This paper addresses the main air emission categories and the future challenges that will meet the offshore oil and gas production industry.
A proactive, systematic, step-wise approach to control the emissions is proposed and described. This is an approach that has been applied by the Norwegian Oil Industry Association in its OLF Environmental Programme. The practical implementation is described and some of the results and observations are presented and discussed.
The currently applied technology for producing oil and gas from offshore installations results in three main types of gas emissions, namely;
combustion gases consisting of carbon dioxides and minor amounts of carbon monoxide, nitrous oxide, N2O, SO2 and uncombusted hydrocarbons (methane and VOC)
hydrocarbons consisting of methane and mainly aliphatic VOCs vented to atmosphere or escaping from the hydrocarbon processes through fugitive emissions
releases of halon and other CFC gases from fire fighting and refrigeration systems.
Up to quite recently, these emissions have not been subject to concern, not by the industry, nor by the governmental authorities and the public. This attitude is now in the process of being changed. The potential environmental threats of some of these gases are observed by the governments as well as the public. International conventions as well as national and local regulations are being established to control the emissions. So far, the petroleum industry has not been significantly affected, but this situation may change in the years to come.
The assumed effect of emitted CFC gases to the depletion of the stratospheric ozone layer has resulted in the Montreal Protocol (1985). The international objective to stop these emissions by phasing out the use of chlorofluorocarbons and ha Ion by the end of this century also effects the petroleum industry.
Attention has been highly focused on acid rain and smog problems over the last 20 years. The Geneva Convention through its three protocols; the Helsinki protocol (1985), the Sofia Protocol (1988), and the Geneva Protocol (1991), signed by almost all industrial countries in Europe and North America, imposes obligations on the signature nations to control and reduce their emissions of 802, NOx, and VOC. So far the convention has not resulted in any governmental control measures affecting offshore oil and gas production in the European countries, but the offshore oil and gas industries in Norway as well as The Netherlands are currently being "challenged" by their respective national authorities to reduce the emission of NOx and VOC.