Hidden Benefits in Greenhouse Gas Reporting Rules

I chatted briefly with Emerson’s Patrick Truesdale when he was in Austin the other day. You may recall Patrick from several energy efficiency-related posts. He shared with me that he had a couple of presentations that he’d be giving at Automation Week in Houston, during the first full week of October. I asked if I could get a sneak peak to share some highlights with folks who read this blog. I’ll highlight one of his papers, De-mystifying GHG Monitoring and Reporting–Achieve Benefits from Compliance, in this post.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) new Greenhouse Gas Mandatory Reporting Rules (GHG MRR), also known as 40 CFR 98, came into effect on January 1st of this year and impact more than 10,000 U.S. manufacturing facilities. In Patrick’s presentation, he stresses the economic benefits, which can be recognized through improved measurement, accuracy, calibration, maintenance, and recordkeeping.

Some statistics he cites from Methane to Markets’ United States Oil and Natural Gas Country Profile are quite eye opening. The methane (CH4) emission losses for 2003 were 353 billion cubic feet (Bcf) for the oil and gas industry and 148Bcf for the production sector. 61Bcf were emissions from pneumatic devices alone.

At current prices around $7 USD / 1 mmBtu, these total emissions represent $2.5 trillion USD. And, by the EPA’s carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e), 1 methane unit is equivalent to 21 CO2 units. Patrick notes that this also translates into 145,000,000 metric tons (mT) of CO2e greenhouse gas emissions.

Oil & gas producers, refiners, and transporters can reduce these emissions with minor improvements in several areas. Patrick believes 20% can be reduced through the switch of high-bleed pneumatic devices to low or no-bleed devices, improved pump seals, meter flange gaskets, and valve packing. This 20% reduction translates into $500 million USD and 29,000,000 mT less CO2e. To put the emissions reduction in context, it is equivalent to the annual emissions output of 10 medium refineries.

Patrick points to technologies emerging to assist with loss control, energy efficiency, and better measurement. These include smart instrumentation with advanced diagnostics, meter verification diagnostics, wireless instruments, low- and no-bleed packing, and vapor recovery units.

Beyond the capture of energy for sale or fuel consumption, these measurements can improve business loss control processes through real-time mass and energy balances, and the establishment of key performance indicators (KPIs). Processes that have been optimized to reduce energy consumption also run with less variability and typically have fewer unplanned shutdowns. Each of these improvements translates into lower operating costs or increased revenues.

Patrick spends quite a bit of time with the regulations and how they affect process manufacturers. If your plant is one of the 10,000+ impacted by these regulations, and if you plan to attend Automation Week, Patrick’s talk may be well worth your time. Also, if you’re at the Emerson Exchange during the week prior (Sep 27-Oct 1), you can connect with Patrick and folks from the Emerson Climate Technologies team at the greenhouse gas solutions booth in the exhibition area.

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