Development of Novel Method to Detect and Locate Fugitive Emissions

Matthew Johnson, Carleton University
GL 910351

Eliminating fugitive emissions in the oil and gas industry requires detailed knowledge of leak sources
among the innumerable flanges, fittings, valves, and other equipment infrastructure within complex
facilities. In most industrial facilities, fugitive emissions are extremely difficult and labour intensive to
detect and locate. Furthermore, once a source of fugitive emissions has been identified and repaired, it
is also very difficult to confirm on an on going basis that emissions are not reoccurring from the same
location or that new sources of emissions are not appearing. A variety of approaches are currently used
to identify fugitive emissions in industrial settings, however most involve deploying teams of personnel
with infrared cameras or other hand-held gas detection devices to manually search through a plant
environment and detect leaks/emissions. This type of approach has the obvious disadvantages of being
labour intensive, costly, and time-consuming, and in particular, is not well suited for continuous
monitoring. Other approaches involve using laser-based optical methods at plant boundaries to
quantify or estimate total fugitive emissions crossing plant borders. In addition to being costly, these
approaches do not offer a way to precisely locate sources of emissions within the plant environment,
but rather give a broad estimate of what emissions are generally leaving the plant site. To tap the
significant emissions reduction potential known to exist in the petroleum industry, it is essential to
develop innovative approaches for fugitive emissions detection at the facility level that can provide
engineers and plant personnel with timely and specific information necessary to enable specific
reduction measures. The project is broken down into three interrelated component projects, that are
introduced below and discussed in the Chapters that follow.