Sensor-Augmented Lightning Mitigation; Implications for Risk at Hydraulic Fracturing Storage Facilities

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Hydraulic Fracturing (hydro fracking) has revolutionized oil and gas production in the United States. Controversy has been widespread and plenty of uncertainty remains commonplace in the public. The topic of hazardous chemicals and pollution associated with hydro fracking will be presented in some detail. However, the key focus will be on sensors and lightning mitigation at produced hydrocarbon storage batteries. Unmitigated fires and explosions will be shown to cause $10 million per direct strike in some lightning risk zones. Lightning has stood as an unresolved threat to hydrocarbon storage facilities for over 100 years. Literature research has shown that 33% of all modern hydrocarbon tank accidents are due to lightning (Chang and Lin, 2006); in addition, cloud-ground lightning strikes are predicted to increase by 50% this century (Romps et al., 2014). An overlay of the current National Lightning Detection Network (NLDN) risk map and the Energy Information Administration (EIA) shale play map clearly show the lightning threat only increasing with the migration of future shale activities. While planning may change, shale deposits and regional lightning threats are not changing geographically; this research quantifies the threat and outlines clear lightning mitigation strategies. Furthermore, real-time detection and the associated methodology of lightning mitigation have implications for industries far beyond hydro fracking. By leveraging industrial standards for Fire and Gas Systems (FGS) such as IEC 61511, the proposed lightning effects mitigation system has a pathway toward verification and eventual validation at a broad array of industrial sites. Some extended applications included Navy fuel storage depots and Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) facilities.