Ways to Reduce Fugitive Emissions with Your Pipelines
It’s no secret that fugitive emissions are concerning for the world. This means it’s important to understand how to best reduce them. Read more here.
The fight against drastic climate change – via the reduction of fugitive emissions – has become a top priority in today’s economy. Fugitive emissions have become a great health concern globally due to their adverse impact on productivity and the environment.
According to the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), up to 45 percent of the total methane emissions originate from the production section of the oil and natural gas industry.
This article discusses what fugitive emissions are, the importance of maintenance and quality of parts, as well as several ways of minimizing fugitive emissions from pipelines.
What are Fugitive Emissions?
Fugitive emissions refer to unintentional leaks discharged from sealed surfaces such as gaskets and packings. Faulty connections or corrosion can also bring about leaks from underground pipelines.
These emissions could not pass through a chimney, vent, stack, or any other functionally equivalent opening.
Examples of fugitive emissions as well as fugitive emission sources include:
- Storage piles
- Fine particles
- Releases or leaks from pumps, flanges, compressors, valves, etc.
The Importance of Maintenance and Quality of Parts
As mentioned earlier, most of the fugitive emissions originate from connectors and valves. They are the most predominant components and usually number in the thousands.
The major cause of emissions from these connectors and valves is gasket or seal failure that results from improper maintenance or normal wear. This is why the importance of maintenance and quality of parts cannot be overstated.
When high-quality materials or parts are used when installing connectors, valves, etc., it ensures that the entire project’s outcome will be of excellent quality. Using high-quality parts and putting proper maintenance in place ensures the longevity and safety of the system within a production outfit.
Research shows that companies use low-quality products for areas such as gaskets, valves, and connectors in many cases.
Many components/parts are made by manufacturing companies that are not held to the stringent safety codes that others adhere to. This eventually leads to the breakdown or failure of such components within a short period, and fugitive emissions occur.
Some industries stick to using lower quality parts due to the following:
- They want to keep the price of the product down:
- They do not employ a strong process discipline:
- They fail to understand the true cost of quality:
Ways to Minimize Fugitive Emissions Along Your Pipeline
Now that you know the overall importance of maintenance and quality of parts, here are some ways you can bring down fugitive emissions along your pipeline:
- Ensure Every Valve is Correctly Installed
Valves are the primary focus when it comes to the reduction of fugitive emissions. This is because valve leakage is responsible for over half of the total fugitive emission occurrences reported.
Moreover, technicians are often called out to job sites in order to diagnose valve leakage issues. In most cases, they discover that some of the valves were incorrectly installed.
For instance, the discharge piping may put its entire weight on the valve, or the valve is installed horizontally, etc. Proper installation of valves by experienced technicians can help stem fugitive emissions.
- Replace Outdated or Old Valves with Brand-New Ones
Most of the old valves in use today were not fabricated with the latest technologies and materials. This is why it is important to inspect and test the valves from time to time in order to readily identify which ones may give rise to the highest fugitive emissions.
This information reveals where to channel your resources for repairs or replacement of old valves with new ones as soon as possible.
- Keep Tabs On the Entire System for Leaks
Any part of a system can spring a leak. Research shows that most methane leaks are not due to faulty equipment but several highly unpredictable factors, including valves that get stuck open, etc.
This has led many experts to guess precisely how often and where these leaks could happen, etc. Thanks to new and emerging technologies, experts can now focus on more reliable methods of detecting leaks.
- Adhere Strictly to a Valve Preventative Maintenance Schedule
At times, leakages still occur despite replacing old valves with new ones made with the latest technologies and materials. This is usually attributed to the poor maintenance cultures that many companies adopt today.
Therefore, create and adhere strictly to a highly preventative maintenance schedule that will help you spot and prevent small problems before they transform into big ones.
- Substitute Every High-Bleed Pneumatic Instruments with Low-Bleed
Pneumatic devices are usually employed for controlling pressure and liquid levels and operating valves in the gas industry. This is why the EPA suggests that up to 80 percent of high-bleed devices should be retrofitted or replaced completely. Minimizing gas-bleed losses more than makes up for the cost of implementation within a year.
- Pumps and Flanges Should Be Inspected Thoroughly
Although valves account for a considerable percentage of fugitive emissions in the gas industry, pumps and flanges also contribute their quota.
Research shows that up to 15 percent of fugitive emissions originate from pumps and flanges. Therefore, one of the easiest – and cost-effective – ways of minimizing fugitive emissions is by tightening all pipe flanges.
The companies should also strive to meet all emissions compliance by readily installing flexible, low emissions valve packing. This type of packing does not absorb moisture and will never shrink.
- Enforce a DI&M (Directed Inspection and Maintenance) Program at All Compressor Stations
Compressor stations on gas pipelines have been identified as one of the primary sources of fugitive emissions.
A directed and inspection maintenance program involves performing a baseline survey in order to spot and quantify leaks. This is usually followed almost immediately – and strictly – by a highly cost-effective repair program.
According to the EPA, gas savings from implementing a directed inspection and maintenance program ends up paying for the entire costs of installation within 2 to 4 months, max.
Fugitive emissions will continue to be a huge concern due to the health hazards they pose. Therefore, it is vitally important to significantly reduce the potential for leaks as much as possible, including the use of high-quality parts and proper maintenance.
Moreover, swift detection and correction are key when leaks occur due to negligence, error, or faulty parts. When these are in place, the health concerns that fugitive emissions pose will be greatly minimized.
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