How to control fugitive emissions

How to control fugitive emissions

Christian Borrmann - 19 February 2015

Fugitive emissions can be a danger to the environment as well as the process industry but there are various technologies and products available to control these.

About the author

Mr Christian Borrmann
Christian Borrmann is the Editor-in-Chief of Valve World magazine and is the coordinator for the Valve World Conference in Europe.
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In a recent article I read that worldwide natural gas flaring annually produces 400 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions and honestly I found it was a very big number. Ok, I know that there are quite a large number of on- and off shore facilities around which flare natural gas but still I was surprised.
As you can imagine, there are a lot rules and regulations about that force oil & gas producers to stay within certain limits when it comes to fugitive emissions. These rules are made by a variety of bodies such as the Environmental Production Agency (EPA) in the USA and TA Luft in the EU.

In the text that I found, the author explains how valves and safety systems can help to control emissions by means of HIPPS. In short he explains that “HIPPS is a part of the Safety Instrumented System (SIS) and is designed to prevent overpressure by shutting off the source and capturing the pressure in the upstream side of the system, thus providing a barrier between the High Pressure and Low Pressure sides of the process plant. The tight shutoff will prevent loss of the containment and eliminate fugitive emissions. HIPPS is seen as the ‘last line of defense’”.

HIPPS is also a topic that that recently more and more crops up in various articles and conferences, together with other emission control systems. It looks like a very apt solution for controlling emissions although a variety of elements and parts have to play together in order to give users the best use of this system. The challenge for users as well as suppliers is to have the right certifications to meet the desired safety level.

The question is, why this is a challenge for users? Well, the big international end have their own regulations on top of the government departments’ ones. But the second tier companies, the national and not state-owned oil & gas producers do not have this in some cases and then they rely on the contractors to choose the right system. And it is exactly here that the valve companies step in. They can help to make HIPPS work seamlessly and in that way make the lives and working processes of EPCs (and ultimately end users) easier and safer.

So, going back to the beginning of my text and the quote about this big number, there are the official regulatory bodies that put out strict limits which companies have to comply to. On top of that there are also the various oil and gas producers, EPCs, valves and other flow control industry suppliers that have their own control strategies for reducing or even preventing emissions in order to get that fresh air!

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