NGL, Condensate Recovery Opportunities
While the shale boom continues to drive record levels of U.S. oil and gas production growth, new federal regulations rolled out to control related emissions—which initially faced firm resistance from some stakeholders—may in fact be the key to unlocking new revenue streams.
Growth Draws Attention to Emissions
It’s no news that U.S. natural gas is booming. And record natural gas output has been matched by equally remarkable growth in tight oil production, which, like natural gas, has been driven by new horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing advances.
As these markets have grown, so too have concerns over related emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including toxic compounds responsible for known health issues and potent greenhouse gases—all of which are released to some degree during flaring and venting processes, as well as through accidental releases.
Collectively referred to as ‘fugitive gas’, the volume of releases has grown in tandem with overall production growth in both oil and gas markets.
Why Flare or Vent Gas?
Flaring refers to the process of burning off unwanted or potentially hazardous natural gas streams during the course of oil and gas exploration, production and processing operations. Gas may be flared for a variety of reasons and may occur both at oil and gas production sites and at gas processing plants.
A temporary flare is often used upon well completion during testing and early production. Flaring can also be needed to relieve dangerous overpressure conditions that can build up during production and processing. And flaring may also be called for during unexpected process interruptions or during equipment updates or maintenance.
In recent years, notable increases in flaring have occurred at the hands of oil producers who have considered gas a negligible by-product of tight oil production—treating it like any other waste product that needs to be eliminated; and at the hands of gas producers, particularly in areas where pipeline and infrastructure expansion have not kept pace with production. Referred to as ‘nonmarketed gas’ by the Energy Information Association (EIA), the bulk of remote, ‘stranded’ gas is flared.
EPA Takes Action
In response, on August 16th, 2012, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) unveiled final updates to new air regulations aimed at reducing harmful related VOCs by as much as 95%.
Regulations include New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 40, Part 60, Subpart OOOO in addition to National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAPS) Subpart HH, Oil and Natural Gas Production; and NESHAPS Subpart HHH, Natural Gas Transmission and Storage
NSPS OOOO, also referred to as ‘Quad O’, applies to all new, modified or reconstructed emissions sources while NESHAPAS standards apply to both new and existing sources—where sources are defined to include well completions, storage vessels, pneumatics, compressors, and leak detection and repair (LDAR) from gas gathering through processing, storage, transmission and distribution.
Prior to January 1st, 2015, regulations generally require that producers maximize gas recovery and minimize releases. After January 1st, 2015, regulations dictate that all salable quality gas must captured for use or routed to the gas flow line, instead of being flared to the atmosphere.
Managing a Regulatory Liability - for Profit
As producers move towards capturing natural gas instead of releasing it, potential financial benefits are becoming apparent and a host of new and existing technologies are gaining recognition for supporting the capture and handling of fugitive gas.
Gases that are vented and flared generally contain a mixture of crude oil and/or methane, natural gas liquids (NGLs) and other condensates. While capturing and transporting these outputs has in fact been possible for some time, it was not deemed economically desirable for wells located far from the vicinity of pipelines and refineries.
However, today’s advanced technologies combined with the current high value of NGLs are changing that equation. As an example, new, portable solutions—that can be easily delivered to remote wellheads can not only readily capture fugitive natural gas, but can also process it—on-site.
Separated methane can be put to immediate use, powering on site field equipment in place of diesel fuel, offering significant savings both in fuel and related transportation costs. And valuable NGLs can be separated, filled into storage vessels, and easily transported to markets by truck, rail and marine transportation.
“Gas recovery operations pay for themselves,” said Britt Medley, President of TransTech Energy, “Investments in flare gas recovery, NGL capture systems and related equipment can be recouped in a very short period of time. And new modular NGL storage systems to support the these recovery and capture technologies give producers the flexibility to plan for any amount of liquids capture needed—and increase or reduce capacity, as called for. Our modular NGL storage skids are quickly deployed with minimal field service intervention and can be easily repurposed as needed, reducing deployment costs by as much as 75%.”
Scalable, Modular NGL Storage
TransTech Energy offers portable, skid-mounted NGL storage systems to capture and store valuable NGLs in 18,000, 30,000 and 60,000 gallon tank sizes. Optional features include controls and metering, integrated liquid pump or compressor as well as a range of instrumentation and automation options for enhanced system monitoring and control. Learn more here.
Turnkey, pre-built NGL storage skids are also available in capacities of up to 30,000 gallons and include built-in bulkhead for both transport/bobtail operations as well as optional integrated liquid pump, metering and electronic controls. Learn more here.
Contact us today for fast-ship, standard configurations—or let us custom design and fabricate a skid mounted system to your exact specifications - (+1) 888.206.4563
Purchase, rental and lease options are available and for sites that need to scale, we offer staged fabrication and delivery of your units as needed.