OHS Code Explanation Guide

Published Date: July 01, 2009
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Part 33 Explosives Safety

Section 516 Oil well blasting

Subsection 516(1)

No explanation required.

Subsection 516(2)

Alberta Human Services recognizes the Perforating Industry Code of Practice as a set of practices approved by a Director of Inspection.

The Petroleum Services Association of Canada (PSAC) publishes the Perforating Industry Code of Practice which defines safety standards applicable to the perforating industry. Compliance with the Code is a condition of the operating license issued by Natural Resources Canada (NRCan), Explosives Regulatory Division and applies to both PSAC and non-PSAC members. The Code is updated as necessary by provincial and federal representatives to promote industry best practices. Because of NRCan’s reliance on the Code for regulatory purposes, NRCan has final approval of any revisions prior to publication. NRCan conducts annual, unannounced inspections of license holders, basing their inspection on the requirements of the Code.

The purpose of the PSAC Code of Practice is to inform personnel in the perforating sector of safety standards applicable to their business. The Code includes

(a) storage requirements – explosives in a magazine, loaded perforating guns and during transportation on motor vehicles,
(b) safe shop handling procedures – in loading and charging area,
(c) standard operating procedures – for the preparation, handling, loading and disposal of explosives,
(d) emergency procedures and reporting – of incidents involving explosives, vehicle breakdowns and the theft or loss of explosives, and
(e) fire fighting procedures – for shop or vehicle fires.

Copies of the Code of Practice can be purchased by contacting:

PSAC Code of Practice

Subsections 516(3) and 516(4)

In oil well blasting and perforating, loaders handle stable charges when loading perforating guns at the workshop and do not handle detonators. As a result, this section exempts loaders from having to hold a valid blaster’s permit. However, the employer continues to be responsible for ensuring that loaders are competent at their work and have access to a blaster whenever assistance is required. Access to the blaster can include telephone and portable two-way radio.

The task of “arming” perforating guns is restricted to blasters having a valid blaster’s permit.

Subsection 516(5)

Tubing Conveyed Perforating (CP) is a method of operating perforating guns that are run on pipe, including tubing strings, drill pipe and coiled tubing. TCP guns are fired by dropping a drop bar or can be pressure activated once in position.

Regardless of the initiation method, all detonation of explosives and the retrieval of a perforating firing system (including perforating gun or down hole tool) from the well bore must be conducted by a blaster with a valid Alberta blaster’s permit.

For any TCP operation, the following procedures are expected to be observed by the employer.

(1) A licensed blaster, employed by the company providing the TCP service, must arm the TCP system.
(2) The dropping of a TCP Drop Bar must be performed by a licensed blaster employed by the company providing the TCP service.
(3) In the event of a suspected misfire or the lack of a positive indication of a mechanically activated TCP firing system, every effort must be made to retrieve the Drop Bar. A licensed blaster must be on site before and while the gun is removed from the well bore.
(4) In the event the Drop Bar cannot be successfully retrieved, then procedures developed by the manufacturer of the TCP system, the company providing the TCP services and the operator of the well site must be followed before removing the tubing from the well bore.

Subsection 516(6)

During oil well perforation activities, perforating guns failing to detonate are removed from the drill hole, disassembled and the problem(s) corrected. During this time it may be impractical for a perforating gun to be connected to the blasting machine. Leads wires must therefore be twisted together if the firing line is at the surface.

Subsection 516(7)

A blaster must ensure that if an armed device is at the surface, all electronic and power devices within 20 metres of the armed device must be turned off.