PPG PITT-CHAR® XP: Compañia Española de Petroleos S.A (CEPSA), Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain


The ultimate solution for extreme hydrocarbon fire scenarios

The Customer

The Compañia Española de Petroleos S.A (CEPSA) refinery in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain, was the company’s first refinery built in 1930.

Its strategic island location makes it possible for CEPSA to supply oil derivatives to various locations around the world such as the Canary Islands, Mainland Spain, Africa and North and South America. The CEPSA refinery capacity is 4,500,000 tons annually.

The Challenge

The steel propane storage spheres at the CEPSA refinery in Santa Cruz are located directly adjacent to the ocean and are exposed to the highly corrosive effects of the saline seacoast environment.

Protecting the propane containing spheres and their supporting legs from cryogenic temperatures, the risk of fire, and the seacoast environment is essential.

The refinery requirements for the sphere included fire protection for 120 minutes with a critical temperature of 400°C/752°F. The sphere legs required 180 minutes with a critical temperature of 450°C/842°F.

CEPSA also wanted to do this in an aesthetically appealing finish that would exhibit excellent color and gloss retention over time.

The Solution

To meet the challenges of protecting the CEPSA propane sphere from corrosion, cryogenic temperatures, and hydrocarbon fire in an aesthetic manner, paint applicators prepared the sphere surfaces by abrasive blasting to Sa 2 according to ISO 8501-1. Then they applied a layer of PPG SIGMACOVER 522 primer to 75–100 microns (3–4 mils).

PPG FOAMGLAS® was then installed to insulate and protect the tank against cryogenic temperatures of –170°C/–274°F due to the propane gas storage.

The Owner

Compañia Española de Petroleos S.A (CEPSA)

The Contractor

Julio Crespo Canarias

The Location

Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain.

The Challenge

Protect steel gas storage sphere from corrosive environment, cryogenic temperatures and fire while maintaining an aesthetic appearance.

The Solution

PPG SIGMACOVER 522 (epoxy primer)
PPG PITT-CHAR® XP (passive fire protective/PFP coating)
PPG SIGMADUR 1800 (polyurethane finish)

The Benefits

  • Unique flexible epoxy intumescent coating
  • Superior fire and corrosion protection
  • Suitable for cryogenic exposure

The Result

  • Flexible and tough epoxy barrier forms an insulating char for fire protection
  • Anticorrosive epoxy protects in a saline seacoast environment
  • Protect storage tanks from cryogenic temperatures and fire

PPG FOAMGLAS® encased sphere

For fire protection, the legs and sphere were covered with PPG PITT-CHAR XP coating. An artistic finish in a marine design was painted on the spheres using PPG SIGMADUR 1800 polyurethane at a thickness of 80 microns (3.1 mils).

The Benefits

The PPG PITT-CHAR XP coating effectively stands up to many different environmental factors including atmospheric salt spray, heat and humidity, while offering steel assets the ultimate in hydrocarbon fire protection.

Propane containing spheres such as those at CEPSA’s refinery in Tenerife, are exposed to environmental temperature changes and potential cryogenic temperatures which required the additional PPG FOAMGLAS insulation.

The PPG PITT-CHAR XP coating was easily applied to the PPG FOAMGLAS encased sphere, providing fire protection of 120 minutes and protecting the steel legs supporting the sphere with 180 minutes of fire protection.

The PPG SIGMADUR 1800 coating’s excellent resistance to atmospheric exposure conditions such as salt air and daily doses of intense sunlight give the artistic design on the sphere exterior the color and gloss retention required to maintain the aesthetic appearance of the artist’s design.


PPG PITT-CHAR XP application

The Result

The preparation and application of the PPG PITT-CHAR XP coating and PPG FOAMGLAS insulation was successfully completed in April and May, 2011. It provided the steel legs and sphere with outstanding fire and cryogenic protection as well as an aesthetic appearance that blended with the seacoast environment.

The PPG PITT-CHAR XP system also provided excellent corrosion protection and durability in the saline and high-UV coastal conditions of Santa Cruz de Tenerife.

Hydrocarbon passive fire protection

Hydrocarbon passive fire protection

Hydrocarbon PFP (Passive Fire Protection) coatings are used extensively throughout the Petrochemical and Offshore industries to protect structures from the constant danger of hydrocarbon fires. This type of coating is designed to expand upon exposure to heat into an insulating protective char. This prevents steel from heating up rapidly and delays the loss of load-bearing capacity and integrity – buying crucial time for personnel to escape.



PPG PITT-CHAR XP is the only flexible intumescent epoxy on the market today and offers proven hydrocarbon passive fire protection (PFP) against the constant threat of hydrocarbon fire in many industries throughout the world. It also provides cryogenic spill protection providing a single product solution for the LNG market.

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