Cooper Robinson, Cap-Op Energy
Methane emissions from the oil and gas sector are a notable source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in Canada, accounting for 25% total methane emissions in 2017. The Fugitive Emissions Management Program Effectiveness Assessment (FEMP-EA) was a research study conducted to characterize spatial and temporal differences in methane emissions from oil and gas facilities subjected to leak detection and repair (LDAR) surveys through field measurements.
The study team randomly selected approximately 180 sites in the Red Deer region in Alberta to be surveyed at regular intervals between August 2018 and October 2019. The sites were split into four groups, each subject to a different frequency of LDAR survey – a control group was surveyed annually and operators were not made aware of the leaks found by the survey team, and three treatment groups, which were surveyed once, twice, and three times over a year, and the operators were provided with a list of leaks with the expectation of performing (voluntary) repair. The survey team used FLIR GF-320 optical gas imaging (OGI) cameras to detect methane emissions and Providence Photonics’ QL-320 tablet for quantification.
While the study has confirmed prior observations, and provided many new insights into methane emissions and management, the most important findings in this report are:
- Emissions are dominated by a very small number of high-emitting components (and sites).
- Fugitive emissions reduced by 22% at control sites and ranged from 42% to 77% at the three treatment groups.
- Repairs are highly effective in reducing the average number of leaks found in a subsequent LDAR survey.
- Repaired sites show more emissions reduction than non-repaired sites – the more consistent the repair, the higher the emissions reduction.
- Vents are the overall largest source of methane emissions within the study.
- Tanks are the largest single source of emissions within the study.
- Leak rates of emitting components do not grow significantly over time.
- Oil-producing single-well sites and multi-well batteries, on average, emit more than comparable gas-producing sites
- There are significant differences in average site-level emissions across operators. Operators with a larger fraction of oil-producing assets tend to have higher average emissions.
- Understanding near-term temporal variations (i.e. hourly, daily, weekly) in emissions require detailed future studies based on continuous measurement systems.