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ELECTRICAL

ENGINEERING DESIGN GUIDE


FOR
EARTHING SYSTEMS DESIGN
(INTERNATIONAL PROJECTS)

This document and the design it covers are the property of. They are merely loaned on
the borrower's express agreement that they will not be reproduced, copied, loaned,
exhibited, or used except in the limited way and private use permitted and by any
written consent given by the lender to the borrower.

0CT 93

REV.

DATE

Engineering Design Guide

ISSUED AS A CORPORATE STANDARD


REASON FOR REVISION
ELECTRICAL
ENGINEERING DESIGN GUIDE
FOR
EARTHING SYSTEMS DESIGN
(INTERNATIONAL PROJECTS)

CTW
MEH
BY
CHECK
DESIGN GUIDE
3DG E40E 001
Page 1 of 27

RHB
APPR
REV
0

Rev. 0 Page 1 of 27

CONTENTS
1.0
2.0
3.0
4.0

5.0

6.0

PURPOSE................................................................................................................3
SCOPE.....................................................................................................................3
CODES, STANDARDS AND REGULATIONS.....................................................3
GENERAL...............................................................................................................4
4.1
General Criteria............................................................................................4
4.2
Conductor Size.............................................................................................5
4.3
Power System Requirements........................................................................7
4.4
Neutral Earthing Requirements....................................................................9
4.5
Instrumentation Earthing Requirements.....................................................11
4.6
Lightning Protection Requirements............................................................13
4.7
Prevention of Static Charges in Hazardous Areas......................................13
ONSHORE INSTALLATIONS.............................................................................14
5.1
Overall Philosophy.....................................................................................14
5.2
Application of Water/Sea Electrodes..........................................................16
5.3
Application of Earth Rod Electrodes.........................................................16
5.4
Conductor Layout......................................................................................17
5.5
Connection of Plant....................................................................................18
5.6
Calculation of Resistance to True Earth.....................................................21
5.7
Modifications Within or Extensions to Existing Installations.....................23
OFFSHORE INSTALLATIONS............................................................................24
6.1
Resistance to True Earth............................................................................24
6.2
Application of Jackets as Electrodes..........................................................24
6.3
Interconnection of Platforms......................................................................24
6.4
Connection of Plant....................................................................................25
TABLES

TABLE 1

COMPARISON OF EARTHING METHOD CHARACTERISTICS

TABLE 2

COEFFICIENTS FOR STRIP OR ROUND CONDUCTOR ELECTRODES


FIGURES

FIG. 1

PRINCIPLE OF INSTRUMENTATION EARTH SYSTEM WHERE ZENER


BARRIERS ARE EMPLOYED

FIG. 2

PRINCIPLE OF INSTRUMENTATION EARTH SYSTEM WHERE ZENER


BARRIERS ARE NOT EMPLOYED

Engineering Design Guide

Rev. 0 Page 2 of 27

1.0 PURPOSE
This design guide provides the principles which should be adopted for the design of onshore and
offshore earthing installations.
2.0 SCOPE
The document covers the design of earthing systems, conductor arrangements, conductor sizing,
and power system neutral earthing for new installations and modifications and extensions to
existing installations.
Typical installations would comprise petrochemical/gas processing complexes with distribution
and generation voltages up to 33kV. Major power stations and substations should be considered
separately.
3.0 CODES, STANDARDS AND REGULATIONS
IEC 79

Electrical apparatus for explosive gas atmospheres

IEC 364

Electrical installations of buildings.

IEC 909

Short circuit current calculations in three phase AC systems.

IEC 1024

Protection of structures against lightning.

Recommendations for the electrical and electronic equipment of Mobile and fixed offshore
installations. I.E.E 1983.
Bechtel Design Guides and Standards
3DG E46E 001

Engineering design guide for lightning protection.

EG E41 901

Guide design drawing for preparation of earthing layout drawings.

STD-P2-100 series Electrical installation standards for Onshore power and earthing.
STD-P2-200 series Electrical installation standards for Offshore power and earthing.

Engineering Design Guide

Rev. 0 Page 3 of 27

4.0 GENERAL
4.1

General Criteria

4.1.1 Conductor sizes, spacings, resistance to earth, etc should be calculated using formula in
the applicable standards and codes of practice to satisfy the requirements therein.
4.1.2 Installation details should be specified in accordance with the appropriate drawing
standards and guides.
4.1.3 The required resistance to true earth of the overall complex should be the minimum of
that required by:
a)

Electrical Power System

b)

Instrumentation and/or DCS System

4.1.4 In addition, lightning protection systems, where fitted, impose a third criteria onshore, in
that the group of earth rods around the structure/building to be protected must achieve a
separate minimum resistance to true earth.
4.1.5 The resistance of each of the earthing systems, on its own, to the mass of earth is
normally specified as not to exceed the following:
a)

General electrical earthing

1 ohm

b)

Static earthing

1 Megohm (10 ohms where practical)

c)

Lightning protection earthing

10 ohms

d)

Instrument "clean" earth

1 ohm

e)

Instrument "signal" earth

1 ohm

f)

Intrinsically safe earth

1 ohm

Engineering Design Guide

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4.2

Conductor Size

4.2.1 General
The required conductor size in any particular part of the installation should be determined from
the following requirements:
a)

Minimum size for adequate mechanical strength.

b)

Minimum size to allow for adequate life expectancy relative to corrosive ground
conditions.

c)

Minimum size for electrical thermal rating.

4.2.2 Mechanical Strength


The minimum cross section of buried earth conductor used as an earth electrode should be
50mm.
The minimum cross-sectional area of direct buried copper earthing conductors in other
applications should be:
a)

Insulated/sheathed - 16mm

b)

Bare

- 25mm

Above grade, 6mm minimum size earthing conductors may be used provided that their location
ensures that there is no risk of mechanical damage. Smaller sizes may be used within junction
boxes etc.
4.2.3 Life Expectancy
Insulated cable or tape must be used if the ground is of a nature likely to corrode bare copper.
In the case of existing plants, cross section should not be less than that in similar existing
installations.
4.2.4 Thermal Rating
The minimum earth conductor size should be determined to withstand the heating effect of the
maximum earth fault current that may flow in the particular conductor. This may vary for
different conductors or different areas of a large complex.

Engineering Design Guide

Rev. 0 Page 5 of 27

The following aspects should be considered when determining the required withstand time and
current:
a)

Maximum I2t energy that may flow due to a system earth fault where the fault current is
returning to a remote off site neutral point via true earth. Energy will be limited by
protection operation and circuit breaker clearance times.

b)

Maximum I2t energy that may flow between two points on the site due to an on site plant
earth fault. Energy will be limited by the circuit protection device, either let through of
the largest fuse, or protection operation and circuit breaker clearance times.

c)

Minimum copper conductor size may be calculated from the following formula:A

51200

I 2t

1 0.00756 -1

where A = Earth conductor cross sectional area in mm


I=

Average fault current in Amps RMS

t=

Fault current duration in seconds

Conductor temperature rise C

Maximum allowable conductor temperatures should be taken as:Continuous


Load

Short Circuit/Earth
Fault Conditions

PVC insulated conductor

70C

160C

XLPE insulated conductor

90C

250C

Bare conductor

70C

200C

Note i

Engineering Design Guide

The limitation on bare copper conductors is made because of the


possibility that they may be run in contact with the sheaths of other
cables, however bare copper conductors may be allowed to rise to 500C
in areas subject to heavy fault conditions provided that the conductors are
run where the excessive temperature cannot harm their surroundings or
supports.

Rev. 0 Page 6 of 27

Note ii

In hazardous areas the temperature classification of the gas hazard should


be considered as a limiting factor.

The following sizes of soft drawn stranded copper earthing conductors, will normally be used for
the plant earthing system unless precluded by the above considerations:
a)

70mm2 bare for principal conductors run wholly underground including main rings and
connections to earth electrodes.

b)

70mm2 green/yellow PVC sheathed for principal above grade conductors including
connections to generators, transformers, switchgear and motors rated above 90 kW.

c)

35mm2 bare for secondary conductors run wholly underground

d)

35mm green/yellow PVC sheathed for above grade motors up to 90kW, above grade
and indoor equipment, distribution boards, cable trays and racks, loading/unloading
racks.

e)

70mm bare earth conductor run within the underground duct banks and road crossings
and installed in the top layer of the duct bank.

f)

25mm x 3.5mm flexible copper braid for gates and metallic doors etc.

All connections to the main earth ring should be by thermic welding and will be covered by a
minimum of 3 lap-wound layers of green/yellow plastic adhesive tape. Bolted connections will
not be permitted for connections to the main earth ring.
All connections to equipment and to the earth busbars will be bolted, using crimp type conductor
terminals.
The use of aluminium conductors should be avoided.
4.3

Power System Requirements

4.3.1 General
The final design should satisfy the applicable standards and codes of practice.
Criteria include:
a)

Allowable voltage rise of the complex above true earth during an earth fault.

Engineering Design Guide

Rev. 0 Page 7 of 27

b)

Allowable touch potential

c)

Allowable step potential

d)

Provision of a return path to system neutral

Voltage rise is the product of the overall resistance to true earth and the maximum earth fault
current that may return to system neutral via true earth, (rather than via earth conductor or cable
armour).
Touch and step potentials are determined by the voltage rise above true earth and the distance
from bare buried earth conductors.
4.3.2 Vertical Electrodes
The fraction (E) of the potential arising on the electrode(s) which appears at a point P on the
ground surface is estimated approximately by the following equation:
E

Log e v ( v 2 1)
Log e [

Where v =

4L
]
d

volts

L
r

L =

Buried length of an electrode in metres.

r =

Radius of point P on the ground surface to the electrode in metres (r is greater than the
radius of an electrode).

d =

Diameter of the electrode in metres.

4.3.3 Horizontal Electrodes


The fraction (E) of the electrode potential, at a point P on a line perpendicular to the line of the
electrode is obtained from the following equation:
E

2 Log e v ( v 2 1 )
2

L
Log e [
]
hd

Engineering Design Guide

volts

Rev. 0 Page 8 of 27

Where v =

L
2 (h 2 r 2 )

h =

Depth of electrode from the ground surface in metres.

L =

Length of the electrode in metres.

r =

Distance along the ground surface from point P to a point vertically above the
electrode in metres.

d =

Diameter of each electrode in metres. (For a strip electrode d=2w/ where w =


width of the strip electrode in metres.)

The resistance of the return path must ensure current flow is sufficient for detection and
operation of the protection/fuses.
4.4

Neutral Earthing Requirements

4.4.1 Methodology
The method of neutral earthing, resistor rating and conductor size/type should be selected in
accordance with the guidelines herein.
Common options available for neutral earthing may be summarised as follows:
a)

SOLID EARTH - To be used on LV systems including standby and emergency generators.

b)

LOW RESISTANCE - To be used on HV systems (eg 3.3 kV and above) including


generator neutrals. Current normally limited to 300-500 Amp per neutral.

c)

HIGH RESISTANCE/IMPEDANCE - Normally used on large HV generator neutrals


where delta/star step up/down generator transformers are in use. Current typically limited
between 8-15 Amp per neutral to limit damage to generator windings.

d)

UNEARTHED - To be used where essential processes are involved such as drilling and
offshore thrusters, where an unplanned electrical trip must be avoided.

Note that care may be necessary where single phase loads are to be supplied from resistance
earthed systems as a neutral earth fault may remain undetected.

Engineering Design Guide

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4.4.2 Application
1.

LV SYSTEMS - All star points of generators and transformers should be solidly earthed
by connection to the earthing grid.
Generator neutrals should be connected to an earth rod/inspection pit or main earth
busbar. Transformer neutrals should be earthed either locally (preferred) or at the
associated switchboard if project/client requirements dictate.
Where a transformer neutral is earthed at the switchboard full allowance should be made
for an earth fault in the cable box, causing a circular return path via the switchboard.

2.

HV SYSTEMS - In general HV systems such as 3.3kV and 11kV site distribution should
be resistance earthed.
Resistors should be connected from all generator and transformer star points to the earth
grid system.
Resistors should be specified to limit earth fault current to 300-500 AMP (low resistance
earthing) and have a thermal rating of 10 seconds, or to Client requirements if different.
Where more than one generator and/or transformer may operate continuously in parallel
consideration should be given to a switched neutral arrangement.

4.4.3 Neutral Conductor Rating


1.

SOLID EARTH - Conductors between the star point and the earth grid should be rated
to carry the maximum earth fault current that can be developed at that point in the
network for a minimum time equal to the clearance time of the back-up protection
system.
The minimum size of conductor used in the earth grid at the point where the neutral is
connected should be 50% of the neutral conductor size. There should however, be a
fully rated route between the neutral and its associated switchboard.
Conductor may be bare, (permitting smaller cross section for thermal reasons), insulated
to a nominal value e.g. 600V or 1000V (e.g. due corrosive conditions, client preference,
safety etc), or conventional XLPE or PVC armoured cable where use is convenient.

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2.

RESISTANCE EARTH - Conductors between the neutral star point and resistance
should be fully insulated to system phase voltage level. Conductor should be sized to
match maximum earth fault current as if solidly earthed.
Conductor between the resistance and earth connection may be bare, or insulated to a
nominal 600V/1000V, or cable as for a solid earth connection. Conductor may be sized
based on the maximum earth fault current through the resistance for at least the duration
for which the resistor is rated, subject to a minimum size for mechanical strength.
The minimum required withstand time and current should be the maximum I 2t energy that
may return to the neutral under any fault condition.

4.4.4 Protection Considerations


In selecting the appropriate earthing method from the options above the following aspects
should be noted and reference made to the applicable protection design guide:
a)

SOLID EARTH - The prospective high fault currents necessitate fast fault clearance.

b)

LOW RESISTANCE EARTH - Where there are several neutral points in the system the
earth fault current developed may vary with the number of resistors in service. Further, the
minimum earth fault may be very low should a high impedance earth fault occur, such that
protection setting and current grading with down stream relays may prove difficult to
achieve correctly for all conditions. Unbalanced loads and circulating currents may also
impose minimum settings.

c)

HIGH RESISTANCE EARTH - It is advisable to check that system capacitance will not
result in high leakage currents. These may mask an earth fault and also cause overheating
of the earth circuit and/or incorrect trip.

d)

UNEARTHED - The protection system must be configured to detect an earth fault so that
a planned shutdown can be made as soon as possible.

Engineering Design Guide

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4.5

Instrumentation Earthing Requirements

4.5.1 General
The instrumentation systems covered in this section may include one or more of each of the
following cubicles:a)

Auxiliary fields interface cubicles; (to receive incoming cables from field plant and
provide Zener or Galvanic isolation where appropriate).

b)

Signal conditioning cubicles.

c)

ESD cubicles.

d)

DCS cubicles.

For instrumentation purposes the resistance of the power system earth network to true earth
should not exceed one ohm.
'Loops' should be avoided in instrument earthing systems.
The principles of earthing instrumentation systems with and without zener barrier diodes are
illustrated in figures Nos 1 & 2.
4.5.2 Control Buildings with DCS Equipment
1.

A "power system" (Plant) earth bar should be provided in each control room/building
containing DCS systems/instrumentation cubicles.
The exterior metalwork of all instrumentation cubicles and all other cubicles within the
room/building should be connected to the Plant earth bars(s).
The Plant earth bar(s) should be connected into the main power system plant earthing
conductor ring.

Engineering Design Guide

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2.

A separate insulated "Instrument earth" bar should also be provided in each control
room/building. The Instrument earth bar should be connected radially by insulated
conductor to the Instrument earth bars in all instrumentation cubicles and to the Plant
earth bar.
Where there is only one Instrumentation cubicle the need for an external marshalling bar
is eliminated and the cubicle Instrument earth is to be directly connected to the Plant
earth bar by insulated earth conductor.

3.

Where zener barriers are being used in hazardous areas an additional "intrinsically safe
(IS)" insulated earth bar should be provided. This should be connected radially by
insulated earth conductor to the IS earth busbars in all the auxiliary field interface
cubicles and to the Instrument earth bar.
The Instrument earth bar should not be connected to the local power system (Plant) earth
bar. Duplicate insulated paralleled connections should be taken from the Instrument
earth bar direct to the power system earth bar at which the star point of the power
transformer providing instrumentation power is connected. (Often in a separate
substation building).

4.

An 'IS'earth bar is not required where galvanic isolation is used in place of zener barriers.

4.5.3 Field Connections to Instruments


In all cases the cable screen is isolated from earth at the field instrument. (Earthed only at the
Instrument earth bar in the control room)
Where the field instrument housing is GRP, or continuity from the housing to power system
earth cannot be guaranteed, separate earthing conductors should be provided from each gland to
the nearest point on the power system earth network.
4.6

Lightning Protection Requirements

The need or otherwise for lightning protection should be determined and the system installed in
accordance with Bechtel Engineering Design Guide 3DG E46E 001 the applicable standards
and client practice.
The tallest structure in every plant will be effectively earthed, with its own earth electrode
system.
Electrically continuous metallic structures should be connected to the power system earth
network at the base. The applicable standards may also require electrodes in the vicinity of the
base to give a direct path to earth. Sections of the structure may be bonded at joints, if required,
to ensure a low resistance path to earth.
Engineering Design Guide

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For buildings and structures which are not electrically continuous, where protection is required,
separate external vertical lightning protection down leads must be provided following the most
direct route to earth. The down leads should end in disconnectable earth electrode pits which
should also be interconnected to the power system earth network. Equipment earthing
conductors should not be connected to lightning protection down leads.
Earth electrodes and underground earth rings for general earthing system, static, and lightning
protection should be connected together.
4.7

Prevention of Static Charges in Hazardous Areas

Prevention of static charge build-up in hazardous areas will be achieved by ensuring that a
conducting path to earth is provided for the metal work of rotating or vibrating machinery and
all equipment in which there may be movement of liquids, gases or solids. eg:a)

Metal smoke stacks (bond sections if not electrically continuous).

b)

Elevated ventilation and smoke ducts, gas turbine inlets and exhaust stacks.

c)

Structural steel columns, towers, heaters, piperacks and air-fan structures.

d)

Tanks and vessels containing flammable substances (including roofs of floating roof
tanks).

e)

Compressors, turbines, conveyers, vibrating screens, filters and pump housings.

f)

All above ground pipelines.

g)

Railway lines in loading areas and sidings.

NOTE: On most main railway lines, the running rails are connected to the signalling system and
their earthing is therefore not permitted. An insulated 'train length' of track is usually necessary
between main rail lines and petroleum facility sidings in order to overcome this problem.
In most instances earthing of the above items is already provided for considerations other than
static charge limitation.
Wherever hazardous liquids, gases or dusts are transferred to and from either metallic or nonmetallic mobile vessels, earthing of the mobile vessel should be achieved by making a connection
via an Ex'd' isolator.
5.0 ONSHORE INSTALLATIONS

Engineering Design Guide

Rev. 0 Page 14 of 27

5.1

Overall Philosophy

5.1.1 Bare Buried Conductor


Where soil conditions permit use of bare buried earth conductor resistance of the complex to
true earth is inversely proportional to the surface area encompassed by the conductor.
The resistance established by the above surface area should be lowered if necessary.
a)

By use of a sea or water electrode where the complex is adjacent to the coast or a
river/lake whose minimum level can be guaranteed.

b)

By use of earth rods (electrodes) where it is known that layers of lower resistivity ground
exist beneath the surface, or the minimum water table level can be reached.

c)

By interconnection to adjacent complexes where possible.

d)

By increasing the area encompassed by the conductor.

e)

By the utilisation of soil-testing boreholes to establish an earthwell system.

f)

By the use of foundation or pile reinforcing bars or rods as earth electrodes.

g)

By the use of soil treatment or replacement to improve earth resistance. This may be used
in special or difficult locations (a typical method would be the use of bentonite).

h)

By driving rods at an angle of approximately 30 to the horizontal.

5.1.2 Insulated Buried Conductor


Where corrosive soil conditions necessitate use of insulated earth conductor the resistance to
true earth is then dependant on the number and spacing of earth rods together with water
electrodes and interconnections to adjacent complexes as applicable.
The resistance to be expected from a uniform array of rods throughout the complex can be
calculated from formulae within the standards referenced in section 3.
5.1.3 Power Supply System Faults
Where electrical power is to be imported into the complex by cable or overhead line from a
remote point, a fault on the cable/line can cause a proportion of the earth fault current to return
to source via the earth network and true earth. In such cases the whole complex acts as a single
electrode.

Engineering Design Guide

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The current flowing to true earth from the complex will cause the whole complex to rise above
earth. The amount of rise being the (fault current) x (resistance of the complex to true earth).
Whilst this voltage rise is occurring, touch and step potentials will be generated within the
complex. These must be controlled by specifying a maximum resistance of the complex to earth
and a grid of buried bare earth conductors and/or rods spaced to limit the potentials to that
allowed by the applicable standards.
To satisfy referenced standards the voltage rise of the complex should not exceed 430V; or 650V
if fault clearance can be guaranteed less than 0.2 seconds.
5.1.4 On Site Faults
Earth faults occurring within the complex will return to the relevant system neutral point(s) by a
combination of:
a)

Cable armour

b)

Earth conductor

c)

Earth

The distribution of fault current being inversely proportional to resistance of the return path.
The presence of low resistance cable armour and earth conductors normally results in only a
small proportion of current, if any, returning via earth. Such currents normally return to the
nearest earth conductor and hence to neutral so that voltage rise, with associated step and touch
potentials are minimal and local.

Engineering Design Guide

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5.2

Application of Water/Sea Electrodes

Where the opportunity exists, eg rivers or coastal jetty, a water/sea electrode may be specified,
connected to the grid. This will be of particular benefit where earth resistance is high.
Where jetty legs are steel encased these may be used directly without a separate electrode. In
other cases a copper plate should be specified to the standard detail.
In all cases it is essential to ensure the electrodes are below the minimum water level table
throughout the year.
Connections to water/sea electrodes should be fully rated for maximum current likely to return
to true earth, for clearance time of the back-up protection. (ie. the I 2t let through energy).
5.3

Application of Earth Rod Electrodes

Earth rod electrodes should be specified to Bechtel standard earth electrode drawing STD-P2112 and installed:a)

Where required to comply with lightning protection requirements for buildings and
structures.

b)

Where ground surface resistivity is high (for example sand) and it is known that layers of
lower earth resistivity lie beneath the surface within reach of the rods. (For example, water
table). Rods used in water tables should be installed to a depth below the minimum water
table level which may be seasonal or tidal.

c)

Where it is necessary to provide increased security against open circuits in earthing


conductor connections.

d)

Where the ground is highly corrosive such that the normal bare buried copper conductor
must be protected by insulation. In such cases a ring of electrodes should be provided
around the perimeter of site, together with a uniform set within to control touch and step
potentials.

e)

For each generator or transformer neutral a cluster of at least three rods should be
specified, connected to both the main earthing conductor system and the generator neutral.

Earth electrodes for plant areas will generally be steel-cored 'copperbond' rods 15mm diameter in
1200 mm sections in accordance with Design Standards. Earth electrodes may be galvanised
steel or stainless steel as required to suit soil requirements and galvanic action.

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Where more than one electrode system is used, each electrode of one system will not be less than
two metres or a minimum of one rod length apart from any other electrode of another system.
Electrodes will, where practicable, penetrate below moisture level; but bottom of electrode will
not be less than 250mm below grade.
Each rod type earth electrode may have a maximum of 3 sheathed, or bare stranded copper
conductors connected to it.
5.4

Conductor Layout

A typical complex comprises one or more substations, with associated generator and transformer
neutrals, occupying a small proportion of the overall surface area of the complex.
In underground cable systems, the need to earth remote motors and electrical plant throughout
the complex normally results in a buried earth conductor network across the site, usually
installed in the cable trenches.
Bare buried Earth conductor routes should be arranged to encompass the largest possible surface
area without undue cost. The ideal maximum would be a ring around the complex perimeter
fence with cross site interconnections arranged to approximate to a uniform grid.
More typically, one or more interconnected earth rings will be provided for the process and
utilities plant areas. The tankage area may be covered by a ring where economical to do so or
otherwise by a radial system of spurs. The rings will consist of stranded bare copper conductor
or insulated/sheathed if required by soil conditions or project requirements, run in cable trenches
or direct buried at a depth of 500mm minimum.
If the earthing ring comprises insulated conductor, earth electrodes as required should be placed
along main earth rings at intervals calculated to suit soil resistivity.
In addition, bare direct buried perimeter rings should be established around each substation and
generator building. Perimeter rings should be rated to carry a minimum of half the maximum
earth fault current, on the basis that the current will be flowing in two directions from the point
that it enters the ring.
Where insulated conductor is used, due to corrosive conditions, conductor layout should be
arranged to interconnect the earth rods and plant with a minimum of two connections to each
rod.

Engineering Design Guide

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Where lightning protection of buildings or structures is necessary this should take the form of
external down leads connected to disconnectable earth rods located around the building and
interconnected to a direct buried perimeter ring around the building. This ring may be the power
system ring above if the building is a substation or generator house. The number of rods and
conductor size should comply with applicable codes. The ring should, in any case, be connected
to the main earth conductor network. Conductors should be stranded copper either bare or
insulated as required.
5.5

Connection of Plant

5.5.1 Transformer and Generator Neutral Connections


The main plant earth electrode system should generally be located close to the substation this
will generally consist of two groups of at least three electrodes. (Number of electrodes within
the groups are subject to earth resistivity and should be confirmed by calculation). Spacing
between rods should not be less than 2 metres and preferably a distance equal to the driven
depth.
Each substation should have a copper earth busbar system (refer standard drawing STD-P2-108)
within the building:a)

Symmetrical S.C. up to 44KA -

50mm x 6mm

b)

Symmetrical S.C. 44 - 60KA -

75mm x 6mm

Substation busbars should be bonded together using single or multiple green/yellow insulated
copper conductors.
The earth electrodes should be interconnected with the main substation earth busbars by a
minimum of two conductors. The connection between earth busbars and the earth electrode
system should be at least the same size as the largest connected earth conductor on the busbar.
Transformer and generator neutrals should be earthed to the substation busbars. Neutral
connections should be rated to carry the maximum earth fault current possible in the particular
voltage system for a duration not less than the clearance time of the backup protection.
At least two connections should be made from the substation earth system to the plant earth
ring.

Engineering Design Guide

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5.5.2 Generator Frame and Transformer Tank Earths


Two connections should be specified per generator frame or transformer tank. These should
each be rated to carry the maximum fault current that may develop. For example, a phase to
earth fault in the transformer LV cable box with neutral earthed at a remote switch board.
For a typical substation earthing arrangement refer STD-P2-107.
5.5.3 Switchboards
Two connections are required one from each end of the switchboard, terminated on a common
earthing busbar. These should be rated to carry the maximum earth fault current.
5.5.4 Other Electrical/Substation Equipment
All metallic panels and cubicles in the substation or elsewhere should be connected to the earth
system by at least one conductor.
All equipment, frames, building steel and floor gland plates are to be bonded to the substation
earth ring using stranded copper conductors with green/yellow insulation.
All sections of transformer and or generator compound fences are to be bonded to the area earth
ring using insulated conductors (refer STD-P2-109). All transformer and or generator
compound gates are to be bonded to the fence posts using flexible copper braid.
Coated metallic cable trays and racks will be made electrically continuous by the use of bonding
across fishplates and at expansion joints by the use of flexible jumpers and connected to the earth
ring near ends of run, or at not more than 30 metre intervals. Bare metal trays and racks do not
require additional bonding across fish plates (refer STD-P2-105).
Armoured cables must have an armour clamp to provide connection between armour and
equipment framework where no cable gland is used.
Single core trefoil cables forming a three phase circuit should have their armours bonded and
earthed at the sending end only.
Earth continuity in the electrical system generally will be ensured by the following:
a)

A separate earthing conductor.

b)

Screwed metal conduit.

c)

Metal sheath of M.I.C.C. cable.

Engineering Design Guide

Rev. 0 Page 20 of 27

d)
e)
f)

Metallic wire, braid or tape armouring of cables forming part of a permanent installation.
Separate earth conductor incorporated in a braided flexible cable.
Separate earth wire for flexible conduit.

5.5.5 Process Plant


Earth busbars of hard drawn copper, as shown on STD-P2-108, will be located to best
advantage for earthing groups of equipment, connected into plant earth ring, and an insulated
earthing conductor taken direct to a local earth electrode by the shortest possible route.
All process equipment, pipe racks and other metal structures within the complex should be
connected to the earth system.
Earthing bosses or lugs will be provided as follows:a)

On all tanks and vessels by vendor.

b)

On steel piperacks, ladders and stairways by field welding. A check is to be made that all
lugs and bosses should project sufficiently beyond any insulation or fire proofing.

Pipes should be bonded and connected to earth where they enter the complex and where they
enter a process or hazardous area (refer STD-P2-110).
When it is necessary to connect cathodically protected equipment to the main earthing system,
e.g. because an electrical power user is mounted upon a cathodically protected tank, care has to
be taken not to defeat the effects of Cathodic Protection. Protective earthing of cathodically
protected equipment should include a 0.5 OHM polarisation cell to avoid loss of cathodic
protection current.
Earthing conductors for electrical equipment will be connected to earth system by earthing spur
conductors:a)

Thermic welded to underground earth ring for grade located equipment.

b)

Bolted to earth busbars for isolated overhead located equipment.

c)

Thermic welded to an earth ring connected from the busbars and extended to run overhead
for groups of equipment located above grade.

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Rev. 0 Page 21 of 27

Skid (or module) mounted equipment, especially if prewired by a vendor, should be bonded to
earth via test bars located on two opposite corners of the skid by the vendor and having
provision for bolted connections leading to the plant earth ring.
Electrically driven pumps and compressors, not mounted on a common bedplate with motor, will
require separate earth connections.
Power consuming equipment (local control panels, marshalling boxes, control stations,
distribution boards, switchracks, street lighting columns, floodlight towers and convenience
outlets etc.) should be directly connected to the plant earthing system.
Tanks with flammable contents should have the following number of connections to the main
earth grid:
a)

Up to 30m diameter

2 connections

b)

Over 30m diameter

3 connections

Connections should be spaced symmetrically around the tank. Where tanks are isolated or
remote from a main earth grid, earth electrodes should be provided at each connection.
For a group of small tanks (up to 15m diameter) the electrode system will be common to the
group, provided that each tank has two independent paths to earth.
Metal objects, pipes, rails and other earthing systems within 20m radius of tanks are to be
bonded into the tank earthing system and or to each other.
5.5.6 Motors
All motors within the complex should be connected to the earthing ring system by a dedicated
earthing conductor (refer STD-P2-116 to 121). The cable armour (or conduit) forms a
supplementary earth connection.
5.5.7 Perimeter Gates and Fences
Plant perimeter fences in proximity to the earth system should be connected to it at regular
intervals (refer STD-P2-109). Fencing remote from the earthing network should have dedicated
earthing electrodes spaced at regular intervals. Gates should be bonded to the fence or
separately earthed.

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Rev. 0 Page 22 of 27

5.6

Calculation of Resistance to True Earth

5.6.1 General
Resistance may be calculated with reasonable accuracy from a knowledge of soil resistivity;
whether rods can be driven below a water table level and whether water/sea electrodes can be
installed.
Calculations should be based on the requirements of the referenced standards and should confirm
that the maximum overall resistance to true earth is in accordance with paragraph 4.1 above.
The formulae are based on electrostatic theory and as a consequence connection of more than
one electrode in parallel will produce a reduction which is less than if two resistors were directly
paralleled, due to mutual effects. Constants are quoted to take account of these factors.
In particular, rods are not beneficially spaced closer together than a distance equal to the
effective part of their driven depth. (If rods are driven deeply in order to reach conductive
ground, e.g. the water table, the effective part is that which is within the conductive ground).
Parallel bare buried (horizontal) conductors should not generally be closer together than a
distance equal to 15% of their length in a given direction unless reasons other than lowering
resistivity prevail.

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Rev. 0 Page 23 of 27

5.6.2 Resistances of common types of earth electrode


1.

Plates
The approximate resistance to earth of a plate is:R

2A

rs
4

where

ohms

rs

Resistivity of soil in m.

Area of one face of the plate in m.

The total resistance to earth of parallel plates is inversely proportional to the number
employed provided that each plate is installed outside the resistance area of any other.
This normally requires a separation of about 10 metres, but for sizes of plate generally
employed a separation of 2 metres is sufficient to ensure that the total resistance will not
exceed the value obtained from the above equation by more than 20%.
2.

Rods or pipes
The approximate resistance to earth of a rod or pipe is:-

rs
8L
1 ohms
Log e
2L
d

where rs

= Resistivity of soil in m.

= Diameter in metres.

= Length of electrode in metres.

A number of rods or pipes may be connected in parallel and the resistance is then
practically proportional to the reciprocal of the number employed so long as each is
situated outside the resistance area of any other. In practice this is often assumed to be
satisfied by a mutual separation equal to the driven depth.

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Rev. 0 Page 24 of 27

3.

Horizontal Strip or Round Conductor Electrodes


The approximate resistance to earth of horizontal strip or round conductor is:
2 L2
r
R s Log e
Q ohms
PL

wh
where rs

Resistivity of soil in m.

Length of the strip or conductor in metres.

Depth of the electrode in metres.

Width of strip or diameter of conductor in metres.

P and Q
5.7

are coefficients obtained from table 2.

Modifications Within or Extensions to Existing Installations

5.7.1 Philosophy
Modifications within existing complexes will have negligible effect on the resistance to true earth
unless water/sea electrodes are being added, rods are driven deeper than the existing installation,
or rods are being installed for the first time.
If it is necessary to lower the resistance of an existing complex the following methods should be
considered and the most economically effective method applied:a)

Install a water or sea electrode, if not already fitted and facility is on site or nearby.

b)

Where lower earth resistivity exists below grade install a ring of earth rods around the
perimeter of the plant or site.

c)

Where rods are already installed consider extra rods driven to greater depth.

d)

Install a perimeter ring of direct buried bare earthing conductor around the plant or site,
where not already provided.

e)

Interconnect the complex with adjacent complexes if such exist.

Engineering Design Guide

Rev. 0 Page 25 of 27

5.7.2 Conductor Layout


Layout of earth conductor should be arranged to match the existing philosophy on the remainder
of the complex.
Conductor and rod spacings should not exceed average spacings in the existing complex and
should follow existing grid patterns so as to provide a network in the new modified area at least
as dense as the existing areas. This will maintain existing design criteria with touch and step
potentials at their existing values.
Where the modifications include import of a new power source via cable or transmission line,
adequacy of the existing grid must be reviewed since fault current which may return to true earth
via the earthing conductor system may be increased, affecting earthing conductor cross section,
voltage rise and touch/step potentials.
Interconnections between the new/modified area and existing area should be sufficient to
continue the grid philosophy described above.
Construction Group should be instructed to ensure that existing earthing conductor ends used
for interconnection are in fact an integral part of the existing network and have not been
accidentally severed or corroded a few metres from the connection point.
6.0 OFFSHORE INSTALLATIONS
6.1

Resistance to True Earth

The resistance of an offshore complex to true earth is set by the number of jacket legs connected
in parallel.
6.2

Application of Jackets as Electrodes

The main earth connection should normally be formed by use of the metallic jacket legs. In such
cases separate electrodes are not usually required. Where piles are driven through the jacket
legs, the pile caps are bonded to the leg.
6.3

Interconnection of Platforms

Where there is more than one platform interconnected by bridges, a copper earth ring should be
installed around the complex to interconnect each platform and bridge. This is to ensure low
resistance interconnections and fault return paths.

Engineering Design Guide

Rev. 0 Page 26 of 27

6.4

Connection of Plant

All equipment installed offshore on both fixed and mobile structures will be connected to the
main metal structure using the size of earth conductor stated in Section 4.2.
Earth bars as detailed for onshore applications should be installed as required, the earth bar
support should be welded to the main structure or to permanently welded floor plates (refer to
STD-P2-208).
All earth conductors installed offshore should be green/yellow insulated/sheathed. Insulation
should be of the HOFR type.
6.4.1 Motors
All motors should be individually bonded to the platform steelwork in accordance with the
standard drawings STD-P2-216 to 219.
6.4.2 Substation Plant
Plant should be connected to a copper earthing bar within the room(s) similar to onshore
practice, and the bar bonded to platform steelwork (refer to STD-P2-207).
Where there are several platforms interconnected the bars should also be bonded to the earthing
ring between platforms.
6.4.3 Other Plant
All other plant, stairways, ladders, etc. which is not connected to the platform steelwork by
welding should have a separate bond to the platform (refer to STD-P2-203, 206, etc.).
Earth bosses on the equipment are the preferred method of connection, with a thermoweld to the
structure or deck (refer to STD-P2-202).
All metal doors should be bonded to the metal frame of the door, using flexible copper braid
(refer to STD-P2-209).

Engineering Design Guide

Rev. 0 Page 27 of 27

TABLE 1
COMPARISON OF EARTHING METHOD CHARACTERISTICS

SYSTEM CHARACTERISTIC
1. Immediate shutdown on
occurrence of 1st fault
2. Control of transient
overvoltage due to arcing
earth faults
3. Control of impressed steadystate overvoltages
4. Flash hazard to personnel
during earth fault (no
escalation of fault)
5. Arcing fault damage to
equipment during earth fault
6. Shock hazard, unfaulted
phases to earth, during earth
fault

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SOLID
Yes
Yes

TYPE OF EARTHING
LOW RESISTANCE
HIGH RESISTANCE
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes

UNEARTHED
No
No

Yes

Yes

Partial

No

Severe

Limited

Essentially Zero

Essentially Zero

Severe unless fault is


promptly removed

Limited unless fault


removal is prolonged

Usually minor unless


fault removal is so
prolonged as to cause
fault escalation

L-N

L-L

L-L

Usually minor but


transient over voltages
may cause fault escalation
or multiple insulation
failures
May be several times L-N
voltage

3DG E40E 001

Rev. 0 Table 1

TABLE 1 (Continued)
COMPARISON OF EARTHING METHOD CHARACTERISTICS

SYSTEM CHARACTERISTIC
7. Shock hazard, equipment
frame to earth during solid
internal L-E fault
8. Detection of arcing faults

SOLID
Moderate

9. Suitable for 4-W 3 service

Yes

L-L or L-E arcing


faults readily
detected with earth
fault relaying

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TYPE OF EARTHING
LOW RESISTANCE
HIGH RESISTANCE
Moderate
Minimum

UNEARTHED
Small

L-L or L-E arcing


Earth detectors and fault
faults readily detected
locating equipment
with earth fault relaying required for L-E arcing
faults. L-L faults readily
detected by phase O/C
devices unless fault
current is severly limited
No
No

Earth detectors and fault locating


equipment required for L-E arcing faults.
Transient overvoltage may meanwhile
cause additional insulation breakdowns. LL faults readily detected by phase O/C
devices unless fault current is severely
limited.
No

3DG E40E 001

Rev. 0 Table 1

Table 2
Coefficients for Strip or Round Conductor Electrodes
Coefficient
Electrode Arrangement

Single length

Strip
-1

Round
-1.3

0.5

0.9

1.8

2.2

3.6

-4.1

L
Two lengths at
90o

Three lengths at
120o
Four lengths at
900

L
L
L

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3DG E40E 001

Rev. 0 Table 2

Figure 1

Principal of Instrumentation Earthing System where Zener Barriers are


employed.

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P:\WP_CENT\DGS\CORPDGS\3DGE4001.DOC

3DG E40E 001

Rev. 0 Figure 1

Figure 2

Principal of Instrumentation Earthing System where Zener Barriers are Not


employed.

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P:\WP_CENT\DGS\CORPDGS\3DGE4001.DOC

3DG E40E 001

Rev. 0 Figure 2