Safety is at the heart of any major operation where personnel, and the community at large, are present. The presence of a pop off valve in a system that operates under pressure is for one purpose — avoiding a catastrophic event. While the language and overall message seem a bit extreme, it is important to know that a pressurized system, even a low-pressure one, has the potential of causing harm to expensive components, property, the environment, and most importantly, people.

Differences Between Valve Types

This is not to say that this is the only type of system that is in place. Pressurized systems generally have two type of valves integrated into their operation. The first is a pressure relief valve, sometimes referred to as simply a PRV. It works as more of a regulatory component in that a PRV is in place to protect the system components. The valve may be slightly open during operation. However, it is done in a way to keep consistent pressure in place. PRVs are made to open in a gradual manner, proportional to the pressure increasing in the system. As the pressure increase diminishes, so, too, the PRV gradually closes.

Pop off valves, also referred to as pressure safety valves (PSVs) or just safety valves, are the last defense option. Should a pressurized system become unwieldy enough that the PRV is compromised, the pop off valve goes into action. Because their function is to relieve the system of overpressure as soon as possible, they open immediately.

The main materials used to make pop off valves includes brass and stainless steel. The material used will depend on the application. For example, brass, while able to handle most situations, is not particularly good in the presence of corrosive materials. On the other hand, stainless steel handles corrosive materials very well. What’s more, stainless steel is also used in applications that have significantly higher pressure & temperature ranges. There is also consideration to be given toward choosing the right relieving capacity for the valves used.

Prioritizing Safety

A final consideration regarding a pop off valve should be in terms of inspection, monitoring, and eventual replacement. If a pop off valve is repeatedly engaging & reseating, it will eventually become less effective and/or fail. Not taking the proactive steps to inspect & monitor a pop off valve could lead to a catastrophic failure, the likes of which can put lives in danger.

It is no secret that the oil & gas industry is a dangerous environment, due to the omnipresent risk of being unable to maintain control of raw material pressure. A pop off valve is a critical part of the industry’s commitment to ensuring the safety & well-being of onsite personnel & the surrounding community.

To this end, it becomes clear that working with an oil & gas firm like CCI Culberson is a must. We are well-versed in the industry’s varied systems and have a stout flowback division staffed with the best personnel in the country. Click here to learn about our philosophies on how finding the right pop off valve is only part of our commitment to our clients.