By Jim DeLee, Sr. Member, Technical Staff, Fluid Components International (FCI)
In oil/gas production, refining and storage operations around the globe, flare gas systems are used to burn-off and dispose of waste, excess or off-gases, and as a safety system. The accurate, responsive and reliable measurement of flare gas is essential in order to assure proper operation of the flare gas system, which protects people and equipment from potentially hazardous combustible gas to maintain a safe working environment and to avoid environmental contamination.
Flare gas flow meters provide plant operations managers with an intelligent tool to signal abnormal process changes, early leak detection and report on flared gases to comply with safety and environmental agency reporting. Flare gas systems are installed on offshore platforms and in land-based production fields, on transport ships and in port facilities, at storage tank farms and along distribution pipelines.
The dangers of improper hydrocarbon gas handling are well known and are regulated strictly by the United States (U.S.) Occupational, Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) as well as other international safety organizations. The combustible and flammable properties of hydrocarbons make their handling a highly regulated process, requiring flow meter design certifications from multiple international approval agencies including FM, FMc, ATEX and IECEx to name a few.