EPA Cuts and Digital Tools Bring Methane Mitigation to Natural Gas Pipelines

EPA Cuts and Digital Tools Bring Methane Mitigation to Natural Gas Pipelines


EPA Cuts and Digital Tools Bring Methane Mitigation to Natural Gas Pipelines

Calling for new ways to reduce methane emissions from crude oil and natural gas sources, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is continuing to spur methane mitigation across all segments of the oil and gas (O&G) value chain. The EPA's newly proposed rules are targeting methane mitigation in previously unregulated areas, such as natural gas wellheads, compressor stations, and all pipelines from production to distribution. Read on to learn how EPA proposals to reduce methane emissions from natural gas pipelines are also spurring the widespread adoption of innovative digital tools for improving methane mitigation in O&G.  

Why Is EPA Targeting O&G Methane Mitigation?

Working to advance President Biden's recent commitments to climate change action, the EPA is proposing new Clean Air Act protections to reduce methane emissions from the O&G industry. Methane is the primary component of natural gas and is one of the more devastating greenhouse gases in our atmosphere. According to the EPA, roughly one-third of methane pollution in the U.S. comes from O&G, prompting new proposals for greater methane mitigation efforts across both new and existing sources.  

Legacy Methods of Detecting Leaks in Natural Gas Pipelines

The supply chain for natural gas production includes a vast network of pipelines, all of which may leak and release dangerous emissions of methane and other pollutants into the air. There are three categories of pipelines, including:  
  • Gathering - Connecting wellheads to central tank batteries, compressor stations, and/or processing facilities
  • Transmission - High-pressure, large-diameter pipelines carrying large amounts of processed natural gas for long distances
  • Distribution - Smaller-diameter pipelines delivering natural gas to end users
  A recent report by Highwood Emissions Management finds pipeline emissions are significantly larger and pose far greater dangers than previously recognized. Legacy methods of identifying leaks include flying aircraft along right-of-ways and searching for signs of pipeline failure, such as ground disturbances and dead vegetation. They flag the areas for further inspection and then walk on foot with portable instruments, such as combustible gas indicators and organic vapor analyzers. The Highwood report assesses such legacy methods as potentially "ineffective at reliably identifying the majority of leaks."

New Tools Help Reduce Methane Emissions From Pipelines

New technologies, such as aircraft-mounted infrared spectrometers, increase the miles of pipelines they can inspect daily, but are not as sensitive as methane sensors mounted on drones or company vehicles. Drones offer many advantages, but flight regulations and battery life limitations represent significant obstacles. Truck-mounted sensors are also more useful than walking, but these require adequate roads and favorable conditions. Each of these systems in the end face a common challenge and that are the nearly 20 variables that impact dissipation rates of methane.  The odds of detection can increase 4x to 10x at night versus the middle of the day simply due to solar radiation. Wind direction, wind speed, ambient temperature all can change in seconds and all can adversely affect detection capabilities.   Ultimately, intelligent pipelines fitted with pervasive IoT-connected smart sensors broadcasting GPS location, environmental data and other relevant data to a cloud analytics solution and to intrinsically safe smart devices offer the best digital solution for detecting, monitoring, and mitigating pipeline leaks.  

Aegex Digitization Tools Offer Leading-Edge Solutions

With a full spectrum of digitization tools purpose-built for Zone1 environments, Aegex Technologies offers leading-edge solutions for all aspects of O&G operations. Using aegex10 intrinsically safe tablets in tandem with NexVu IoT sensors simplifies methane mitigation. Doing so harnesses the power of artificial intelligence to capture and analyze fully customizable physical and environmental data.   Aegex digitalization tools empower O&G personnel with a full suite of Windows10 enterprise-class apps that offer state-of-the-art solutions for data-driven decision-making, asset management, leak detection and repair (LDAR), secure communication, and so much more.  

The Growing Need to Reduce Methane Emissions

"Addressing methane leakage from pipelines has come into sharp focus," notes American Oil & Gas Reporter, quoting from the Highwood report. "This shift has been driven by learning from new measurement campaigns and a growing need to reduce methane loss from the entire supply chain to mitigate climate change, improve carbon accounting, and enable the demonstration of responsibly sourced gas."   If your organization's focus is shifting to methane mitigation, Aegex digitization tools offer cost-effective solutions. Contact us for more information on our leading-edge digital tools and solutions to reduce methane emissions.