In all offshore operations safety is the foremost thought in every mind, especially when handling hazardous materials.
Consequently, any innovation that can enhance safety is considered paramount at Conserve Oilfield Services, a market leader in the rental of an extensive range of offshore cargo carrying appliances. As a result of several industry safety work groups, the company has recently completed the development of an innovative reduced height safety chemical tank, removing many of the traditional risks associated with this type of equipment.
Pat McCahery, international managing director at Conserve, elaborates on the company’s key strengths: “We are a market leader in the rental of offshore cargo carrying equipment, having introduced a large number of innovative, conceptual products that improve our clients operations and add value to their business. One of our key differentiators is the flexibility that we offer throughout our spectrum of services. We believe it is vital to offer flexibility coupled to innovations, developing ideas to suit the demanding requirements of each client.”
Throughout Conserve’s development process, health and safety is paramount: “Safety is the key issue throughout the industry, with the regulations and demands changing on a frequent basis,” says Pat. “It is our duty, as the supplier of cargo carrying units, often for hazardous materials, to collate all of the information available and develop a solution to best meet the requirements. Conserve was invited to attend a series of industry work groups to look into the designs and handling of chemical tanks, and what could be implemented to improve safety in these areas.”
As a result of these work groups, Conserve commenced work on developing a new tank that eliminated the majority of the safety risks: “Very early on we noticed that the tanks in the market place were not actually faulty in any way, but they still had the potential for incidents to occur,” Pat explains. “Companies had yet to look at designing a tank that would remove most of the potential safety hazards; accordingly the Conserve team sat down with a blank sheet of paper and came up with a new concept in chemical tanks that designed out the major safety risks. Following three years of investment and extensive research and development, we believe that the Safety Chemical Tank is not only safer for everyone involved, but gives the client added value.”
Pat elaborates on the benefits of the new tank: “The Safety Chemical Tank has been successful already, and the client base for it is growing constantly. There are many benefits of the Safety Chemical Tank, although the principle feature is its greatly reduced height. Conventional taller tanks are predominantly fitted with five leg lifting sets, and some operators require the top leg to be replaced every three years, due to the stresses they are regularly put under. The Safety Chemical Tank’s reduced height requires a four leg lifting set, which is safer as well as being more cost efficient.
“Before a tank leaves the supplier, chemical provider or is shipped it is subject to a series of pre-shipment checks regarding its lifting sets, lifting lugs, valves and other areas on top of the tank,” Pat continues. “With a conventional tank a platform or set of steps would be required to safely carry out these checks. However, the reduced height of the Safety Tank means that operatives can access all the areas from ground level, which is much safer, and they can carry out the required checks in a fraction of the time it takes for taller, conventional tanks.”
Pat explains that the lower height of the Safety Chemical Tank also makes it easier to take important readings: “When decanting tanks offshore it is sometimes necessary for the operator to climb on the frame, or inbuilt ladder to open and close the air vent valve. With the Safety Chemical Tank, the air vent valve is positioned for access from ground level for safer operation, and the document pocket, pressure/vacuum relief valve and the dip stick feature are all easily accessible from the ground, meaning that on the Safety Chemical Tank no climbing is necessary.”
In addition to the development of the Safety Chemical Tank, Conserve has recently developed an improved, safer variant of a chemical transportation IBC: “We were asked to look into this area after an offshore incident with a client’s IBC, when the frame failed during lifting and the contents burst from the plastic drum, spilling all over the deck,” says Pat. “Consequently, our solution was to source a triple skinned IBC and encapsulate it in a specially designed and certified lifting frame.
“We further improved the safety aspect of the IBC’s by fitting a combined pressure/vacuum relief facility within the filling cap, fitting an air vent valve to allow quicker decanting,” he elaborates. “Together with this, we incorporated a double closing discharge valve of the same size and type that is normally reserved for higher specification tanks. We more than surpassed the challenge to improve the IBCs, resulting in a better functioning unit with improved safety features, and the added value that the internal liner of the IBC has a life expectancy of five years, rather than five trips for the basic IBC.”
Pat believes that Conserve can continue to produce innovative solutions, leading the industry into the future: “As a whole, the industry is currently in a very good position but there is always room for improvement with regards to safety, not just locally, but on an international scale. I am currently in the process of discussing opportunities for additional business in Canada, the Gulf of Mexico, the Mediterranean and Shanghai for the new products. If we tie these in with the range of standard products that we can offer, we see a bright future.
“I believe that we will continue to grow in the coming years, hopefully doubling in size over the next two. Much of this depends on our suppliers who we are working very closely with to pre-book production capacity to cover confirmed orders. The nature and spread of our client base does however mean that we are always on the lookout for new suppliers to help us cover our overseas markets. There are no compromises when it comes to safety, or quality, and now there is an option that also gives added value to the client,” he concluded.