Back in ancient times, when I worked in offshore oil & gas production in the 1980s, the Environmental team rarely interacted with the production automation teams. As regulations around emissions have increased, the need for these teams to collaborate has increased. This is especially true around compliance with methane and other emissions.
The author of a recent RBN Energy blog post noted:
Discussions around the ongoing energy transition often focus on the need to control and then reduce the volume of GHGs emitted into the atmosphere. And while carbon dioxide (CO2), the most prevalent GHG, often gets the most attention, methane is especially problematic. It is the primary constituent in pipeline natural gas and also a particularly potent GHG, with a Global Warming Potential (GWP) that is 25-36 times that of CO2 if normalized to a 100-year timeline.
At the recent 4C Health, Safety & Environmental conference, the topic of emissions detection, regulatory compliance, and reporting was frequent and recurring. I caught up with Emerson’s Marcio Donnangelo and Lara Rabbath for their impressions of some of the conversations.
Marcio noted that the focus on Environmental, Social & Governance (ESG), specifically sustainability, pushed the need for greater standards. Today many standards for parts of ESG exist across many industries. Companies seek more explicit guidance beyond regulatory compliance to more sustainable operations.
With her experience in air permitting for a U.S. state regulatory body, Lara highlighted all the technologies and consulting services shown around the 4C Conference to comply with the U.S. Federal Environmental Protection Agency’s LDAR (leak detection and repair) regulations. Most manufacturers and producers with emissions contract consultants to develop, execute and refine LDAR compliance programs.
She also highlighted an AI-based search site, Enviro.AI’s Tundra Search, to assist in finding answers to permitting questions. From their website, the purpose of their services and search is to help:
…Petrochemical and Refining companies substantively reduce regulatory burden and risk. It is the only way to make all government and public environmental information accessible, searchable, and therefore invaluable.
As regulations grow more stringent, new technologies are creating the need for greater collaboration between the Environmental and Automation teams. The Emerson team showed several technologies, such as pressure relief valve monitoring, based on wireless sensors and built-for-purpose operational analytics, to help instantly spot emission sources from leaks or failures. Many technologies and solutions are available for tank pressure management to help avoid emissions and safety incidents.
Another source of emissions is the fuel used to create steam in the boilers. Steam traps in the distribution network “…discharge condensates and non-condensable gases with a negligible consumption or loss of live steam.” When these devices leak or fail, energy is wasted. These devices are typically manually inspected on an infrequent basis, such as yearly. With continuous steam trap monitoring, problems can be immediately identified and repaired to improve overall fuel efficiency and minimize emissions from combustion.
Lara also shared the focus at the Conference around growing the role of women in leadership in these industries. She participated in panels around diversity and inclusion and women’s networking events to discuss current challenges and best practices as companies advance the people side of their ESG initiatives.
Visit some of the links above for more on the technologies and solutions to advance your sustainability initiatives.