammable materials.

Protection Concept of storage tanks and vessels have been dealt in detail in attached
Appendix-I for guidance in designing lightning protection system.


For any fire to take place, three basic conditions i.e presence of oxygen, flammable
material and source of ignition must simultaneously exist. The lightning stroke i.e. the return
stroke may involve temperatures as high as 30,000 o K in the discharge channel. Therefore, if
a direct strike of lightning or sparking due to a side flash takes place on a vent of a cone roof
tank while a flammable mixture is present, fire is bound to take place. it is therefore,
essential that measures to control of fugitive emission from storage tanks are given special

The design, operating and maintenance practices for a hydrocarbon installation

should be given due attention to the need of minimising the possibility of presence of
flammable atmospheres. Control of fugitive emissions from vents, proper design and
maintenance of seals of floating roof tanks etc. are essential for avoiding damage to
petroleum installations due to lightning strokes.

Control of fugitive emissions is important from the view point of prevention of fire, in
addition to the benefits of environmental protection and product loss.



Figure 4





8.0 PLANT BUILDING AND All the vertical air terminations
STRUCTURES provided on the same structure shall be
The need for the protection of
plant buildings such as substation, control Where a structure has two
room office buildings, work shop, elevations; out of which lower is projecting
warehouse etc., and cooling towers shall outside and the higher elevation does not
be assessed taking into consideration the protect the lower elevation, separate
exposure risk and the following factors: network shall be provided for lower
elevation. Both networks shall be
a) Use to which structure is put. interconnected by connecting the higher
b) Nature of its construction. elevation down conductor to the lower
c) Value of its contents or network.
consequential effects.
d) The location of the structure All the metal piping, railing etc.,
and on the roof shall be bonded to the
e) The height and the effective protective network.
collection area of the structure. Down Conductors
The overall risk factor shall be
established as per the guidelines of The recommended spacing of
IS:2309 to decide the need for protection. down conductors is every 20 M of
Perimeter for structures upto 20 M in
Structures of exceptional height and every 10 M of perimeter for
vulnerability by reason of explosive or structured above 20 M height.
highly flammable contents need special
consideration and every possible EARTH TERMINATION
protection need to be provided even
against the rare occurrence of a lightning Each down conductor shall be
discharge. provided with an earth electrode and all
earth electrodes shall be interconnected
8.1 General Design Requirements. through underground strip.

Lightning protection earthing

A lightning protection system system may be bonded to electrical
(Conventional Air Terminal System) safety earthing system, inside ground.
consists of the following three basic
components: The use of rod/pipe/strip
electrodes is permissible. Their choice
a) Air terminal will depend upon site conditions, soil
b) Down conductor resistivity and economic considerations.
c) Earth connection
The material of earth electrodes
8.1.1 Air Termination System shall be galvanised iron.
The air terminal shall be capable The whole of lightning protective
of drawing the lightning discharge to it in system including any earth ring shall have
preference to vulnerable parts of the a combined resistance to earth not
protected structure. The air terminations exceeding 10 ohm without taking account
can be of vertical or horizontal type. of any bonding.
Conductors shall be 8.1.2 Size and Material of Conductors
interconnected to form a closed loop.
The material of air termination
Vertical air terminations shall be network, down conductor and earth
used for very high structures with small termination shall be galvanised iron.
base areas e.g. non-conducting chimneys
etc. Minimum 2 nos. vertical terminations Lightning currents have very short
shall be provided for chimneys. duration, therefore thermal factors are of
little consequence in deciding the cross-
Vertical air terminations shall section of the conductor. The minimum
project at least 300 mm above the size of the various components of
protected structure. lightning protection system shall be as


- 25mm X  Down conductors - Same as

3mm GI horizontal air
Strip (or) termination.
40mm X
5mm GI  Earth terminations - 65 mm dia.,

of IS-2309.

Ventilators and other roof

projections of non-metallic construction
shall be protected by means of air
terminal system and connected to the
steel frame of structure.

major metal forming part of the structure,

including continuous metal reinforcement
and services, should be bonded together
and connected to the lightning protective
system. Such connections should be
made in atleast two places and should,
wherever possible, be equally spaced
around the perimeter of the structure at
intervals not exceeding 15 m. For further
details refer IS-2309.

Metal inside the structure should

be bonded to the lightning protective

Vents and exhaust stacks from

process plants emitting flammable
vapours or dusts should be fitted with
flame traps.

A network of horizontal conductors 8.4 Protection of Stacks.

(air termination system) should be fixed to
the roof of structure as per the guidelines Non-conducting chimneys whose

overall width or diameter at top is upto
1.5m shall be provided with one down f) Sheet steel of thickness less than 4.8
conductor, and chimneys with overall mm shall not be used as a material
width or diameter at top more than 1.5m of construction for the tanks and
shall be provided with 2 no. down vessels.
conductors as shown in Fig.8.
A properly designed / constructed
Metal stacks shall be properly gas tight storage tanks considered to be
earthed at the bottom. No air self-protected against lightning, provided
terminal/down conductors are required if it is properly earthed and bonded. Such a
the thickness of sheet steel is more than structure may not require any additional
4.8 mm. means of lightning protection.

9.0 PROTECTION OF STORAGE 9.2 Normally in hydrocarbon industry two

TANKS types of above ground storage tanks
are in use for storage of flammable
9.1 Following fundamental principles liquids at atmospheric pressure:
of lightning protection of the structures
and their contents shall be adhered to:- 1) Fixed roof type tanks

a) Flammable liquids shall be stored 2) Floating roof type tanks

in essentially gastight structures. Protection against lightning for
these two types of storage tanks are
b) Openings where flammable illustrated below:
concentrations of vapour or gas can
escape to the atmosphere shall be Fixed roof type tanks:
closed or otherwise protected against
the entrance of flame. The contents of metallic tanks
with steel roofs of riveted, bolted or
c) Structures and all accessories e.g. welded construction with or without
dip-gauge hatches, vent valves shall supporting members, used for the storage
be maintained in good and sound of flammable liquids at atmospheric
operating conditions. pressure are considered to be inherently
self-protecting against lightning if the
d) Flammable air-vapour mixtures shall following requirements are met:
be prevented to the greatest possible
extent from accumulating outside a) All joints between metallic plates shall
such structures. be fully riveted, bolted or welded.
e) Potential spark-gaps between b) All pipes entering or connected with the
metallic conductors shall be avoided tank shall be metallically connected
at points where flammable vapours and properly bonded with the tank at
may escape or accumulate. the point of entrance.

Figure 8 : Lightning protection of RCC Chimneys

NOTE: No of earth connections shall be decided based on tank diameter considering that the
spacing between any two earth connections shall not exceed thirty meters along the tank


c) All vapour or gas openings shall be closed Shunt of flexible Type 302, 28 gauge (0.4
or provided with flame protection devices mm X 51 mm) wide stainless steel straps
when the stored stock may produce a or the equivalent current carrying
flammable air-vapour mixture under capacity and corrosion resistance are
storage conditions. used. (Ref. Fig.10)

d) The roof shall have a minimum thickness b) Tanks without a vapour space at the seal
of 4.8mm. or with non-conductive seals do not
generally require shunts at the seal.
e) The roof shall be welded, fully bolted or However, if shunts are not provided a
riveted to the tank shell. tight seal must be maintained to prevent
accumulation of vapours. Where metallic
Tanks shall be grounded to conduct weather shields cover the seals they shall
away the current of direct strokes and to maintain contact with the shell.
avoid the buildup and potential that may
cause sparks to ground. A metal tank shall c) Where a floating roof tank is equipped
be grounded by one of the following with both primary and secondary seals in
methods: compliance with environmental
regulations, shunts shall be installed so
a) A tank is connected without insulated that they directly contact the tank shell
joints to a grounded metallic piping above the secondary seal as in case of
system. primary seals explained in “a” above.

b) A vertical cylindrical tank rests on earth d) All conductive parts of internal floating
or concrete and is at least 6m in covers or the floating portions of covered
diameter or rests on bituminous floating roof tanks, ladders should be
pavements and is at least 15 M in electrically interconnected and bonded to
diameter. the tank roof/shell.

c) By bonding the tank to ground through a 10.0 REFERENCES :

minimum of two ground terminals as
shown in Fig.9 at maximum 30 M The following codes, standards and
intervals along the perimeter of tank. publications have either been referred to or
This also applies to tanks with an used in the preparation of this document and
insulting membrane beneath the tank. the same shall be read in conjunction with
this document:
d) Storage tanks having cathodic protection
1) OISD Standards/ Recommended
system require special consideration
Practices such as:
while designing the grounding system.

Floating Roof Tanks: a) OISD- 149; Design Aspects for Safety

in Electrical System.
In addition to the concepts followed in
b) OISD- 137 Inspection of Electrical
case of fixed roof type tanks, following
measures are essential in case of floating
roof type tanks used for storage of flammable 2) BIS (Bureau of Indian Standards)
liquids: Publication.
a) Metallic straps (Shunts) at intervals of not
a) IS-2309: Protection of Buildings & allied
over 3 meter length on the circumference
structures against lightning.
of the roof between the floating roof and
3 International Code of Practice / guidelines
the metallic shoe that slides on the inside
of the shell will permit the charge to drain
a) API Recommended Practice
off without igniting vapour under the seal.
2003: Protection against ignition Protection of Structures against
arising out of Static, Lightning and Lightning.
Stray Currents -
d) Electrical Safety Code - Institute of
b) NFPA 780: Standard for the Petroleum, U.K.
installation of Lightning Protection
Systems. 4. Lightning, Vol.1 & 2 by R.H. Golde.

c) BS 6651 Code of Practice for



The need for the Protection against Lightning for Storage Tanks, Spheres, Bullets
containing flammable materials is self evident.

A properly bonded and earthed metallic storage tank of adequate shell/roof thickness is self
protected against lightning, provided these are tightly sealed to prevent the escape of liquid,
vapour, or gas.

It is to be noted that, pressure vessels such as spheres and bullets are gas tight by the
design of its construction. Hence, properly earthed spheres and bullets are self protected and do
not need additional measures against lightning protection.

Where the probability of flammable atmosphere around the rim of a floating roof tank and
around the vent of a fixed roof tank is relatively high as compared to other locations around the
tankages, augmentation of lightning protection system may be considered. It may however be
borne in mind that the only effective defence against ignition by a direct strike is a tight seal.

Lightning conductor as part of lightning protection system is incapable of discharging a

thunder cloud without a lightning flash. It is thus obvious that in case of a lightning strike, the
source of ignition is present due to temperatures of around 30,000 o K in the discharge channel of a
return stroke or the secondary arc in case of a indirect strike

The underlying principle for augmenting lightning protection to hydrocarbon storage tanks,
is therefore based on shifting the point of strike of lightning stroke to a safe area above the vapour
space (or above the classified zones for hazardous atmosphere) so that ignition of vapours
probably present above the roof does not take place.

A1.1 Accordingly the following options are available for the augmentation of the lightning
protection system.

I) Use of lightning Air Terminals on the tank shell.

ii) Use of lightning protection masts around the storage tanks.

iii) Use of overhead shield wire.

While designing the above options following important aspects need to be kept in mind:

a) Striking distance of 30 m is to be considered for applying the rolling sphere concept of

protected zone.

b) Increasing the height of lightning masts above the striking distance (30 m) will not increase the
zone of protection. Zones of protection for varying mast height and a striking distance of 30 m
are shown in Fig.A1..

c) To prevent side flashes, the minimum distance between a mast or overhead ground wire and
the structure to be protected shall be not less than the bonding distance or sideflash distance.

Sideflash distance from a mast can be calculated by the formula:

D = h

Where h = height of structure.

Figure A1
Sideflash distance from a catenary may be calculated as:

D = I_

Where I = Length of lightning protection cable between its grounded point and the point under

n = Between 1 to 2.25 depending upon the number of down conductors and their spacing.

A1.2 Air Terminals installed on Tank Shell:

Protection zone provided by air terminals installed on the tank shall depend upon the tank
dia, height of air terminal and spacing of air terminals around the tank perimeter. A conventional 6
m high air terminal, spaced about 20 m around the periphery protects an area upto 15 to 18 m from
the tank shell. This implies that lightning protection using air terminals installed on the tank walls
can completely protect a storage tank upto 30 M dia whereas the center portion of the roof remains
unprotected for tank diameters more than 30m as shown in Fig.A2

The use of air terminals can be applied to floating roof tanks for reducing the probability of
rim fires due to lightning strikes since the space around the rim has relatively higher possibility of
flammable atmosphere being present due to leakage from improper sealing.

Where the tanks walls are of thickness more than 4.8 mm, separate down conductors, are
not required and tank wall itself can be used as down conductor with the proper connection of air
terminals to the tank shell. Typical details are given in Fig.A3.

Number of 6 m high air terminals (spaced about 20 m around the perimeter) required for
various tank diameters are tabulated below:



Upto 12M 3
13 - 21M 4
22 - 32M 5
33 - 38M 6
39 - 45M 7
46 - 51M 8
52 - 57M 9
58 - 63M 10
64 - 71M 11
72 - 79M 12

A1.3 Lightning Masts around Storage Tanks

For a lightning mast to prevent fires due to lightning, following basic factors need to be
borne in mind:

a) Lightning mast located more than 30m away from the tank irrespective of the height of the mast
does not provide any improvement to the self protected storage tank.

b) Lightning mast should be located close to the tank and the minimum distance is dictated by the
side flash distance and the practical considerations for mast installation.

In view of above, lightning mast is required to be located at around 5 to 6 m from the tank

Protection zone of a system of lightning masts with mast height equal to 15 m more than



the tank height and spacing of about 24 m around the tank is almost same as that provided with the
use of lightning conductors installed on the tank shell, the number of lightning masts and the
lightening conductors on shell being the same. Protection zone for a 50 m dia tank using lightning
masts is illustrated in Fig.A4.

It is thus obvious that both a system of lightning masts around the tank or lightning
conductors provided on the tank wall provide similar protection to the tank for preventing fires due
to lightning. Lightning masts are much more expensive as compared to the air terminals on the
shell while the lightning masts would be easier to install as a retrofit in an operating plant in
comparison to the air terminals, since the latter would require welding work on the tank wall.

Lightning mast can be of tubular design or a lattice structure of angle irons. Earthing
system of the lightning mast shall have to be bonded to the earthing system of the associated
storage tank.

A1.4 Use of Overhead Shield Wire

A system of overhead earth wires can be designed to provide complete protection to a

storage tank within the realm of rolling sphere concept based on a striking distance of 30 m. A
single earth wire with a minimum clearance of about 8 m above the highest point of the tank can
protect a tank of about 6 to 8 m diameter. For tank diameters between 8 to 30 m two parallel earth
wires shall be required while for tank diameters between 30 to 80 m three parallel overhead earth
wires shall be needed as a minimum.

Protection zones using a system overhead earth wires are shown in Fig.A5.

Supporting structures for the overhead earth wires can be either of tubular design or a
lattice structure. Height of the structure shall be decided based on the height of the topmost point
on the tank roof and the side flash distance. The supporting structure shall also have to be located
sufficiently away from the tank so as to prevent any side flash. The earth-wire shall be bonded to
the steel supporting structure which can serve as a down conductor. Earthing system of the
supporting structure shall be bonded with the tank earthing system.


With regard to protection for structures containing flammbale vapours, gases or liquids that can
give off flammable vapours, the following principles should be followed:

a) Liquids that can give off flammable vapours shall be stored in essentially gastight structures.

b) Openings where flammable concentrations of vapour or gas can escape to the atmosphere
shall be closed or otherwise protected against the entrance of flame.

c) Structures and all appurtenances (e.g. dip-gauge hatches, vent valves) shall be maintained in
good operating conditions.

d) Flammable air-vapour mixtures shall be prevented to the greatest possible extent from
accumulating outside such structures.

e) Potential spark-gaps between metallic conductors shall be avoided at points where flammable
vapours may escape or accumulate.