Abstract

Operators in unconventional shales are constantly looking for ways to reduce potential emissions from production facilities. This is especially challenging in liquids-rich regions, such as the Marcellus Shale, which is highlighted. 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.1 

By taking a proactive approach, operators can reduce emissions significantly. In review, an earlier paper (M.D. Porter et. al., 2016) discussed the key elements to a successful program: (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 and allows for feedback to facilitate corrective action, and (3) a focused plan for improving technology to diminish the quantity of future leaks. 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.1 This paper further corroborates these key elements.

Additional facility designs for maximum emissions reduction will be compared to facility designs in the previous work using calculated emissions for each scenario. As well production increases from drilling longer laterals and enhanced stimulation practices, well site liquids handling and vapor control can become challenging. Techniques for effectively controlling vapors and mitigating emissions are explored in detail using an actual case study. Also, a previous leak detection field study with preliminary data is updated with additional years of data, which yields further clarification of emissions released on a field and pad level and resulting variations with time. Using detailed data analysis resulting from inspections, the most common areas where leaks occur within a production facility area are identified - the majority of which are located on atmospheric stock tanks. Data further demonstrates the effectiveness of higher quality tank relief valves for reducing fugitive leaks.

Production facility emissions can be managed 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.1 

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