Abstract

Operators in the Marcellus Shale are constantly looking for ways to reduce potential emissions from production facilities. As regulations and various industry best practices evolve, facility designs and equipment must evolve as well. Examined are facilities design improvements and successful operational procedures to eliminate or significantly reduce emissions.

By taking a proactive approach, operators can reduce emissions significantly. The key elements to a successful emissions reduction program include: (1) a facilities design and operational philosophy that takes emission controls into consideration, (2) a comprehensive maintenance program that addresses all unplanned or unintended releases encountered during optical gas imaging inspections that allows for feedback to facilitate corrective action, and (3) a focused plan for improving technology to diminish the quantity of future leaks and general emissions. Applying enhanced technology, and lessons learned to older designs is often the most efficient measure for reducing potential emissions. While these elements are crucial, equally important is the historical defining and tracking of actual identified leaks and documentation of corrective actions that have been taken.

A field study produced data essential to understanding the emissions released on a field and pad level and set a foundation for a regular, semi-annual inspection protocol. Using detailed data analysis resulting from inspections, the most common areas where leaks occur within production facilities are identified. Specifically, the majority of repetitive leaks occur on atmospheric production stock tanks. By installing enhanced quality tank relief valves, the vast majority of emissions are eliminated. This is supported by a discussion of improvements to reduce emissions from tank equipment. Field data demonstrates that the implementation of a leak detection program reduces the number of actual leaks over time and allows for a sustainable, cost-effective maintenance program. This is evident on a pad and field level.

Production facility emissions can be mitigated utilizing effective production facility designs and technologies. The present work offers an improved understanding of how technological evolutions can support effective design solutions and processes in a modern shale gas development.

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