The oil and gas industry can take immediate action to significantly reduce emissions by introducing available technology into day-to-day operations.
Equipment Reliability: Having reliable equipment at the platform not only reduces frequent shutdowns and optimizes the production by increasing the well uptime but also contributes to eliminating unnecessary emission. Unplanned flaring or venting of methane occurs when equipment is depressurized for safety reasons, which leads to high emissions. Internet of Things (IoT) and predictive analytics would help in identifying faulty equipment in advance, reducing well downtime.
Efficiency Tolerance: Ensuring operating parameters have not significantly deviated outside the design tolerance range due to changes in well production behavior and equipment design. For example, pumps not running efficiently as per the design are less reliable and result in higher emissions. Good data connectivity from the point of installation, operation data and predictive analytics may increase reliability and efficiency.
Asset Integrity: It is important to replace and fix integrity problems that increase fugitive emissions, such as wear and tear of flange joints, valve glands, or seals as soon as possible. Sometimes there is a need to redesign the assets according to the operating conditions and parameters depending upon the fluid behavior. Introduction of asset digitization, monitoring, applying AI and predictive analytics will tremendously reduce unplanned fugitive emissions.
Reliable and Sustainable Equipment Design
Poor reliability is a considerable contributor to emissions. The capacity constraints of storage infrastructure are also a major challenge. Additional gas processing facilities, along with collection and transport infrastructure, are required to address this challenge. Predictive maintenance technologies can assist in estimating the necessary maintenance before any damage occurs, thereby reducing the shutdown time and, in turn, increasing efficiency and reducing carbon emissions. The following steps can help businesses not only reduce emissions, but also monetize waste.
Reducing Fugitive Emissions: By improving leak detection and repair (LDAR), installing vapor recovery units (VRU), applying mechanical seals on pumps, dry gas seals on compressors, and carbon packing ring sets on valve stems, companies can cut emissions of methane and the saved gas can be monetized.
Reducing Routine Flaring: Reducing regular flaring implies that the associated gas must be located or reinjected into the reservoir for beneficial use. While some flaring may be inevitable, additional gas processing, collection and transport facilities require attention. The AI-enabled models will help in assessment of processing and storage capabilities of a plant or operation site.
Reducing Non-Routine Flaring: Non-routine flaring contributes a large amount of emissions, mainly as a result of poor reliability. These are generally intermittent and of short duration. Carrying out predictive and prescriptive analytics for maintenance, instrument outages and replacing equipment can not only reduce emissions but also enhance production.
Monetizing Gas: A huge amount of natural gas is wasted globally through flares, vents, and leaks. This could generate nearly $39 billion of revenue globally if monetized. Solutions include reinjecting to enhance recovery, power generation, or other productive uses like portable CNG or mini LNG to treat gas onsite, LPG, gas to liquid (GTL) conversion plant and onsite direct electric power generation.
Resource Selection and Prioritization
Upstream leaders and operators are starting to take a closer look at their upstream resource choices for exploration and development. They need to make choices and prioritize around their field development plans including strategies for Improved/Enhanced Oil Recovery (IOR/EOR) implementation to minimize the emission level during project execution. Different intensity.
Reservoir Complexity and Fluid Types: Reservoirs that are highly viscous, deep water, faulted, or high pressure and high temperature may be at a geological emissions disadvantage. They may therefore become unfavorable for development in the future in terms of emission intensity. Resources with higher API gravity crude oil, shallow to medium water depth or involving conventional production technologies would be favorable. The demand for shale oil has led the industry to focus more on hydraulic fracking, which is affecting the environment in many ways, such as seismic activity and water supply impacts. AI/ML based reservoir modelling can help in identifying the reservoir complexity.
Field Development Plans: The amount of emission levels and their impact need to be considered, evaluated, and compared with the recovery factor during field development plans. The appropriate resource selection play an important role for maximum recovery and least emission. AI digital solutions, which help in identifying the appropriate IOR/EOR methods based on reservoir complexity, may help in asset prioritization.
CCUS (carbon capture, usage and store) techniques are integrated with reinjection of the carbon dioxide for extraction of the extra oil, and these processes need to be fully considered and measured in the planning stages, and then evaluated once on production.
What technology can the oil and gas value chain adopt to reduce emissions?
Emissions start from upstream extraction of oil and gas to downstream refining and sales including transportation of crude in the midstream. Different technology and methods need to be applied for handling large amount of emissions from different sources and locations. Massive amounts of fugitive emissions were observed which accounts for more than 50% of all the emissions.
Upstream oil and gas majors should start looking into the options available for immediate reduction of CO2 and methane emissions throughout the supply chain processes including extraction of crude to transport and refining in upstream, midstream and downstream sectors.
Effective implementation of these options would reduce the huge amount of emissions and help in achieving goals of a greener planet.