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API Publishes First-Edition Document Enhancing Safety of Onshore Drilling and Production

The American Petroleum Institute (API) published an important first-edition document focused on improving the safety of onshore drilling and production operations. API Bulletin 16H, Automated Safety Instrumented Systems for Onshore Blowout Preventer Actuation, is the first upstream document that provides information on existing and emerging technologies to bring a well to a safe state if other operational barriers fail.

“Our mission is to drive continuous industry improvements while keeping up with emerging technology,” Global Industry Services Senior Vice President Anchal Liddar said. “This first-edition API bulletin about onshore automated safety instrumented systems showcases our commitment to evolving technologies that contribute to safety and sustainability.”

The bulletin provides recommendations for the equipment, interfaces and management of automated safety systems and alarms for blowout preventers. In an onshore environment, an automated safety instrumented system is designed to bring the well to a safe state in the event that site personnel do not recognize a serious well control incident or are unable to respond to one. Safety instrumented systems have been utilized in process facilities – refining, chemical and nuclear – as an integral part of a critical process system and this bulletin expands this usage into upstream natural gas and oil.

The document states original equipment manufacturers should consider existing and emerging technologies to conduct risk assessments, evaluate equipment compatibility and perform function testing to develop a safety instrumented system to place a well in a safe state. Additionally, the bulletin provides an overview of components for future research into developing automated well control actuation systems.

Developing and fully implementing automated safety instrumented systems has the potential to transform and empower natural gas and oil exploration and production. These technologies can help automate and expand ways to mitigate unexpected well control events driving safety and operational improvements for the industry and reducing the risk of fugitive emissions arising from these events.

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