The Importance of Gas Detection in the Petrochemical Industry

The petrochemicals sector is not directly related to oil or gas. It takes the raw materials produced by refining and gas processing and converts them through chemical processes into valuable products. The organic chemicals most frequently produced in this sector are methanol (and its derivatives), ethylene, propylene, butadiene, benzene, toluene, and xylenes. These chemicals are used to make many consumer products, including clothing, plastics, and synthetic detergents.

Potential Hazards:

As these activities are not part of normal refinery operations, it is more likely that you will be exposed to potentially hazardous substances during shutdowns or maintenance. These deviations from the normal routine require caution to be taken at all times in order to avoid inhaling toxic gases or solvent vapors. Constant automated monitoring can help detect the presence of gases or solvents and mitigate their risks. Gas and flame detectors, emergency procedures, and permit systems are included to ensure safety.

The petroleum industry is divided into three main areas: upstream, midstream, and downstream. Each area is defined by the type of work carried out there. The upstream sector is usually known as exploration and production. Midstream refers to the transport of products via pipelines, transits, and oil tanks, as well as wholesale marketing of petroleum products. The downstream sector includes the refining and processing of crude petroleum oil, and raw natural gas, and the marketing and distribution of finished products.


Gas detectors, both fixed and portable, are required to protect personnel and plants from the dangers of flammable gases (commonly ethane) and high levels of H2S from sour wells. Gas detectors are essential items of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) and should be highly visible and placed near the breathing area. Sometimes HF is used to clean surfaces. Gas detectors must have a rugged, reliable design with a long battery life. Models that have design elements to support fleet management and compliance are clearly an advantage. Learn more about VOCs and Crowcon’s solution in our case study.


It is important to monitor flammable gas leaks in areas near pressure relief devices and filling/emptying zones. Portable multi-gas monitors are essential to ensure personal safety when working in confined areas and for hot work permit testing. Infrared technology for flammable gas detectors can be used to support purging and operate in inert environments. It also provides reliable detection where pellistor-type detectors fail due to poisoning or exposure at volume levels. Read more about infrared gas detection in our blog and explore our case study on infrared monitoring at refineries in Southeast Asia.

Portable laser methane detectors (LMm) allow users to pinpoint leaks from a distance or in difficult-to-reach locations, reducing the risk of personnel entering potentially dangerous situations or environments while performing routine leak monitoring or investigation. Using LMm, you can quickly and effectively check for methane in an area with a reflective reflector from up to 100m. This includes closed buildings, confined areas, and other hard-to-reach places such as above-ground pipelines near water or behind fencing.


Gases that can be a risk in downstream refining include almost any hydrocarbon and hydrogen sulfide, as well as other by-products. Catalytic flammable gas detectors are among the oldest types of flammable detectors. These detectors work very well but must be tested with a bump test station to ensure that each one is functional and responds to gas. Gas detection manufacturers are under pressure to provide solutions that reduce downtime while ensuring safety, especially during shutdowns and turnaround operations.

During shutdowns of plants, many processes are stopped. Equipment is opened and checked, and the site has a much higher number of vehicles and people than usual. Many processes will be hazardous, and gas monitoring is required. To protect workers on-site, for example, welding and tank washing activities require both area monitors and personal monitors.

Space is limited, and hydrogen sulfide, also known as H2S, is a problem that can arise in the storage and transport of crude oil. Cleaning storage tanks can be a dangerous task. This can lead to a number of problems with confined space entry, such as oxygen deficiency due to previous inerting, rusting, and oxidation. Inerting involves reducing oxygen levels within a cargo tank to remove the oxygen required for ignition. Inerting gases can contain carbon monoxide. Other chemicals, such as metal carbonyls and arsenic, may also be present, depending on what product was previously stored in the tank.

Our Solutions:

Gas detection equipment is essential for protecting workers, contractors, and permanent employees. The detection of gas can be done in fixed or portable form. Gas detection is available in a variety of portable models, including Clip SGD, Gasman, Gas-Pro TK, T4, and Detective+. Fixed gas detectors can be used in a variety of applications, where reliability, dependability, and the absence of false alarms are important for efficient and effective detection. These include Xgard, Xgard Bright, Fgard IR3 flame Detector, and IRmax. Our gas detection control panel offers a range of flexible solutions for measuring flammable, toxic, and oxygen gases. They can also activate alarms and other equipment. For the petrochemical sector, these panels include addressable controllers Vortex and Gasmonitor.

This post was written by Justin Tidd, Director at Becker Mining Communications! For over 15 years, Becker Communications has been the industry’s leader in Gas Monitoring Devices and electrical mining communication systems. As they expanded into surface mining, railroads, and tunneling they added wireless communication systems, handheld radios, tagging, and tracking systems, as well as gas monitoring.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Back to top button