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Human Factors Can Cause a Disaster—or Prevent One

Human Factors Can Cause a Disaster—or Prevent One

Process industry plants are complex and ...

Improving Valve Sealing Performance and Reliability

Improving Valve Sealing Performance and Reliability

From time to time, we are re-posting wel...

A Primer on Fugitive Emissions

A Primer on Fugitive Emissions

Fourscore and seven years ago, no one ha...

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Industry Headlines

Industry Headlines

Emerson Expanding Mississippi Facility

3 DAYS AGO

Emerson plans on delivering $500,000 in new equipment to its facility in Sherman, MS. Because of this investment , and its promise of new jobs for the region, the Sherman Economic Development Corp. has approved $150,000 in grants for Emerson.

"We have a relatively new Fisher product that will be reloca...

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REXA and CCC Form Joint Initiative

3 DAYS AGO

REXA and Compressor Controls Corporation (CCC) have formed a joint initiative to modernize steam turbine controls for enhanced performance based upon each company’s core competency.

There are more than 10,000 turbomachinery trains worldwide powered by CCC. By upgrading mechanical and hydraulic go...

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Energy Transfer Partners Building New NGL Fractionation Facility

-1 DAYS AGO

Energy Transfer Partners’ subsidiary, Lone Star NGL LLC, will construct a fifth natural gas liquids (NGL) fractionation facility at Mont Belvieu, TX. The construction of Fractionator V is a result of the tremendous production growth in the Delaware and Permian Basins.

Fractionator V, including NG...

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Chevron and Pembina Sign Deal to Build Pipelines, Other Facilities

3 DAYS AGO

Calgary-based Pembina Pipeline Corp. has signed a 20-year deal with Chevron to build natural gas pipelines and processing facilities for a potential production operation in northwest Edmonton, Alberta. The infrastructure developed over the term of this agreement has the potential to represent a multi-...

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Kansas City Fed Survey Shows Regional Manufacturing Jump

-1 DAYS AGO

According to Chad Wilkerson, vice president and economist at the Kansas City Fed, the district’s February Manufacturing Survey revealed that manufacturing activity expanded further with continued strong expectations . The Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City serves the tenth Federal Reserve Distr...

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U.S. Private Sector Growth Slows from January’s 14-Month Peak

3 DAYS AGO

At 54.3 in February, the seasonally adjusted Markit Flash U.S. Composite PMI Output Index dropped from 55.8 in January but remained above the 50.0 no-change value for the twelfth consecutive month. The latest reading signaled that private sector output growth moderated from the 14-month high recorded ...

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Process Control Goes Green

Oil and natural gas operators can help reduce methane and other emissions—and increase revenue—by replacing traditional pneumatic devices with energy-responsible pneumatic pressure and level control devices.

 

An estimated $20 billion or more in revenue is lost each year globally due to methane emissions. Coupled with this lost revenue, global greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), of which methane comprises a substantial portion, have been gaining ever increasing visibility from a variety of agencies, special interest groups, national and international companies, politicians and the general public. It’s clear that a substantial problem exists. Many companies, however, are looking to alleviate that problem by changing their methods of operations and sharing best practices with each other.

THE METHANE FACTOR

Countless studies have analyzed the net effects greenhouse gases have on our environment and have resulted in a diverse range of views on the subject. However, one accepted fact is that methane is the most potent of the global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Each year significant amounts of methane—the primary constituent of natural gas—are emitted into the atmosphere. These emissions cause concern because of the increasing negative effects on the environment as a whole, as well as the large amounts of revenue lost as a result. The importance of reducing methane emissions cannot be understated; but with innovative technology and implementation of best practices, the entire world’s industries can shift toward using more environmentally responsible products for process control functions. This shift in thinking will also result in cost savings and increased revenue.

Many owners and operators at oil and gas production, processing and transmission facilities have already taken initiatives to eliminate or reduce methane emissions. One shining example, which illustrates the widespread collaboration among companies, is the EPA Natural Gas STAR program. This program is a voluntary partnership between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and numerous natural gas companies, which provides a way to share best practices for reducing emissions among member companies. Currently, the program includes 23 of the top 25 natural gas producing companies which constitute 62% of the production, processing, transmission and distribution of natural gas. It also constitutes 62% of the production, processing, transmission and distribution of natural gas. As Figure 1 illustrates, in the 14 years since the program was established, more than 577 billion cubic feet of methane emissions, at a value of $3.4 billion, have been eliminated through voluntary initiatives by the member companies—initiatives that have also provided these companies cost savings and increased operational efficiency.(1)

This article provides examples of opportunities to reduce methane emissions in oil and natural gas applications, and highlights the significant cost savings that can be realized by implementing available technologies in the process control market. The primary methane emissions mitigation method discussed in this article is identification and replacement of high-bleed pneumatic pressure and level control devices.

PNEUMATIC CONTROL DEVICE BASICS

Continuous bleed pneumatic controllers are used in the oil and natural gas industry to regulate level, flow-rate, temperature or pressure. Given the infrastructure for installing these devices, natural gas may be the only option for a supply medium in places where it is not possible, economical or convenient for installing compressed air systems.
Nearly all pneumatic devices use the same basic design principle, which consists of a nozzle-flapper mechanism (Figure 2, left) that executes throttling control and exhibits continuous or intermittent bleed of the supply medium. Varying the separation between the flapper and nozzle alters the resistance to gas flow. Increasing the distance between the nozzle and the flapper reduces nozzle resistance and output pressure, while decreasing the distance has the opposite effect. In most pneumatic devices that use this concept, the inherent design of the nozzle flapper mechanism is the only reason the supply medium bleeds to the atmosphere.

Controllers that use a three-way valve for proportional band control also introduce another way for supply gas to bleed to the atmosphere (Figure 2, right). Some pneumatic controllers are designed to bleed only when the unit is in transient operation, or cycling, while others bleed both during steady-state conditions and transients. The steady-state bleed tends to dominate the emissions reduction focus; however, consumption during transients should not be underestimated because of the potentially significant effect on the total amount of gas consumed by the device.

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