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Download September 28, 2020

Why is accurate emissions reporting important?

It goes without saying that we are in a major energy transition as the drive to reduce carbon emissions and focus on other energy sources is intensifying. Many companies and jurisdictions have pledged to be “net-zero emissions”, with widely varying plans to actually accomplish this.

Oil and gas will still play a major part in the global energy mix for decades to come, and it is important for companies in the energy industry to continue to adapt and minimize their emissions intensity.

In Canada, we are leaders in developing and implementing emissions reduction technology. The country is driven by a strong regulatory regime which is requiring Canadian companies to act decisively.

Canada has an international commitment to reduce oil and gas methane emissions by 40 to 45 percent below 2012 levels by 2025. Regulations have been developed to ensure reporting and reduction of methane emissions, which required the first comprehensive methane emissions reports to be submitted in June 2020. In addition, on September 25, 2020, the Government of Alberta announced significant funding (based on industry funding collected from the Technology Innovation and Emissions Reduction regulation, or “TIER”). This funding will be used for methane reduction projects in the oil & gas industry.

While all of this is positive in terms of showing that the Canadian industry is committed to emissions reduction, it is a challenge for companies to effectively manage the reporting and reduction of emissions, especially in the current business environment. Indeed, to develop an accurate methane emissions profile is a massive effort, requiring companies to compile and report emissions for every source – including wells, facilities, batteries, compressor stations, and so on. Emissions for any equipment at all of these facilities which could potentially release methane – from pneumatic controllers and pumps, to tanks to fugitive emissions – must be calculated or measured.

The first regulatory methane report in Canada was required to be submitted June 2020, and now companies need to improve on these initial inventory estimates while ensuring ongoing compliance with emissions limits. In some cases, the estimates may be too high, particularly where the inventory is not known in detail and conservative emissions factors were used. In other cases, equipment may have been missed, or minor sources excluded on the first pass.

Either way, without the most accurate emissions profile, companies may not be applying their capital to the most promising opportunities for emissions reduction.

There are many ways to improve on methane emissions inventory estimates, including:

  • Improving tank vent volume and composition estimates by gathering more data such as hydrocarbon liquid analyses for streams to the tanks
  • Gathering more accurate data on pneumatic controllers and pumps, including operating data which can impact emissions rates
  • Evaluating pneumatic equipment emissions rates under a broader range of operation
  • Accurate measurement of stripping gas used in dehydration facilities
  • Better measurement of emissions for widely utilized equipment
  • Improved estimates of non-routine emissions such as blowdowns
  • Improvements in fugitive quantification

These are just a few examples of areas that companies can look at to improve their methane inventory emissions estimates. Focus should be on those areas with the highest emissions, and also on projects which have been targeted by methane funding.

Methane emissions are part of the Alberta Energy Regulators (AER) “Directive 60” – the flaring and venting regulation which has been widely used as the basis for other jurisdictions within Canada and globally. Canada’s energy industry is making significant strides in reducing emissions intensity and showing its global leadership. 

Process Ecology is working hard with our clients to efficiently and accurately report emissions, reduce the cost of compliance, and determine the best opportunities for emissions reduction.

By James Holoboff, M.Sc., P. Eng.

James has over 25 years of experience in process engineering and emissions management for the chemical and petroleum industries. He brings a strong background in the development and application of computer simulation models to oil & gas industry challenges. James worked for Hyprotech/Aspentech for almost 10 years in various capacities including Global Technical Support Manager and Business Development Manager for the Project Services Division. He then spent 5 years providing process engineering and simulation consulting to a number of operating companies and engineering firms. James has been a Managing Partner for Process Ecology for 10+ years, during this time providing process engineering services, emissions reporting, project management, and software development support. James is a Chemical Engineering graduate from the University of Calgary and holds a MSc in Chemical Engineering from the same institution. In his spare time, when he’s not playing ice hockey or cycling, he is recovering from injuries incurred from those sports.

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