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Oil & Gas | March 26, 2018

9 Critical Reasons to add Wireless Thief Hatch Management

A thief hatch is a closeable lid at the top of a low-pressure holding tank for hydrocarbons such as oil or condensate, or water. It allows access for measurement, however, if left open it can allow hydrocarbon vapors to escape into the atmosphere as fugitive emissions. Hydrocarbon tanks are almost always Class 1 Div 1 hazardous locations.

  1. If your thief hatch pops open from overpressure conditions, or if an operator accidentally leaves it open, you could be in violation of strict air pollution compliance rules on fugitive emissions.
  2. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) Regulation 7, Section XII, “Volatile Organic Compound Emissions from Oil and Gas Operations”, requires facilities to control venting of natural gas from many oil and gas emission sources. The CDPHE has determined that improperly secured thief hatches, visible emissions from a flare, and audible emissions from a thief hatch or pressure relief device (PRV) are violations of Regulation No. 7.
  3. Many of the 23 oil producing states (including Ohio, Utah, Wyoming) are looking at the CDPHE rulebook as a possible blueprint for their state rules.
  4. The minimum fine by CDPHE for an open thief hatch, visible emissions from a flare or audible emissions from a thief hatch or PRV is $15,000/day.
  5. The duration of each fugitive emission violation is assumed to be at least one day unless evidence gathered by the CDPHE and/or provided by the source proves otherwise.
  6. The USEPA’s new regulations affecting methane (CH4) and VOC emissions from the oil and gas sector became effective August 3, 2016. Updates to NSPS OOOO list storage thief hatches as one of the fugitive emission leak components that will be periodically checked for leaks using optical gas imaging (OGI).
  7. Thief hatches are usually easy to see and make easy pickings for regulatory compliance inspectors. Inspectors will often check thief hatches first, and use them as indicators of other violations for a site.
  8. Open thief hatch detection is a powerful tool to minimize fugitive emissions. Most solutions on the market to detect an open thief hatch are wired and expensive to install and integrate into an existing SCADA system.
  9. FreeWave delivers an inexpensive and easy to deploy Class 1 Div 1 wireless solution for Thief Hatch Monitoring with the WC30i-AXIS Angle Sensor.
    FreeWave’s new WC30i-AXIS Wireless Angle Sensor is a solid-state inclinometer that measures the opening angle of a Thief Hatch and reports as closed, cracked or open. It links wirelessly to the WC45i Gateway, which communicates to the PLC or SCADA system with Modbus communication protocol.
    Together with the WC45i Gateway, the WAVECONTACT system is easily and quickly deployed to implement industrial automation where wired installations are cost prohibitive.

The WAVECONTACT System has been designed for deployment in Class 1 Div 1 locations.

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