Pyroban has pledged to provide free training* across the oil and gas supply chain on the differences between Rig-safe and Zone 2 diesel engines in offshore oil and gas applications. The move comes amid a reported rise in unprotected “Rig-safe” diesel engines operating in potentially explosive atmospheres offshore. Lewis Cleary explains.

Rig-safe has become a popular safety specification for diesel engines used offshore, but is often mistaken for being suitable for Zone 2 areas. We hear reports of a rise in its use which is a real concern for operators who may have unwittingly created a dangerous situation offshore.

On September 8, BP published a report that suggested that the ignition source causing the Deepwater disaster was the released gas entering the air intakes of the diesel generators causing overspeed, and engulfing the deck area where the exhaust outlets for the main generators were emitting hot exhaust gas.

We are offering free training on Rig-safe products on a first come first served basis. The training is online and run by a Pyroban specialist on an individual or company group basis. It takes less than an hour and is designed to help individuals in the oil and gas supply chain understand the dangers of diesel engines and why Rig-safe is hardly protecting any of the ignition risks found on a powerpack.

Sign up now to your free one hour online training*. Email with “FREE TRAINING” in the subject line. We will then provide three date/time options.

What is Rig-safe on a diesel engine?

Standard diesel engines feature many different ignition sources and, if placed in an explosive atmosphere, any of these source could cause an explosion. Rig-safe only deals with a couple of ignition risks, leaving a significant number of ignition sources exposed.

Typically, Rig-safe specifications only include a few simple components that are easy to procure and fit, and at relatively low cost. It is for safe areas.

  • Air intake shut-off valve (often referred to as a “Chalwyn” valve)
  • Exhaust spark arrester
  • Antistatic belts or fan blades
  • Battery isolator
  • Anti-splash tape used to protect fuel / oil lines

These items are usually fitted locally to a diesel engine which will then power some kind of well service equipment such as a compressor or wireline unit.

Rig-safe specifications leave a significant number of ignition sources exposed

Specifications may vary, but the critical fact is that Rig-safe is only an added level of safety as a low level of safety in a “safe area”. Other ignition sources such as hot surfaces are left wide open which is dangerous in T3 IIA applications where hydrocarbons could be present at any moment.

Therefore, Rig-safe protected units should not be used within a Zone 2 hazardous area offshore, legally or morally. It’s dangerous, and exposes the operating companies, its people and the environment to huge risk.

Rig-safe is often mistaken for Zone 2 in certain regions

In some regions, it gets more complicated. The use of terminology is often different, even with some notified bodies in some countries. For example, we have seen that “Zone 2” specifications described in some regions are actually rig-safe specifications!

This is because Inspectors are often not fully aware of the fundementals of protecting diesel engines in a Zone 2 hazardous atmosphere and why Rig-safe differs.

As a result, we have seen many of our competitors presenting to our customers certificates claiming local “Zone 2” compliance, but not referencing any standards or giving any details of how compliance was achieved. We believe this is dangerous.

We have seen that “Zone 2” specifications described in some regions are actually rig-safe specifications!

Why does that matter? Global oil companies, operators and well service companies will likely specify “Zone 2” for their hazardous areas, believing that means compliance to ATEX EN 1834-1:2000 .  When in actual fact it will be a local version of “Zone 2” which would be Rig-safe. So on first glance, the paperwork is all in order. Meanwhile the entire offshore rig is at serious risk.

Sign up for your free one hour of training

To learn more about the fundamentals of protecting diesel engines in a Zone 2 hazardous atmospheres and why Rig-safe differs, send me an email expressing your interest with “FREE TRAINING” in the subject. We will then provide three date/time options. The training* includes:

This free online training* is available to everyone in any timezone, it takes less than one hour and there is an opportunity to ask questions. But hurry, we have limited the number of free sessions to just ten on a first come first served basis.

Contact with the subject “FREE TRAINING”. We will then provide three date/time options.

* Limited to ten sessions on a first come first served basis until end of April 2024

Lewis Cleary - Pyroban Technical Sales, Oil and GasAbout Lewis Cleary (the author)

Lewis looks after the Technical Sales for Pyroban’s Ex Power Systems products working with customers throughout the oil and gas supply chain across the world. He has significant experience of Pyroban HazPaks and explosion protection Pyroban kits for all brands of engines.