High Integrity Pressure Protection Systems (HIPPS) act as a barrier between high-pressure upstream and low-pressure downstream sections of a plant. They offer a sophisticated valve-based means to protect equipment from over-pressurisation.
Misconceptions surrounding the complexity and cost of HIPPS can be a barrier to uptake. However, in the right circumstances, HIPPS can bring significant economic, environmental and safety advantages.
Severn Glocon fully understands the requirements, drivers and demands of our customers. This enables us to develop HIPPS solutions which deliver benefits across each of these three areas.
Safety and environmental benefits
Traditionally, over-pressurisation in a hydrocarbon processing plant is dealt with through simple relief or flare systems. While this can avert immediate danger, the released medium can be harmful to humans and the environment. What’s more, should a relief valve fail, the impact can be catastrophic, resulting in loss of life.
Using HIPPS instead of a pressure relief system significantly enhances a plant’s safety and environmental credentials. The source of high pressure is shut off before over-pressurisation occurs, avoiding the need for venting. HIPPS cut off the inflow of excess media and contain it in the system through rapid deployment of two in-series safety shut off valves/actuators also known as ‘final elements’. Once activated, these final elements automatically isolate the high pressure source.
Installations that have to comply with strict environmental regulations have been the forerunners in development and uptake of HIPPS. It can be the only feasible option in scenarios where environmental restrictions limit emissions. The reliability of HIPPS in preventing downstream overpressure also makes it a superior option from a safety perspective.
Potential economic advantages associated with HIPPS are often overlooked. As an emergency response solution, it is far less costly than an unplanned shutdown and all the repercussions that entails. What’s more, using HIPPS in a pipeline unlocks the potential for lower design pressures downstream of the system. This facilitates a reduction in required wall thickness for assets, allowing use of de-rated pipework which brings size, weight and cost advantages, as well as positively impacting flowrates and throughput.
So, while environmental and safety requirements have been the core drivers of HIPPS, there are in fact three scenarios where the systems can offer an effective solution. If the surrounding environment needs to be protected, the economic viability of a development needs to be improved or the risk profile of a plant needs to be reduced, HIPPS should be brought to the table as a potential alternative to simple relief systems. HIPPS are equally effective in new projects or when adding to or upgrading existing installations.
Dedicated HIPPS integration
There’s no denying the complexity of HIPPS. Development and integration draws on the combined skills of electronic and software engineers as well as mechanical engineers. These experts need to work cohesively with functional safety management professionals to interrogate the design brief and define the technical requirements.
Choosing an independent HIPPS integrator, such as Severn Glocon, can be an ideal solution. We have the freedom to select the best technologies to meet specific needs of an individual plant application. The depth and breadth of our specialist HIPPS expertise can also underpin innovative approaches with a superior level of reliability.
As an independent integrator we have a robust functional safety management system and a competency management system. This ensures all professionals involved in HIPPS development are trained and certified to exceed the relevant industry standards. At Severn Glocon we have all of these professionals under one roof and do not have to rely on external contractors.
An additional benefit of this model is that all HIPPS integration requirements can be coordinated via a single point of contact. This eases communication throughout planning, development and delivery, and enhances efficiency by stripping out a layer of third party liaison and coordination.
Clearly, in an ideal world there would never be a need for safety systems to be activated. Plant designers and engineers should continually strive for inherent safety. HIPPS are the last line of defence and shouldn’t be used as an alternative to designing out potential over-pressurisation problems.
Nevertheless, technologies that reduce the risk of over-pressurisation are an essential feature of any hydrocarbon processing plant. Opting for best-in-class, expert-led protection of equipment that could be susceptible to over-pressurisation brings multiple benefits. A collaborative approach between the end user and a HIPPS integrator can result in enhanced safety and environmental credentials that go hand-in-hand with economic advantages.