6 sustainable solutions for reducing GHG emissions at pipeline facilities
November 24, 2020
November 24, 2020
Rethinking engineering and construction practices can reduce the carbon footprint for Oil & Gas pipeline projects
The push to reduce global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is at the forefront as we continue to close in on our 2050 net zero targets set by the Paris Agreement. Governmental agencies for countries pledged to the cause are clamping down on companies to aid them in their efforts. Even just last month in the Canadian Government’s throne speech, Justin Trudeau and Liberal Party of Canada vowed to cut GHGs by 30% by 2030.
This has prompted industry experts to search for innovative ways to reduce the carbon footprint of their projects. Whether designing a high-efficiency building envelop or adding hydrogen to our energy infrastructure, everyone is seeking methods and technologies to help reduce emissions in both the short and long term.
The same is true about the Oil & Gas sector: We are always looking for ways to deliver the most efficient projects for our clients and the communities they serve. This contributes to reducing global emissions and it provides our clients with stronger social license to operate in an age where climate responsibility is vital.
We can’t build our way to a clean energy future overnight. Fossil fuels will remain our primary source of energy for the near future and pipelines must operate as we strive toward 100% renewable energy. But what can pipeline operators do to reduce emissions right now? Here are six sustainable solutions for reducing GHG emissions at pipeline facilities.
Before you begin your pipeline facilities project, make sure to have a robust understanding of mandated emissions targets. This is important for several reasons. Not only do you need to know what targets your facilities need to hit now but it will give you a better idea of where you’ll need to improve in the future. This information will aid in the design of a facility, as well as in the construction process (which we’ll get to later). Understanding emissions targets can also save your project money as governments around the world are providing grants to operating companies who meet or exceed emissions targets.
Whether operating a new or existing pipeline facility, one of the easiest things you can do to cut back on GHGs is to eliminate fugitive emissions. Fugitive emission are emissions lost due to inefficient infrastructure, such as leaks from valves, seals, gauges, or hoses. This might seem rudimentary, but you’d be surprised by the amount of fugitive emissions lost due to gaps in maintenance.
Another way that operators are reducing the carbon footprint of their pipeline facilities is by transitioning to electric valves.
In the past, pipelines were predominantly driven by gas-actuated valves. No more. Heading forward, the electric actuation of valves is an attractive option for operators seeking to cut back on GHGs. Why? Because it can contribute to emissions reduction on a per-use basis. Every time a valve is actuated via electricity, rather than gas, we are reducing the carbon footprint.
One of the best ways to reduce GHG emissions at pipeline facilities is maximize the recovery of vapor and waste heat. Vapor refers to the vent gas emitted from tanks and storage. If we can capture that vapor, rather than let be released into the atmosphere, we can use it to generate electricity.
The same is true for waste heat. By converting that heat into energy, operators can use it to electrify their facilities at lower costs. In some cases, operators can even direct some of that energy back to the grid to help power nearby communities.
We are always looking for ways to deliver the most efficient projects for our clients and the communities they serve.
Whether designing a new pipeline facility or retrofitting an existing one, a key method of reducing GHGs is using renewable energy wherever possible. This can include electrifying pipeline valves with solar panels, supporting pipeline facilities with wind turbines, or blending hydrogen with fuels to reduce emissions. In optimal settings, all three methods are possible and can work together to greatly reduce the energy required from fossil fuel sources.
One of the most overlooked angles of reducing the carbon footprint of a pipeline facility is the construction process—it needs to be part of your environmental planning.
Why? Because the emissions created during construction are included in the overall carbon footprint. By designing a project with the construction process in mind, pipeline operators can reduce several threats to the environment. Let’s look at some examples below:
We are all on the same journey toward a more sustainable future—every industry needs to buy into the process if we hope to reach our 2050 targets. The Oil & Gas sector is no different. By rethinking engineering and construction, we can help deliver high-efficiency projects for pipeline operators.
Again, we are not going to be able to build a 100% sustainable future overnight. But we can take appropriate actions now to reduce GHGs and minimize our carbon footprint for future generations, one step at a time.