Guest Post: Reduce fugitive emissions by using better field reporting

ProntoForms helps oil and gas operators move towards greener operations and reduces the environmental, health, and economic impacts from fugitive emissions.
This is a guest post from Pat Hinds, Chief Market Research Officer for Oilgasleads.com.

This is a guest blog post written by Pat Hinds, Chief Market Research Officer for Oilgasleads.com.

Pat Hinds is an expert in using oil & gas market research to create oil & gas marketing content that can be used in social media, email and blogging marketing campaigns to drive product awareness and generate new sales leads for your products & services.  As the Chief Market Research Officer for Oilgasleads.com he is responsible to spearhead development, growth, and execution of innovative research strategies for the entire company.


The oil & gas industry plays a very important role in the global economy and production of energy investment in the industry to be $2.5 trillion next year.  Oil & Gas Operators are serious about reducing Fugitive emissions.  Fugitive emissions (FE) are leaks and other irregular releases of gases or vapors from a pressurized containment—such as appliances, storage tanks, pipelines, wells, or other pieces of equipment —mostly from industrial activities. 

Programs being implemented to minimize fugitive emissions by the oil & gas industry include environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG), environmental management system (EMS), and leak detection and repair (LDAR).  Implementing ESG programs will require well defined policies, these polices will need to be monitored and measured to ensure these are meet.  The following document explores these programs and the role that technology plays in the success of these programs. 

ESG Technology Overview

The considerable growth in the oil and gas industry brings with it an increasing reliance on technology to support oil and gas operators as they aim to keep up with expanded activity. ProntoForms’ forms solution puts best-in-class data collection, inspection, and work guidance directly in the hands of oil and gas technicians. Techs at job sites use their mobile devices to run through step-by-step instructions from job dispatch to data collection. ProntoForms then seamlessly sends data across the tech stack including FSMs, EAMs, and systems of record, to fuel decision-making with reporting, audits, and correct actions—with full traceability.

ProntoForms’ field-focused low-code development platform sets companies up to control costs and optimize processes easily. There’s no need to waste time and money on developers who don’t understand the oil & gas industry. Have those who know the front lines best create apps tailored to processes with an easy-to-use form builder. Deploy apps fast, iterate them even faster, and then use the data collected to identify areas to improve and optimize processes.

Trusted for compliance and rapid-response ready, ProntoForms is relied upon by leaders in the oil and gas industry. Quoting Kenneth Bohn, Service Operations Manager from Shell, “We’re digitizing everything within Shell, and I think ProntoForms is the solution that we’re driving.”

What are Fugitive Emissions?

Fugitive emissions (FE) are leaks and other irregular releases of gases or vapors from a pressurized containment—such as appliances, storage tanks, pipelines, wells, or other pieces of equipment —mostly from industrial activities. Common industrial gases include refrigerants and natural gas, while less common examples are perfluorocarbons, sulfur hexafluoride, and nitrogen trifluoride.

Fugitive emissions from equipment leaks are unintentional losses and may arise due to normal wear and tear, improper or incomplete assembly of components, inadequate material specification, manufacturing defects, damage during installation or use, corrosion, fouling, and environmental effects. Components also tend to have greater average emissions when subjected to frequent thermal cycling, vibrations, or cryogenic service.

Fugitive emissions have become a great concern around the world due to their negative impacts on productivity, environment, and health. In addition to the economic cost of lost commodities, fugitive emissions contribute to local air pollution and may cause further environmental harm. Fugitive emissions account for 70%–90% of air emissions from chemical facilities in the United States (Schaich, 1991). Climate change could directly cost the world economy US$7.9 trillion by mid-century as increased drought, flooding and crop failures hamper growth and threaten infrastructure.

Fugitive emissions are inherently difficult to quantify because they cannot be directly measured on a large scale.  For natural gas systems, these measurements can include individual equipment counts, leak detection surveys, and pipe size measurements. These measurement methodologies may provide a snapshot of emissions for a single location under certain conditions, but they do not encompass a larger period of time, scale an entire site, nor show all circumstances.

There is increasing interest in fugitive emissions and how they can be reduced using existing workforce and technology. 

How to curb fugitive emissions

With the energy transition underway, many Oil & Gas Operators are moving toward greener operations. Programs being implemented to minimize fugitive emissions by the oil & gas industry include environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG), environmental management system (EMS), and leak detection and repair (LDAR).

Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance (ESG)

In the oil and gas industry, environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) programs are especially complex; but maintaining strong partnerships with the supply chain and local communities is key. Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance (ESG) is an evaluation of a firm’s collective conscientiousness for social and environmental factors. It is typically a score that is compiled from data collected surrounding specific metrics related to intangible assets within the enterprise. It could be considered a corporate social credit score.

Environmental Management System examples

An ISO 14001 environmental management system is a structured system designed to help organisations manage their environmental impacts and improve environmental performance caused by their products, services, and activities. An EMS provides structure to environmental management and covers areas such as training, record management, inspections, objectives, and policies.

Leak Detection and Repair Policy

The best way to reduce fugitive emissions is through regular testing and maintenance. Leak detection should be scheduled at regular intervals using gas detection devices, which can measure the amount of vapours escaping, determine what they are and decide on an appropriate course of action.

Component Types Monitored for Fugitive Emissions

  • Valves
  • Pumps
  • Flanges/connectors
  • Compressors
  • Relief valves
  • Open-ended lines
  • Process drains

LDAR programs are used to inspect fugitive components to identify leaks either by using instruments or in limited cases, by physical inspections. Leaks identified by the inspections are then repaired within a specified time period, thus reducing the emissions. When these programs are in place, estimated fugitive emissions can be reduced using the emission control credits according to Table V, in Appendix A. These credits can only be given in cases where the components are actually inspected and for components for which the LDAR program could result in emission reductions.

  • Leak definition: The leak definition is the monitored concentration of an air contaminant, defined in parts per million by volume (ppmv), that identifies a leaking component needing repair.
  • Monitoring frequency: The monitoring frequency varies depending on the component types and the LDAR program in place. Components typically must be monitored on a quarterly basis; however, some programs allow facilities to skip monitoring periods when the percentage of leaking components is maintained under a specified rate.
  • Properties of the monitored compounds: Some LDAR programs define the components to be monitored by the vapor pressure of the material in the component or the weight percent of VOC in the stream. Compounds must have sufficient VOC vapor pressure to register as a leak when dripping to qualify for an emission reduction credit for monitoring.
  • Requirements for repair: Program repair requirements may be either directed or non-directed maintenance. A directed maintenance program requires that a gas analyzer be used in conjunction with the repair or maintenance of leaking components to assure that a minimum leak concentration is achieved. A non-directed maintenance program does not require the use of a gas analyzer during repair or maintenance of a leaking component. In either case, if a replacement is required to fix a leaking component, the replaced component should be re-monitored within 15 days to confirm that the repair was successful.

How ProntoForms assists oil & gas operators

ProntoForms empowers asset uptime, equipment maintenance, and compliance with easy-to-deploy, best in class field service software. Global leaders such as Shell and Halliburton successfully leverage ProntoForms’ agile low-code apps for multiple field operations.

Overall, the solution helps oil and gas operators move towards greener operations and reduces the environmental, health, and economic impacts from fugitive emissions.

Oil and gas operators can collect granular data on assets to improve asset longevity and performance. Their reach into the field is extended with a mobile, field-first app. Techs have advance notice on an asset’s complete history before arriving on site and then afterwards can automatically submit detailed asset-specific reports. The asset lifecycle is improved by preventative maintenance and asset repair that is based on rich collected data that can be fed directly into a EAM system.

Regardless of tenure or skill level, field service engineers can take advantage of guided workflows to ensure the proper and complete assembly, physical inspection and monitoring of components. Companies gain richer, deeper data that helps identify potential EHS risks before they occur.

The process of early and regular detection, as well as rapid management of fugitive emissions from equipment leaks that require maintenance or repair is supported by ProntoForms. The result? It’s considerably easier to capture, store and act on the vast amounts of data from every element of a company’s field service operations to comply with safety protocols and ensure a seamless auditing process.

ProntoForms gives complete auditability and standardization of operating procedures for high-risk workflows with EHS compliance and green initiative guidelines built-in—from asset installation to replacement.

Operators examples of fugitive emission management

EOG Resources

An Environmental Management System is a set of processes and practices that enable an organization to reduce its environmental impacts and increase its operating efficiency. 

Environmental Management Applications. As part of the EMS, EOG uses a combination of internal and third-party systems to organize large quantities of data into a database structure so it can easily be reviewed, used, monitored, and maintained day-to-day.

In addition, data in the EMS is used to track regulatory monitoring and reporting schedules, environmental incidents and process changes that are being implemented.

Pioneer Resources

Pioneer ESG Task Force was established in 2020 and comprises a subset of the Management Committee and other officers and key leaders from various disciplines across the company. Pioneer’s ESG Task Force is responsible for shaping our long-term ESG strategy and overseeing Pioneer corporate ESG goals and related reporting. The Task Force ensures project resources are available and provides strategic direction and expert advice, including the review and approval of Sustainability Report content and related publications.

ESG Task Force meetings occur monthly, or as needed. The immediate priority of the Task Force was implementing the following goals and aligning Pioneer ESG disclosures with stakeholder expectations of industry-leading practices, including:

  • Ensuring accuracy of data collection and reporting of key ESG measures, particularly for GHG emissions (and its constituent parts)
  • Establishing long-term quantitative emission intensity targets on GHG, methane and flaring intensity
  • Driving strategic and operational activities in the company to position Pioneer to meet its long-term ESG continuous improvement targets
  • Aligning Pioneer risk management and decision-making processes with TCFD and SASB principles

Diamondback

Consistent with Diamondback’s overall approach to environmental responsibility, Diamondback strives to limit and capture emissions by implementing BACT on all new facilities and wells and retrofitting our older facilities. BACT projects include fitting our tanks with vapor recovery towers and compressors that can capture up to 99.9% of possible emissions.

Diamondback maintains an LDAR program that uses optical gas imaging cameras and other technologies to monitor and measure the emissions from our facilities. As part of the self-auditing procedures, they act promptly to correct any identified flaws and leaks.

Conclusion

The oil & gas industry has a strong road map to address the reduction of fugitive emissions that are contributing to global warming.  The programs include Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance (ESG), Environmental Management System EMS and Leak Detection and Repair (LDAR). 

The successful execution of these programs two very important component; people and technology.  Companies like Pioneer Resources have ESG task force to set policies and monitor results.  Diamondback Energy has implemented self-auditing procedures related to environmental procedures that are executed by field personal. Companies like ProntoForms empowers asset uptime, equipment maintenance, and compliance with easy-to-deploy, best in class field service software.

Global leaders such as Shell and Halliburton successfully leverage ProntoForms’ agile low-code apps for multiple field operations and ESG programs in the reduction of fugitive emissions.

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