Penn State Marcellus Education Team
Earlier this month, a new initiative, the Environmental Partnership, was announced by the American Petroleum Institute, the coordinator and top trade group for the oil and gas industry. The initial 26 companies have voluntarily committed to phase out leak-prone devices and to take key steps in reducing methane and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from being released into the atmosphere.
While natural gas has been shown to be a low-carbon alternative to coal, methane, the main ingredient in natural gas, has been shown to increase greenhouse gas emissions. The partnership has developed three environmental performance programs to implement and phase into their operations starting in the new year. These programs are:
- Leak Program – leaks throughout the production and transportation process of natural gas can occur through the numerous valves, flanges and welded connections. These leaks can be difficult to detect. Companies will implement monitoring and technologies to monitor for leaks, providing company plan outlines, and methodology, providing a timeline, with all participating sites covered within a maximum of 5 years. All repairs will be completed with 60 days unless a delay of repair is needed to wait for the scheduled shutdown or part availability.
- Manual Liquids Unloading Program – Liquids build up pressure, often more than the gas velocity, thus it slows or stops the flow of gas. The accumulated liquids, mainly water, need to be removed. Without monitoring, the unloading process can allow methane and VOCs to be released. Companies will commit to monitoring the manual unloading process, implementing best practices to minimize emissions during the process of liquid removal.
- Pneumatic Controller Upgrades Program - pneumatic controllers are used in the remote, automatic process of controlling natural gas valves. These controllers can release small amounts of methane and VOCs into the atmosphere. Companies will commit to replace, remove, or retrofit these high-bleed pneumatic controllers within 5 years.
The Environmental Partnership will report annually on these three programs.
Besides these three programs, the Partnership will provide a platform for industry to collaborate and learn from each other. "The industry has a long record of implementing technology and practices that have proven to increase efficiency and reduce the environmental footprint of operations," said Jack Gerard, president and CEO of the American Petroleum Institute. "In establishing the Environmental Partnership, the natural gas and oil industry is working together to promote the most effective programs and opportunities to improve environmental performance throughout our operations."
Additional information and the companies involved can be found on the Environmental Partnership website.