The 50 Major Engineering Failures (1977-2007) Part-4

List of Engineering Failures Contributed by Material Failures, Corrosion, Design Flaw, and Construction Defect in Oil and Gas Production Facilities, Hydrocarbon Processing, and Oil and Gas Distribution

(Part 4 of 5) -Muhammad Abduh (

39. Roncador Brazil – March 15, 2001 (Tank Leaking, Offshore Platform, 2 killed, 8 missed, USD 515,000,000)

Figure Showing P-36 listing and arrangement of EDT

Official investigation report to the fire, explosion, and sinking to P-36 the largest offshore production facility said that the P-36 accident did not occur due to one single cause but was provoked by a series of factors. Chronology of the accident started from the failure of starboard emergency drain tank (EDT). Excessive pressure in Starboard EDT due to a mixture of water, oil, and gas, which caused rupture and leaking the EDT fluids into the fourth level of the column. The unexpected flow through the entry valve of the starboard EDT can be related with the blocking of the vent and the racket absence in the entry valve. The rupture of the EDT caused damage to other vital elements in the column including the sea water service pipe that initiating the flooding of this compartment and released gas to
and ignited explosion. (Source 1, 2, 3, Location)

40. Carson City California US – April 23, 2001 (Pipe Leaking, Refinery, USD 120,000,000/124,000,000)

A pipe segment leak resulted fire in a refinery coker unit. A report said that smoke from the fire rose to over 3,000 feet and the coker unit was shut down for approximately two months. The exact cause of pipe leakin is still under investigation. (Source, Location)

41. Rawdhatain Kuwait – January 31, 2002 (Pipe Leaking, Refinery, 4 killed,18 injured, USD 200,000,000)

A pipe leak resulted in major explosion at an oil gathering center killing four people and made 18 other severely injured. Three main facilities at the production site were destroyed. Production restored to its normal 500,000 bbl/day a month later. (Source)

42. Brookdale Manitoba Canada- April 14, 2002 (Stress Corrosion Cracking, Natural Gas Pipeline, USD 13,000,000)

A 36-inches diameter natural gas pipeline ruptured at a zone of near neutral pH stress corrosion cracking (SCC). Following the rupture the sweet natural gas ignited. Technical investigation report determined that pipeline ruptured due to overstress extension of pre-existing cracks. The cracks had initiated on the outside surface of the pipe and progressed in a mode of failure of transgranular SCC. The pipeline was constructed I 1970 by double submerged arc welded straight seam pipe by the accordance of API 5L Grade X65. (Source, Location)

43. Moomba Australia – January 1, 2004 (Liquid Metal Embrittlement, Gas Processing Plant, USD 5,000,000)

Figure showing failed HE Nozzle of Moomba Gas Plant (Courtesy of AON)

The gas was released that led to vapor cloud explosion. The gas released was caused by the failure of a heat exchanger inlet nozzle in the liquids recovery plant. The failure of the inlet nozzle was due to liquid metal embrittlement of the train B aluminium heat exchanger by elemental mercury. (Source, Location)

44. Skikda Algeria – January 19, 2004 (Liquid Metal Embrittlement, LNG Plant, 27 killed 72 injured, USD 30,000,000)

Figure showing destroyed Skikda LNG Plant

A report noted that the explosion was the consequence of a catastrophic failure in one of the cold boxes of Unit 40, which led to a vapour cloud explosion of either LNG or refrigerant. The most probable source of ignition was the boiler at the north end of Unit 40. The report concluded that the escaped gas was from the cryogenic heat exchanger. (Source, Location)

45. Humber Estuary Killingholme UK – April 16, 2001 (Erosion Corrosion, Refinery, USD 82,400,000)

Figure showing destroyed Humber Estuary Refinery (HSE UK)

On 16 April 2001 a fire and explosion occurred at Humber Refinery following the catastrophic failure of an overhead gas pipe. Investigation was carried by The Competent Authority and the plant operator company by legislative mechanism under Control of Major Hazard (COMAH) Regulation 1999. Humber refinery was one of approximately 1000 major hazard site under this regulation. The competent authority consisted of Health and Safety Executive (HSE) UK and Environment Agency (EA).

Figure showing failed elbow of Humber Estuary Refinery (HSE UK)

The cause of the piping system failure was the erosion corrosion of the 6-inches diameter pipe, known P4363, which carried the overhead line from the De-ethanizer (W413) to the heat exchanger (X452) in saturate gas plant (SGP) unit. The failure occurred down stream of a closely water injection point. Examination to the failed elbow recovered from the damage site showed wall thickness thinning from 7-8 mm to a minimum 0.3 mm. When the pipe failed it burst open catastrophically causing a full bore type of release the pipe contents.
The water injection point was not the original design of the piping system. Water injection to the vapor stream between the top de-ethanizer column and the heat exchanger was addressed to solve the previous problem of salts or hydrates fouling in heat exchanger X452/3. An injection point was created in P4363 by piping water to an existing 1 inches vent point on the pipe without injection quill or dispersal device and made the water entering the pipe as a free jet.

Similar Accident: Wilmington California United States 8 October 1992, North Rhine West Phalia Germany 10 December 1991,Yokkaichi Mie Japan 2 May 1997, Mina Al-Ahmadi Kuwait 25 June 2000. (Source, Location)

4 Responses to The 50 Major Engineering Failures (1977-2007) Part-4

  1. […] major accidents related with corrosion: Texas City Refinery March 23, 2005; Moomba Gas Plant Australia January 1, 2004; Skikda LNG Plant 2004; Humber Estuary Refinery UK April 16, 2001; Brookdale Pipeline Manitoba […]

  2. loadingmaster says:

    Great post.Thanks for sharing.

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