Direct Lightning Strikes

Protecting Tank Batteries from Direct Lightning Strikes

Petro Guardian’s direct strike mitigation system protects flammable environments.

Direct lightning strikes are a clear and present danger to the oilfield industry. During lightning formation, a cloud sends a stepped leader towards the ground. However, before reaching ground, multiple upward streamers attempt to connect with and win attachment to the step leader, creating the main lightning strike.A streamer formation also provides ample heat to ignite flammable gasses. Petro Guardian’s direct strike mitigation system protects flammable environments from both streamers and direct lightning strikes.


Conventional technologies used for lightning protection are not necessarily the best systems to use in a flammable environment. For example, a typical franklin rod, while effective for presenting a single point for lightning to strike and conduct to ground, is not the right solution for tank batteries. Catenary wire lightning protection systems are not suitable either because they provide lightning attachments points within the flammable gas column. For tank batteries, simply grounding a lightning strike is not enough. Petro Guardian’s solution deploys streamer delaying air terminals with an ionizing head, instead of a single blunt point.


With over 1200 individual metallic tines splayed out like a brush, the streamer delaying terminal (STD) allows electrons to easily transfer via many tiny points. These SDTs (also called dissipators or dissipaters) bleed off energy by coronal discharge, which reduces the potential required for arc formation. By allowing the energy to dissipate from the highest and outermost points, upward streamer formation is delayed, which buys time for upward streamers to form elsewhere on unrestricted structures. The earliest and strongest streamer will typically win the lightning strike. Once lightning has chosen a path, the risk of creating a streamer for that lightning strike is gone. By avoiding streamer formation, Petro Guardian’s system minimizes the risk of ignition from streamers and direct lightning strikes.


Petro Guardian’s third party tested dissipators can handle a current 1.5 times greater than franklin rods before forming static arcs. Although there is no guarantee against lightning strikes, the dissipator system is the best technology available for protecting tanks and structures in a flammable environment.


Direct lightning protection is only one part of the solution to avoid lightning and static induced tank fires. Contact Petro Guardian for more information about the other four parts to protect production and SWD tank batteries: indirect strike protection, static protection, grounding and bonding, and load out protection.

Lightning Protection for Oilfield Assets

  • Risk assessment service
  • API RP2003 and NFPA 780 compliance study
  • Design and supply of lightning protection for drilling rigs
  • Design and supply of lightning protection for single and multiple well pads
  • Design and supply of lightning protection for central processing facilities (CPF)
  • Design and supply of lightning protection for saltwater disposal sites (SWD)
  • Design and supply of lightning protection for compressor stations
  • Design and supply of lightning protection for storage tank farms
  • Design and supply of lightning protection for transfer facilities
  • Design and supply of lightning protection for SCADA/communication towers