TDW Offshore Services has announced that the final component of its SmartTrack remote tracking and pressure-monitoring system has been awarded ATEX certification for use in zone 1 hazardous locations by Det Norske Veritas (DNV) in Norway.
Communicating through pipelines
The SmartTrack system is designed to communicate through oil and gas pipelines. Based on electromagnetic technology using extremely low frequency (ELF), the SmartTrack product family consists of different types of receivers and transmitters. Because both the receivers and transmitters can send and transmit information, they are known as transceivers and transponders. Transponders are typically mounted on a pipeline pig, given an identification code, and transmit a unique signal pattern so that the location of each individual pig in a multiple pig train can be readily identified.
The transceivers are placed on or near the pipeline, and receive the transmitted signals. The SmartTrack system tracks pigs, whether they are subsea, topside or inside underground pipelines located onshore. The strength, frequency and identification of each signal can even be changed while the transponder is in the pipeline.
Final piece of the puzzle: SmartTrack remote transceiver certified
The topside transceiver and handheld personal digital assistant (PDA) use intrinsic safety, while the transponder D116 uses flameproof enclosure protection. All three are ATEX-certified for use in zone 1, gas group B. With the ATEX-certification of the SmartTrack remote transceiver in place, customers can now use a fully ATEX- certified SmartTrack system. Using a personal computer, the system can communicate with, and activate – deactivate and change all parameters of – the SmartPlug® pipeline isolation tool.
Strict safety standards in Europe
In 2003, the European Commission adopted the ATEX Directive 94/9/EC, a law that requires industrial companies in EU member states that manufacture, use or distribute any type of equipment for use in a potentially explosive atmosphere must comply with a set of rigorous safety standards aimed at preventing explosions, and protecting people in the event of an explosion. With nearly every rig and platform presenting a potentially explosive atmosphere at some point, the impact of this new legislation for the European oil and gas communities has been considerable.
An ‘explosive atmosphere’ is broadly defined as one that could become explosive as the result of a change in atmospheric or operating conditions. The ATEX directive sets out a range of danger zones from 0 – 2, with zone 0 designated as one in which an explosive atmosphere is continuous or present for extended periods. To assess whether equipment conforms, there are different procedures depending on the type of equipment and the zone in which it is located.