Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Under Pressure

Well, we're headed to the home dock for the day today. Just pumped off a small cargo parcel, and headed to the barn for the annual pressure test.

         Once a year, maritime vessels engaged in oil transport have to have their hoses and pipelines pressure tested. Now, our maximum operating pressure is 100PSI. WHen we're pumping into a small diameter pipeline, we'll sometimes reach 100psi of back pressure on our pipes and pumps, and that will be our maximum for the transfer. For pressure testing,  the staff will flood the piping with fresh water, and run the internal pressure in the pipelines and hoses up to 150psi, in our case, and then go looking for leaks and check as to whether the pressure stays stable over time. It takes a few hours to do. The idea being that it's better to find leaks or have a catastrophic failure under test conditions than when, say, pumping oil.  There has been at least one catastrophic failure in the past few months locally, where an oil transfer hose blew out mid-transfer, putting oil on deck and in the water. Wasn't us, anyhow.

 So, part of my job is to walk the pipeline before and during every load and discharge starts, and do a visual inspection, look for dings, nicks and drips.  The guy on watch will do the same thing constantly throughout the watch. Most often, drips come from the packing gland around valve stems, and literally involved  a few drops of oil getting forced out, which gets remedied with a wipe with a rag and a 1/4 turn on the packing gland bolts. Takes about 30 seconds, and happens maybe once a year or so. Aside from it being our job, oil on deck, or, heaven forfend, in the water, is an utter shit show, and to be avoided like herpes, through vigilance,  caution and proper risk management.

 Anyways, it's usually also a chance to stock up on supplies and go shopping too, so while it might be a long day, it's usually a good one.

1 comment:

JayNola said...

As long as the guy tightening the packing gland bolt remembers righty tighty... ask me how I know ...