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HIPPS – Black Magic or Science?

Recovering reserves at an acceptable capex investment for flowline and riser
installation presents significant challenges for deepwater projects.

High-integrity pressure protection systems (HIPPS) offer the potential to improve
recoverability. These systems provide pressure breaks between subsea systems that
are rated to full shut-in pressure and the flowline and riser, rated to a lower pressure.

The use of HIPPS is poorly understood and implemented, often causing additional
hazards and affecting reliability and uptime. Here – using project examples – Theon
Managing Director, Steve Rowbottom, asks why the industry is finding the use of
HIPPS so hard – and offers advice on how they can be used to best effect and value.

Example 1

This design example was tabled during a HAZOP as a solution to protect the
separators from over-pressure due to a packed flowline. In summary the issues faced
and problems identified were:

 Complex design – 11 flowlines connecting into each separator
 The Logic Solver needs to know which separator each flowline is lined up to at
all times
 HIPPS valves closed by 2oo3 High Pressure in individual flowline in inlet to
first stage separator, inlet to test separator (up and downstream of heat
exchanger)
 HIPPS valve also closed by 2oo3 High Level in each separator
 ESDV in HIPPS valve bypass will reduce the reliability of the system
 No credit for layers of protection taken
 Original design intent was not available
 This was a retrofit to an existing installation that had been in operation for more
than 20 years.

one failure scenario to be protected against is the Riser ESDV spuriously opening with packed line pressure behind it. The proposal uses the Riser ESDV and an additional ESDV as the valves to be closed by the HIPPS:  RiserESDV trips on process shutdown (ESD2)  Additional ESDV trips on ESD1  Over time valves will wear and allow leakage In this example. to achieve fast closure times. the ESDVs will need an additional actuator. This scenario removes one of the final elements from the design and therefore the system cannot meet the required SIL. connected to an existing separator. Also.Example 2 This example relates to a new field and riser. Why problems occur with HIPPS . requiring significant structural support (for 12” valves).

Lack of understanding of levels of protection. Lack of understanding of risk leading to inappropriate SIL assignment. Lack of clear design thinking. There is also a tendency for high pressure trips provided for process design reasons to become de-facto HIPPs systems when this was never the original design intent. A HIPPS system will sometimes offer a lower capital cost for a project due to the possibility to use lower pressure systems downstream of the HIPPS valves. There are a number of key points we would urge companies to consider in their design and use:  Whatever happened to Inherent Safety? – Design the problem out . which drives the perception that SILs should be high. Pay now vs Pay Later – Lack of holistic lifecycle thinking. HIPPS were originally conceived to remove the need for relief valves. This is a particular problem in schedule-driven projects. There is a tendency to – wrongly – believe it is easier to add a protection system than to design the problem out. Lack of understanding of on-going work to maintain HIPPS. as the findings of SIL Assessment Workshops and LOPAs are not rigorously checked. This can be exacerbated by a “this is what we did last time” approach to the problem and the use of inappropriate existing equipment – such as ESDVs Lack of design review. made worse by a lack of critical assessment of design – often until HAZOP. However these reduced capital costs are often out-weighed by the increased operational expenditure due to maintenance and the increased risk and loss of production of performance verification testing. HIPPS designed and used properly represent a valuable solution. Particularly in relation to testing frequency (which is often driven by inappropriate SIL) and to performance standards. How we believe it could be done better: Although complex and challenging. In our experience this is usually too high.Our considerable experience in this field has highlighted a number of key problems in the design and use of HIPPS.

serving owners. Steve Rowbottom has worked for and run a number of consultancies providing expertise to the energy industry.– Don’t “bolt on” protection systems – Set design pressures sensibly – Relief valves/flare systems  Take credit for layers of protection  Consider early in the design process  Don’t blindly copy previous designs  Consider other options Above all we would urge companies to seek advice. fit for purpose and offers the best long term solution to the issue of pressure protection of equipment. established as an independent consultancy to the oil and gas industry. Risk & Reliability. Ian Wallis. At Theon we have the experience and expertise to help. Ian has significant experience of operating at all levels of company management both as a consultant and an employee gained through working with contractors. Theon’s Director of Safety. owners and operators both in the UK and overseas. operators and contractors. He is one of the co-founders of Theon. has a broad spectrum of experience encompassing oil & gas. About the authors A trained and highly experienced chemical engineer. . chemicals and nuclear reprocessing. Our team of experienced process and technical safety engineers will challenge the design thinking and examine the proposed solution to ensure that the resulting design is appropriate.