Managing emissions is a major challenge for many companies. In Europe alone, a typical refinery can lose between 600 and 10,000 tonnes of fugitive emissions every year; and the majority of those losses are estimated to be caused by plant equipment, such as process to instrument valves and small bore fluid system technologies.
Valve leakage is believed to account for around 50 per cent of emissions within the chemical and petrochemical industries. That can place a major financial burden on companies - not just due to potential plant inefficiency, but also the potential costs of repairing leaks, wasting energy and environmental fines.
Reducing emissions can help businesses to protect the environment, reduce waste and save valuable time and money in the process. Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) and end users involved in commissioning may find it helpful to follow a series of checks - alongside any existing processes - to determine prospective supplier capability.
Adherence to international standard ISO 15848.
International standard ISO 15848 sets a requirement for zero emissions for processes involving hazardous fluids and volatile air pollutants. The standard is split into two parts:
- Part one (ISO 15848-1) covers the classification system and qualification procedures for type testing of valves, including grades of temperature, firmness and susceptibility to leakage
- Part two (ISO 15848-2) covers production acceptance testing of valves that have been approved to ISO 15848-1. This involves a simpler helium sniffer test, carried out at room temperature with five mechanical actuations.
ISO 15848 defines three leakage classifications that specify maximum leakage rates, with Class A being the most stringent.
Parker products have been compliant with ISO 15848 for some years now.
Pic.1. Lloyd’s Register verification for the Pro-Bloc® 15mm process to instrument valves dates back as far as July 2007.
Verifications and third-party approvals.
Typical industry procurement practices require certificates of approval or third-party verifications as a condition of supply. Reputable valve manufacturers, including Parker, can provide signed and witnessed certificates - along with verification from industry-leading organisations and technical advisors such as Lloyds, TUV and DNV.
If verifications are provided by an unknown third party, engineers and procurement specialists may want to satisfy themselves with the quality and level of certification offered - ensuring that any named verifiers are trusted experts in their field. And it’s important that suppliers can provide access to any stated certification, as proof of capability and to ensure practices are up-to-date.
Experience supporting major companies and being on approved vendor lists can also be a useful indicator of supply quality. Manufacturers of process to instrument valves who are working with oil majors typically have to pass stringent pre-qualification checks and approval systems. For example, Shell’s robust enterprise framework agreement requires suppliers to:
- Meet specific codes aligned to ISO 15848, namely SPE 77/300
- Go through a series of tests (such as testing packing after a specified number of actuations)
- Complete witness-tested approvals
- Achieve leading third-party verification.
Passing these tests is a strong indicator of supplier credentials. Parker is proud to have recently secured a five-year extension to its framework agreement with Shell following a recent factory audit and witness-tested Type Approval Test. The extension was secured due to Shell being satisfied with Parker products and service over the previous five years.
Pic.2. Parker’s MESC compliant Double Block and Bleed valve.
Industry expertise and training.
In offshore applications, the implications of insufficient expertise or training can carry significant risk. It’s therefore imperative that any suppliers demonstrate their understanding of the business environment and relevant operations.
Asking suppliers for details of their testing practices and procedures, familiarity with legislation and adherence to industry standards will help to build a clear picture of suppliers’ relative experience and credentials.
Suggested questions for potential suppliers.
EPC contract engineers and procurers commissioning process to instrument valves may find it helpful to consider the following areas when considering potential suppliers:
- Does the supplier have ISO 15848 (part 1 and part 2) signed-off by a leading third-party verifier such as Lloyds, DNV or TUV?
- If an unknown verifier has issued approval, has their expertise been confirmed?
- What product type(s) do the stated approvals cover? For example: fugitive emissions, ball and needle designs used on double block and bleed and so on.
- What other certificates, approvals or verifications can the supplier offer - for example, Type Approval Test certification – and can they supply up-to-date evidence to prove this?
- Can the company offer any designs exceeding industry standards?
Article contributed by Jim Breeze - flange products, product manager at Parker Hannifin, Instrumentation Products Division Europe.