Terri-Jane Yuzda

Grande Prairie Company Eliminates
Flaring for Some Projects

Industry Takes Notice of Portable System that Compresses and Reintroduces Gas to Pipelines


Zero Flaring Eases Landowner Concerns

Companies often look to flaring as a means to dispose of excess sour gas. When they seek a permit to flare, however, they often face challenges from nearby landowners, concerned that there may be implications for their health and the environment.

With the assistance of reciprocating compression provided by Emission Control International Inc., however, the H2S is reintroduced into a pipeline, which averts emissions of sulphur dioxide and makes many landowners more comfortable with petroleum companies working in their backyard.

Allan Seredynski, P.Eng., senior staff engineer with Nexen Petroleum Canada's gas operations in the Calgary area, says that when his company discusses its planned activities with landowners, it routinely includes information about Emission Control's zero flaring technology and how it will be used if an appropriate gas gathering pipeline is located nearby.

In areas of higher population density, zero flaring is a particularly attractive option. As a component of Suncor Energy Inc.'s operations around Grande Prairie, the technology was used on a section of pipeline with nearly 400 nearby residents.
"It's definitely beneficial in the high profile areas. These areas have a lot of ranchers, hobby farms and acreages," says Dean Freeman, a production foreman with Suncor.

For some companies, using the technology can mean the difference between success and a project being red-lighted because of powerful opposition.

Emission Control's Brent Rheaume, P.Eng., says zero flaring has made projects possible for companies such as Hunt Oil, which has operations in the Pincher Creek area.

"Residents were just objecting to drilling because they knew that subsequent development and well operations would likely entail flaring," says Mr. Rheaume.
"What that's done for Hunt Oil, number one, is they're getting drilling licenses uncontested now. And the residents are saying, 'We're happy you're coming through on your promises'."

Although in some cases there may be an increased cost to producers for using this environmentally friendly flaring alternative, many companies believe the investment is valuable. "There's definitely a cost associated, but it's worth it to prevent flaring," says Mr. Freeman.

The Complete Package
Emission Control's system is portable and adaptable. It could represent a whole new approach for an industry that needs to elminate flaring as much as possible

Freelance Writer

Flaring sends sulphur dioxide into the atmosphere, it's unpopular with the public - and it's a necessary evil in the gas industry. But that last part isn't true in every potential flaring situation, thanks to the safe and clean alternative a Grande Prairie engineer has created and put to work.

Brent Rheaume, P.Eng., president of Emission Control International Inc., has turned conventional reciprocating compression technology into an environmentally friendly and adaptable alternative to flaring. The technology is flexible enough to be applied in even the most challenging of terrains, as long as the job site is near a pipeline.
"We provide a portable means of compression that can capture gas, compress it and reintroduce it to a pipeline," says Mr. Rheaume.

A Changing Industry
Mr. Rheaume developed the system while working as an operations engineer on the producer side of the business. At that time, Mr. Rheaume often dealt with flaring and the public reaction it generates.

"The real focus for me was a kind of merge of somebody with some technical ability and seeing where the industry was headed in terms of Guide 60," he says. Guide 60 is the Alberta Energy and Utilities Board document that sets out Alberta's requirements and expectations for upstream petroleum industry flaring.

With the assistance of two minority partners with backgrounds in the fabrication industry, Mr. Rheaume advanced his idea in the year 2000, developing a portable device capable of eliminating both flaring and venting.

Industry has taken notice. Emission Control worked on a project in the Grande Prairie area for Devon Canada Corporation, which saw 15 kilometres of six- and 10-inch pipe evacuated over two days. Mr. Rheaume's technology prevented the flaring of 12 tonnes of sulphur dioxide, the equivalent of six tonnes of sulphur.

"It's just the next step to take in reducing SO2 emissions, conserving gas and alleviating resident concerns with sour gas flaring," says Allan Seredynski, P.Eng., senior staff cngineer for Nexen Petroleum Canada. The company has chosen to use the Emission Control technology whenever a pipeline is located nearby as part of its ongoing commitment to product stewardship and the managing principles of Responsible Care.

Dean Freeman, a production foreman with Suncor Energy Inc., says the technology has been particularly useful in his company's Manir Fields and Sinclair Field near Grande Prairie, during turnaround projects. Suncor has also used Emission Control's equipment to assist in well testing and determining well deliverability.

Permit Process Unnecessary
Not only is the compression technology effective in capturing all the gas, it eliminates the permit process for flaring, which can be difficult and time consuming. "It's much more efficient," says Mr. Freeman.

Adds Mr. Rheaume: "It's getting more technical all the time because people have to deal with these issues (environmental and residential) before they can acquire a permit to do the flaring."

Emission Control is able to capture sour gas with high concentrations of H2S and SO2, and typically the jobs don't take any longer than manual flaring.

"We can provide low-pressure capture of flash gas and reintroduce it to the pipeline," says Mr. Rheaume. "I basically over-designed so the unit can capture a wide range of applications. There could be a lot of jobs where we're really only using 25 to 50 per cent of the capability of the machine, but then you're able to do that and catch the jobs that are more challenging, too."

Henry Wolfs, drilling manager with Hunt Oil Company of Canada, has been using Emission Control's technology since September 2002. It's been most beneficial in the Hunt Waterton and Hunt Burmis fields, where completions were done more efficiently and without resident concerns about flaring.

"It really helps with reducing the amount of flaring you're doing," says Mr. Wolfs.
He sees using the equipment as an economical alternative to flaring. "The amount of gas we saved paid for the use of the equipment."

Hunt Oil has also been commended by the EUB for its use of the zero flaring technology.

Incineration Replacement
The technology is not only an alternative to flaring; it can also replace incineration. In those situations, the client receives the added economic benefit of not needing incinerator fuel.

"This type of compression can be more cost effective than incineration and actually eliminates emissions, unlike incinerators, which simply disguise or hide the effects of burning H2S," says Mr. Rheaume.

Whatever the need, Emission Control must be tailored to each project. Prior to accepting a contract, Mr. Rheaume does a technical review, evaluates the conditions the client is looking for and then adapts his technology to meet requirements.

When a job is completed and the Emission Control equipment needs to be disconnected, the compressor evacuates the contents to zero gauge pressure so his four-employee team can safely move it to the next site.

And there are plenty of next sites. Although Mr. Rheaume still does some consulting, his zero emissions technology is taking more and more of his time. That's because, he says, it's opened doors for jobs where until now flaring was the only reasonable option.

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