Reliable CCTV solutions is a necessity in all industries where safety and security are a constant concern.
The ability to monitor and control activities, applications and processes plays an important role in providing a safe work environment and preventing accidents, injuries, and equipment damage.
In certain industries, however, this need for a reliable surveillance and security system is made all the more important by extreme and challenging conditions, hazardous atmospheres and a potentially fatal risk of fires and explosions.
In this article we examine the requirements and standards for CCTV solutions in hazardous areas and explosive atmospheres (EX zones).
Norway’s most important export sector
The oil and gas industry is Norway’s most important and lucrative export sector. The Norwegian government estimates that oil and gas activities have created values of approximately 1.65 trillion dollars (14 trillion NOK) since the discovery of the Ekofisk oil field in 1969.
Today, Norway is amongst the top 15 oil producing countries in the world, with daily production of approximately 1.65 million barrels.
Employing around 180.000 people – many of whom work in hazardous conditions on oil platforms, drilling rigs, and Floating Production, Storage and Offloading vessels (FSPOs) operating offshore on the Norwegian continental shelf – safety and security is, naturally, of the utmost importance for the oil and gas industry.
CCTV necessary to monitor and control all activities
In order to maintain its high standards for safety and security, the oil and gas industry depends heavily on its control systems’ ability to visualize and manage critical processes on and around rigs and platforms, as well as the ability to monitor and control all field activities and applications in real time.
Because oil rigs, drilling platforms and FSPOs are often remotely located in the middle of the North Sea, and subject to extreme conditions, they require an extensive and reliable CCTV surveillance and security system that functions properly even in the most challenging environments.
Due to the nature of the industry, drilling for, collecting and transporting highly flammable oil and gas, most areas on or around oil platforms and rigs are considered hazardous atmospheres. This means special precautions are needed to prevent fires and explosions.
What is an explosive atmosphere?
Although every environment is different, each with its own specific requirements depending on the nature of the atmosphere and present elements, a hazardous area may generally be defined as any location where there is a risk of explosions.
For an environment to be classified as an explosive atmosphere three components are required:
- A flammable substance (e.g. gas, vapours, dusts)
- Oxygen (required in high quantities)
- An ignition source (such as a spark or high heat)
Explosive atmospheres are generally divided into three separate categories:
- Category 1: Risk of explosions due to the presence of flammable gas or suspended droplets
- Category 2: Risk of explosions due to flammable dust
- Category 3: Risk of explosions due to the substance itself being explosive
Defining the level of risk in hazardous atmospheres
The primary concern for the oil and gas industry the is hazardous atmospheres classified as Category 1.
This classification is divided into three separate EX zones based on the associated risk of explosions, defined by characteristics such as lower and upper explosive limits, equipment layout, relative density, ventilation and the grade of the source of release.
Most, importantly, the level of risk is defined by the frequency and duration of the occurrence of an explosive atmosphere.
The three EX zones are defined as follows:
- EX Zone 0:
An area in which an explosive atmosphere consisting of a mixture with air of dangerous substances in the form of gas, vapor or mist is present continuously or for long periods or frequently.
- EX Zone 1:
An area in which an explosive atmosphere consisting of a mixture with air of dangerous substances in the form of gas, vapor or mist is likely to occur in normal operation occasionally.
- EX Zone 2:
An area in which an explosive atmosphere consisting of a mixture with air of dangerous substances in the form of gas, vapor or mist is not likely to occur in normal operation but, if it does occur, will persist for a short period only.
Any area that does not belong in any of these zones is considered non-hazardous.
Location determines the required classification
All electrical equipment located in these harsh and hazardous environments, including CCTV cameras and the accompanying system, must be designed in accordance with EX zone classifications and the EU’s ATEX directives.
On oil platforms CCTV cameras are typically located in areas with an EX Zone 1 classification, as these are the most important areas to monitor.
Ideally, surveillance stations with computers, control systems, switches, remote terminal units (RTUs) etc. are located in a non-explosive area – but this is not always an option. If the equipment must be placed in Zone 1 areas it needs the proper certification, and a common solution is to build an enclosure for the equipment that is Zone 1 certified.
A better option, if applicable, is to place surveillance stations in Zone 2 areas. Using EX Zone 2 certified equipment in these areas does not require an enclosure, reducing costs of both equipment and installation.
Withstanding hazardous conditions and preventing sparks
Within both of these zones the equipment must be compliant with the rigid industry performance standards that guarantee their ability to withstand challenging factors, such as:
- Varying high and low temperatures
- High vibration
- Corrosive and abrasive elements
In addition, all electrical components must be designed to prevent sparks that could potentially ignite a flammable substance. Mechanically generated impact or friction sparks, electric sparks, high surface temperature, electrostatic discharge and radiation are all potential ignitors that may cause an explosion.
30 years of experience with CCTV for hazardous areas
Hatteland Technology has over 30 years of experience with providing industrial, maritime and offshore industries with complete CCTV solutions. We assist and advise electrical sub-contractors and installers in finding a tailored CCTV setup that is compliant with requirements and standards in all hazardous areas.
We provide equipment for control systems, visualization, and wireless communication for EX systems and surveillance in hazardous zones.
System components, such as PCs, panel PCs, RTUs, switches and converters, uphold EX Zone 2 standards. In addition, we deliver EX Zone 1 ATEX cameras that can withstand even the harshest environment.
Our main three categories of EX Zone 1 CCTV cameras are:
Hatteland Technology is a dedicated supplier of top-class CCTV cameras and components for hazardous areas from Moxa, Aplex, Axiomtek and Videotec.