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‘Explosive’ JIP underway at DNV GL’s hazard awareness training centre

Driven by its purpose of safeguarding life, property and the environment, DNV GL has today officially opened a new, state-of-the-art training centre at its large-scale testing and research facility at Spadeadam in Cumbria, UK. It was opened by The Rt Hon The Lord Cullen of Whitekirk KT. The international oil & gas advisory and classification society is also inviting participation in a new joint industry project (JIP) to improve cost-efficiencies in explosion protection designs for process areas with testing to take place at the site.

Elisabeth Tørstad, CEO, DNV GL – Oil & Gas

More than £3 million has been invested in the Spadeadam Testing and Research centre to enhance its offering to perform rarely available trials in a controlled and secure ‘real-life’ environment. The site features some of the world's most advanced destructive and non-destructive test facilities. The new training and conference facility will enhance experiential learning for the oil and gas, chemical, utilities and security industries. 

Elisabeth Tørstad, CEO, DNV GL – Oil & Gas, said: “While the industry is understandably preoccupied with generating shorter-term value, we must be vigilant in ensuring safety remains as a top priority. Our challenge is to continue giving the message to clients that cutting costs without understanding the bigger risk picture can end up being ineffective, and ultimately very costly to the business. 

“The primary role of the Spadeadam Testing and Research centre is to provide our clients with the knowledge and understanding to ensure risks are reduced and operations are safer. It is the availability of this infrastructure that allows Spadeadam to respond so effectively across a number of sectors.” 

The Rt Hon The Lord Cullen of Whitekirk KT, said: “I welcome the creation of this conference centre for the support of training. Hazard awareness is essential for the successful management of safety in the interface between people, plant and equipment, with which they have to work.”

Spadeadam will run full-scale experiments, using available test rigs, for a new DNV GL-led JIP, CostFX, to investigate cost-efficient explosion load descriptions for process areas. The project, which is still open to new participants, is driven by a need to improve and align knowledge between HSE and structural disciplines on explosion load criteria. The aim is to reduce complexity and over design in current models and methodologies for explosion protection, while balancing demand for valid, accountable safety margins. The results will be used to generate standards and guidelines to allow structural engineers to pre-define design explosion loads for standard installations, mitigating the need for costly, specialist analyses. For non-standard installations, a direct link from complex explosion load assessments to structure response and design analyses will be provided. Overall saving in project execution, duration and steel thickness is foreseen, while areas where increased safety is needed will be identified - providing both increased safety and reduced cost. 

Work carried out at the site, which is the largest facility of its kind in the UK, consists of confidential, large-scale, major hazard tests, including flammable gas dispersion, fires, explosions, pipeline fracture tests, blast and product testing in a safe and secure environment. 

Hari Vamadevan, Regional Manager, UK and West Africa, DNV GL – Oil & Gas, said: “The demonstrations today, showcasing an explosion simulation and a pipeline failure, have been a real testament to the capability of the centre at Spadeadam. The ability to show first-hand the reality of these types of scenarios shows just what can happen when things go wrong. Our highly specialised hazards awareness courses demonstrate how this can be prevented and that the experience and variety of work being carried out is unrivalled. 

“Although the oil and gas and other industries are facing challenging times, safety is one area which cannot be compromised and it is important that we provide an environment where research and training can be conducted safely, securely and confidentially.”