The 4th AOMG Technical Workshop, Hilton Bandung, Indonesia

Category: News Published: Monday, 12 May 2014

Date: May 8 – 9, 2014


The workshop has been highly successful in terms of the content viz methanol handling & safety, industrial dust explosion risk management and layers of protection analysis (LOPA)  which were requested for in 2013. Although they are in new areas, they are highly relevant and can be applied right away to the workplace. The presentations were of a high technical standard.

Day 1

The workshop was opened by the AOMG Chairman, Mr Togar Sitanggang.

In his introduction Qua used the presentation he made to the IChemE 1st Regional Sustainability Seminar in Kuantan on 28/10/13 where he traced the beginnings of AOMG from 30 years ago, its Technical Committee and the work that it has done. He also explained the oleochemical business to the guest speakers. On continuity he noted very young or very old participants and posed the question if it is a problem in the near future for the industry.

Participants, guest speakers and Mr Togar Sitanggang posed for the obligatory group photo.

A. Methanol Handling & Safety

Speaker : En Muhiddin Sohod is the Technical Professional, Operations Methanol at Petronas Chemical Methanol Labuan Sdn Bhd. He has 15 years working experience.

He covered in detail a number of relevant topics including its manufacturing, toxicity, properties, best practices, lessons learnt from incidents and sources of information.

The key takeaways for participants were:

  1. Methanol is in a new area outside our traditional expertise
  2. Sohod provided more information than available from SDS. If methanol comes into bodily contact whether through the skin, ingestion or inhalation there are no symptoms for 10 – 48 hours. Treatment is vital at this stage to avoid blindness and possibly death. Crudely it can be treated with vodka (ethanol) but Fomepizole (very expensive) is 8,000 times more effective
  3. Therefore the appropriate PPE must be worn including for maintenance
  4. Methanol-water mixtures containing as little as 21% methanol by volume are flammable liquids
  5. Sohod provided case studies including that from a ship fire caused by lightning. The design of the lightning arrestor is critical
  6. For venting vessels containing methanol the vent must have a flame arrestor or N2 purging to prevent any fire from entering the vessel which will result in an explosion
  7. Very comprehensive data on methanol is available FOC from:


B. Industrial Dust Explosion Risk Management

Speaker : Mr Felipe Ong is the Asia Pacific Product Manager, BS&B Safety Systems (AP) Pte Ltd, Singapore. Mr Ong has 25 years working experience, 11 of which is in the area of dust explosion management.

In his session Ong showed that dust is combustible and dust explosions and fatalities resulting are more widespread than commonly thought. In 2010 US OSHA has established mandatory safety standards in this respect. Safety approaches include housekeeping, grounding, venting, equipment isolation, explosion suppression and spark detection.

The key takeaways for participants were:

  1. Dust explosion again is a new area for our members
  2. There is now awareness about how easy it is to have conditions for a dust explosion. At least two members have personally experienced this in their plants
  3. There were many recent examples and case studies including videos
  4. In the oleochemical industry spray cooling, flaking and dust collectors are potential hazards for dust explosion
  5. On 14/4/14 there was a dust explosion at the Shuang Ma stearic acid factory in China at its spray cooling tower. There were 5 fatalities
  6. On 25/3/13 at Peter Greven in Penang there was a dust explosion involving metal stearates resulting in 4 fatalities
  7. On 24/9/09 in Singapore at a coffee creamer making plant there was a dust explosion at its spray dryer. Fortunately there were no fatalities
  8. There are a number of factors that can trigger a dust explosion as dust is highly inflammable
  9. The concept of a deflagration index eg Kst for different substances. Lab equipment is available to determine this
  10. In Malaysia DOE requires a competent person to handle a dust collector
  11. The available solutions are good housekeeping, explosion suppression and safe venting


Dinner for participants and speakers was at Fresco Restaurant. The dinner was hosted by APOLIN. Our thanks to APOLIN.

Day 2

C. Layers of Protection Analysis (LOPA)

Speaker : Ir Qua Kiat Seng, Industry Partnership Liaison, IChemE. He has 32 years experience in the palm oil industry from refinery to oleochemicals & consumer products. Currently he is interested in capability development and process safety.

He introduced LOPA at a non-specialist level so that participants received an overview. Where a HAZOP study warrants it, a LOPA is conducted leading to safety integrity level (SIL) verification of safety instrumented systems.  He then took LOPA to the next level.

The key takeaways for participants were:

  1. LOPA is also a new area for participants
  2. It is for difficult cases after an initial HAZOP study
  3. The concept and methodology was explained
  4. When engaging LOPA consultants care need to be exercised and the company should be closely involved with their work


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