Air dispersion and deposition modelling is an accepted mathematical technique to predict and quantify impacts to ambient air quality from the petroleum industry. Mainstream, established dispersion models are also used to determine appropriate stack heights for stationary equipment such as heaters, turbines and flares, as well as support the selection of emission controls or ‘abatement’.

Atmospheric modelling of industrial emissions are not commonly assessed for distances over 50km, beyond which many ‘off the shelf’ modelling systems provide limited accuracy. Factors that are important for long range transport modelling include variability of weather conditions within the area being simulated, and chemical and physical processes that may affect the concentration of the pollutant under investigation.

For regional scale modelling, a good description of the evolution in time and space of a particle or puff over distances of hundreds to thousands of km's is important. For modelling on this scale, the only realistic approach is to use detailed numerical weather prediction or analyses data; for simulations on a local scale it is often justified to use site or area-specific measurement data or even assumed, simplified weather conditions.

Regional scale modelling systems are often used to look at national and international transportation of airborne particles and gases released into the atmosphere. The list of potential applications is long and varied, but this type of system can be used to:

  • Back-trace sources of pollution experienced at a site or region

  • Identify long-range impacts of localised emergency or disaster scenarios

  • Perform regional impact assessment studies

Within this paper, the author discusses the application of Regional Scale Transportation Modelling Systems and, in particular, potential uses within the petroleum industry. This paper also includes a discussion, with a supporting case study, around the application of regional modelling techniques not commonly seen within the Middle East petroleum industry.

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