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
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
BY CARMEN GRAHAM
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
"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
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
"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
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.
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
"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