The offshore environment is hazardous. Not only are there the usual dangers associated with oil and gas, helicopters and marine vessels, there are also climatic and environmental hazards present that number amongst the worst that our planet can dish out.

Working offshore requires technicians to have appropriate tickets and qualifications for the job, which often means a continual learning process over a period of years. For industry, keeping the necessary lights on while complying with a strict national and international regulatory regime is a niche market and, despite the challenges, innovation is ongoing.

Low-energy, high-efficiency lighting

McGeogh LED Technology from Cumbria in the UK has a new hazardous area product range set for an official launch in the second quarter of 2011.

The McGeogh Endurance, a self-contained LED luminaire replacement for 2×18W traditional fluorescent lighting units, is “designed to meet the low-energy, high-efficiency and environmental lighting demands of the oil and gas industries”. The Endurance features high-power LEDs in a sealed unit with a constant current of 700mA, and a driver circuit from a global mains supply with a low-level emergency supply. McGeogh says that the Endurance also offers “reduced power consumption and maintenance-free operation, and is completely and environmentally safe, with no disposal of mercury”.

“The Endurance offers reduced power consumption and maintenance-free operation.”

The Endurance is IECEx (International Electrotechnical Commission system for certification to standards relating to equipment for use in explosive atmospheres) classified and ATEX (atmosphere explosibles) approved. Other features include the ability to operate within a temperature range of -20°C to +60°C; an area classification of Zone 1 and Zone 21 to EN60079 (Dust Group 111C); salt and vibration tested to Lloyds standards; and a rugged steel, aluminium and polycarbonate construction. The optical properties include a luminance of 180lux at 2m (compliant to IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission 6189-2).

Helicopter platform lighting takes off

Also in the UK, Glasgow-based Victor Lighting, which forms part of the Hubbell Electrical Products (HEP) group, is still innovating in its eighth decade of business. In the hazardous area and harsh environment sector, the company has recently added the high-efficiency Vanguard VL34 light, which it says provides safer and glare-free perimeter lighting for helicopter platforms. The fully IECEx and ATEX-compliant VL34 for Zone 1 hazardous areas has an epoxy-coated die-cast body. The company says that the light has high-efficiency 8×1W green light-emitting diodes (LEDs), has a projected working life of 80,000 hours and will operate in a temperature band between -45°C to +55°C. In the event of a power outage, the unit can function for an additional 90 minutes through a built-in battery back-up.

Across the North Sea in the Netherlands, Orga Offshore has launched a new helideck status LED light system. Orga’s 425EX meets the, “UK Civil Aviation Authority’s (CAA) CAP437 guidance for offshore helicopter landing decks,” says Daniel Powell, Orga’s business development manager. “The latest CAP437 requirements demand a status light signalling system that is visible 360° around the offshore structure with a flash rate of 120 flashes a minute. The system needs to be fully automatic and operated by a control panel that interfaces with the platform’s fire and gas detection system.” Orga has been in the offshore lighting business for over 30 years and works with regulatory bodies to provide systems that satisfy national regulations, local civil aviation authorities, the International Civil Aviation Authority (ICAA) and the International Association of Lighthouse Authorities (IALA).

“The new 425EX light is a combination of Orga’s
knowledge and experience of explosion-proofing technologies.”

In addition to offshore marine navigation systems, Orga also has a range of cost effective and energy saving helideck products including perimeter lights, windsocks and status lights. The company provides installation, maintenance and training services too. Powell says that the new 425EX light is a combination of the company’s knowledge and experience of explosion-proofing technologies and meets the recommendations and functions reliably with minimum energy and maintenance requirements. “The L425EX is explosion proof and has been certified to meet the IECEx standards and the European ATEX directive,” says Powell. “The L425EX’s design uses state-of-the-art LED technology and the latest high-power LED lights. It operates in temperatures from -40°C to +55°C and can be used in all environmental conditions worldwide.”

The helideck status light also has stainless steel mountings to eradicate touch corrosion issues and its state-of-the-art optical design means a very low power consumption of only 35W when active. “The low-profile design (<250mm) makes the L425EX status light unique,” says Powell. “It is the only CAP437-compliant status light that can be mounted directly on the helideck. It means that brackets, which are difficult to install and expensive, are no longer needed.” In terms of control, the L425EX can be monitored by the client’s systems via a separate modular control panel that Orga says is easy to operate and maintain.