Valve Automation Systems – Reducing Risk


As oil, gas and petrochemical companies rise to the challenge of meeting the increasing demands of ever stricter environmental and health and safety regulations, valve automation systems, developed by Frames, are playing a key role in delivering the High Integrity Protection Systems (HIPS) needed.

Poor environmental practices are being progressively phased out. Flaring, once common place, is no longer acceptable. More importantly, it no longer makes business sense. As HIPS technology has matured, installing a flare stack is no longer cost-effective compared with a High Integrity Pressure Protection Systems (HIPPS). “With a highly reliable HIPPS, emissive protection systems are no longer required, and the design pressure rating of downstream systems may be greatly reduced, with significant cost savings and operational benefits,” says Thomas de Wolf, HIPS product specialist, Frames.

Over the past 35 years, Frames has developed highly reliable valve automation packages for four types of high integrity protection systems: HIPPS, High Integrity Temperature Protection Systems, High Integrity Level Protection Systems and HIPS Interlock Systems.  It was an early adopter of a quality system to design, build, test and deliver protective systems that return a system to a safe state whilst keeping emissions to zero. The quality system, established in accordance with IEC 61511, is the first Functional Safety Management System certified by TÜV Rheinland; and covers procedures to design and build High Integrity Protection Systems up to and including Safety Integrity Level 3 (SIL3).

Thomas de Wolf points to the importance of being valve manufacturer independent as a major contributor to successful HIPS implementation. “Most HIPS suppliers are valve makers who have decided to offer HIPS based on their range of valves. Inevitably, this means that they only offer solutions based on this range. Frames, on the other hand, can offer the valve best suited to the application. Where others have only a certificate to build the valve, Frames is able to integrate all the elements to offer a complete solution as well as providing full documentation. Importantly, with a Frames HIPPS there are no limitations on pressure.”

Frames has supplied API 17C compliant HIPS for various assets all over the world. Early this year a package was delivered to a major end-user in Brazil to protect the tie-in of a new flowline at lower pressure. This tie-in would have required an upgrade of the existing flare system; a highly costly modification. The Frames HIPPS package gives >99.9% reliable protection against overpressure and effectively replaced the high cost relief system.

De Wolf again. “Frames HIPS is ideal for any out of the envelope system being brought back to a safe state – so can be applied to other areas, hence our four types of HIPS. Implementation is important too. To increase the reliability and minimize installation efforts (and errors) HIPS should be skid-mounted, providing a plug-and-play solution.” In 2017, Frames supplied two skid-mounted systems to a Mexican operator to protect the entire onshore facilities against over pressurization caused by high-pressure gas coming from an offshore pipeline. Similarly, during modification of a FPSO Turret System in Angola, a new water-alternating-gas injection line needed to be protected against the risk of overpressure. Using two compact valves and actuators, the Frames HIPPS system fitted on to a 6” pipe with a footprint of only 2.2×1.2 meters.

With an outstanding track record of protecting assets worldwide, Frames has demonstrated the importance of manufacturer independence for the complete HIPS system from a true integrator with a clear focus: maximum safety, minimum cost, zero emission.



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