Exxon Launches Multi-Pronged Approach to Reducing Methane Emissions 0

ExxonMobil is taking fugitive methane emissions seriously with a program designed to lower the volume of the greenhouse gas that is released from the company’s production and midstream sites across the US.

The program, launched in September, prioritizes actions at US sites operated by the company’s shale-focused subsidiary XTO Energy. The effort includes phasing out high-bleed pneumatic devices, research into new technologies designed to detect and reduce facility emissions, staff training, and a leak detection and repair program.

“We are implementing an enhanced leak detection and repair program across our production and midstream sites to continually reduce methane emissions, and are also evaluating opportunities to upgrade facilities and improve efficiency at both current and future sites,” XTO President Sara Ortwein said in a press release.

The program goes beyond measures required by federal and state laws and represents a substantial move by Exxon — the largest natural gas producer in the US — to set a higher bar for the entire industry.

Plan Details

The multi-pronged approach to reducing methane emissions begins with a focus on the wellhead and associated midstream infrastructure; The leak detection and repair program requirse every XTO division to survey production and midstream sites with optical gas imaging camera technology for leaks. Data collected by these surveys will then analyzed for frequency, trends and patterns with facilities and equipment that are found to be more prone to leaking becoming top repair priorities.

XTO is also starting a three-year plan to phase out the use of 1,250 high-bleed pneumatic devices across its US operations. The valves, which are typically found at older sites, are designed to periodically vent pressure buildup to maintain safety, system integrity and efficient operations. The ones considered ‘high bleed’ vent more often and at higher volume

The practice of addressing the most leak-prone equipment and high-bleed pneumatic devices first suggests that XTO’s program could yield notable improvements early on. That’s because the largest portion of methane emissions appears to come from a small number of sources, in much the same way that a small percentage of older cars is responsible for the largest share of automotive-exhaust pollution, according to a 2014 study published by the University of Texas and the Environmental Defense Fund, with participation from Exxon.

The new program also calls for managing planned events in ways that are designed to reduce the release of methane emissions into the atmosphere. For instance, field personal will now monitor and remain nearby during the manual liquid unloading process at well sites to close off all wellhead vents to the atmosphere. Liquid unloading is a process that involves removing liquid that has collected in equipment tubing and prevents natural gas from flowing up through the well.

In addition, a training effort focused on management approaches to overall fugitive emissions is being launched and will consider topics like pneumatic device integrity, leak detection and repair practices, and the sharing of best practices across the company.

XTO will also continue its practice of using green completions to minimize methane emissions at wells during the completion process by capturing or burning off flowback emissions instead of venting them into the atmosphere. It is also working to minimize the need to burn off or flare this gas by maximizing gas capture via pipeline, although some flaring will still happen at new developments where infrastructure investments are contingent on successful hydrocarbon development.

West Texas and New Mexico

XTO has already begun putting some of these practices to use in prolific fields in West Texas and New Mexico. Last year, the company completed a pilot project in the Midland Basin that tested new low-emission designs that use compressed air instead of natural gas to operate the pneumatic equipment that helps to regulate conditions such as level, flow, pressure and temperature. It said the results demonstrated the feasibility of using similar designs for new and existing central tank batteries to further eliminate methane emissions.

The company is also collaborating with ExxonMobil Upstream Research Company and third-party equipment manufacturers to develop state-of-the-art, low-cost, minimum-emissions equipment that could be used for future developments, particularly in the Delaware Basin. Parent company Exxon is also participating in a methane measurement reconciliation study with the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and supporting research underway at Harvard, the University of Texas Energy Initiative, and Stanford University’s Natural Gas Initiative.

Legal Battles

Exxon’s expanded commitment to the environment comes as the company is facing an environmental legal battle in California. In July 2017, seven coastal communities filed suits in their local Superior Court systems alleging greenhouse gas emissions caused by Exxon and 17 other energy companies contributed to a warming planet, leading to coastal flooding, beach erosion and rising infrastructure costs. New York City followed California’s lead in January by filing its own lawsuit against the oil major and four other fossil fuel companies that seeks billions in damages to fund “climate change resiliency measures that the city needs to implement.”

Exxon’s Vice President of Public and Government Affairs for Suzanne McCarron addressed these global warming concerns in a January post on the company’s Energy Factor blog, saying “We believe the risk of climate change is real and we are committed to being part of the solution. That is why we have invested $8 billion since 2000 on energy efficiency and emissions reduction.”

In the meantime, the effort by these governmental bodies to wring money from the oil supermajor may ultimately be distracting from the bigger, overarching challenge we all face — that of securing energy to power a hungry world while coming up with technological solutions to reduce the risks posed by climate change.

The methane emissions reduction effort represents a step in the right direction for Exxon and serves as the latest indication that momentum to develop more sustainable oilfield practices is building across the industry.

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BP Oman Achieves Significant Reduction in CO2 Emissions for the Khazzan Project 0

BP Oman Achieves Significant Reduction in CO2 Emissions for the Khazzan Project

Fit-for-basin well cleanup solution enables zero-flaring delivery of new wells to central production facility

GHG emissions reduction goal

As part of BP’s commitment to advancing a low carbon future, BP operations around the world are striving to make a meaningful contribution to reduce GHG emissions. For BP Oman, a major GHG-emitting activity is associated with flaring in cleanup operations for new wells. For this scenario, BP Oman is taking the lead to identify and implement proactive ways of reducing GHG emissions in Khazzan Field for new well cleanups.

Introducing green completions

Supergiant Khazzan Field is characterized by tight reservoirs that require hydraulic fracturing to release the gas. After fracturing, wells are tested and cleaned up by the conventional method of flaring and burning the well fluids, which are gas and produced condensate. This results in the release of GHG to the atmosphere. To eliminate these emissions, BP Oman introduced green completions to Khazzan Field. The green completions technique redefines well testing from a GHG-producing activity to one that prevents GHG emissions by routing the hydrocarbons to the production facility.

BP’s ambition is to be a net zero company by 2050 or sooner and to help the world get to net zero. Schlumberger shares BP’s commitment to low carbon and is committed to set a science-based target by 2021 and update the CO2 emissions footprint ambition accordingly.

Collaborative design for challenging conditions

BP Oman engaged with Schlumberger to develop a fit-for-basin solution to clean up and produce gas from Khazzan Field after fracturing. All modifications and designs were performed through the Schlumberger RapidResponse customer-driven product development process to enable solids-free produced hydrocarbons at optimal conditions for combination with the processing facility pipeline.

Photograph of fit-for-basin zero-flaring solution for the Khazzan Field.
Schlumberger and BP Oman collaborated to deliver a fit-for-basin zero-flaring solution for the Khazzan Field

Project success contributes to low carbon goals

The residual solids from stimulation operations that are often present in the fluid flowstream pose a risk to system integrity and can compromise process lines and production facility equipment. To address this risk, Schlumberger designed and installed an integrated separation, filtration, and acoustic monitoring system for the well testing solution.

One challenge was the relatively high separating process pressure needed, which demanded a specific well test design that didn’t exceed the process facility gathering system design pressure. A solution was developed by combining large-bore temporary pipelines and manifolds with a digitally enabled, high-capacity four-phase horizontal separator equipped with autonomous meters providing real-time measurements and monitoring efficient separation of the well effluent phases to deliver hydrocarbons at export specifications.

The design also enhanced process safety by incorporating 6-in safety valves in the electronic emergency shutdown system to address the high volume of hydrocarbons in the pipelines.

Project success contributes to low carbon goals

Schlumberger well testing solutions continue to operate at Khazzan Field and have set a new bar for operational efficiency and service delivery by improving customer performance. In 2019, the green completions well cleanup technique has been applied to 10 wells for flowback to clean up for production and reservoir testing. The result is more than 80,000 t of CO2 emission reduction. This is equivalent to taking nearly 18,000 cars off the road for a year.

Quasar 2 – New Flare Stack Monitoring System 0

The new flare stack monitoring system from LumaSense Technologies is designed to monitor pilot flames and flared gases for elevated flare stacks. Additional applications include: Gas assist flares, Staged flares, and Offshore flares. Quasar 2 is available in “Basic” and “Advanced” models.

Safe flare operation and environmental protection require reliable and accurate flare pilot monitoring. Generally, all flare pilots are monitored with thermocouples. However, thermocouples fail due to thermal shock, extreme heat and vibrations during flaring events. The requirement for pilot monitoring beyond the normal life of pilot thermocouples has driven the market need for alternative methods and installation of redundant methods of pilot monitoring in addition standard pilot thermocouples. Regional flare governmental permitting rules driven by environmental protection, health and safety guidelines for global flare operation have had a large impact on the increasing market need for IR pilot monitoring systems.

The E²T Quasar 2 series are monitoring and detection instruments designed for continuous duty monitoring of pilot flame and flared gases from flares. The base system provides low-cost basic flare pilot monitoring capabilities. The advanced model has an intensity meter with 2 set points that allow monitoring of both the pilot and flaring status signals from the same unit. Additional add-on features are available for a configurable product to meet a wide range of client flare types, monitoring requirements and budget. High Resolution sight-through optical system and selection of various spot sizes enables the Quasar 2 system to be positioned as far as 1/4 mile (400 m) from the stack being monitored. Alignment on the target is accomplished through bead and notch aiming and signal amplitude in combination with a stable M-4 heavy duty swivel mount. Custom electronics adapt to target movement, varying luminosity and most climate conditions. The alarm delay circuit can be adjusted for a specific location or application, eliminating false alarms from temporary loss of signal due to intermittent flames, adverse weather and wind.

The system is complete with internal cooling base, air purge tube and swivel mount. An optional M-8 pedestal stand allows for easy stable system mounting. With over installations at over 550 petrochemical facilities worldwide, customers know they can trust LumaSense E²T line of petrochemical infrared sensors.

LumaSense Technologies, Inc.

Published on Aug 1, 2018

For more information, visit: https://info.lumasenseinc.com/q2

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