Celebrated every June 5, World Environment Day is a holiday that aims to reconnect people with nature, while educating them about environmental issues – such as CO2 emissions. In the International Energy Agency (IEA) report, “CO2 Emissions from Fuel Combustion Highlights,” it was estimated that the energy sector is responsible for more than 40% of global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.
Gas flaring is one of the primary contributors to industrial emissions from the sector, and while gas is often flared for safety reasons, a large proportion is still flared as the main method of disposal for facilities that do not have the infrastructure to capture, transport and monetise it. Based on satellite data, it is estimated more than 150 billion cubic metres (or 5.3 trillion cubic feet) of natural gas is released into the atmosphere each year through natural gas flaring and cold flaring (venting) operations.
In the last five years the industry has made significant moves to reduce emissions, implementing IoT and cloud technologies to accurately collect emissions information and legislation to curb emissions heavy processes.
Taking the initiative
Support is growing for initiatives such as the World Bank’s Zero Routine Flaring (ZRF) to reduce the oil and gas sector’s combined routine carbon emissions. Launched in April 2015 with 25 endorsers, the ZRF initiative brings governments, oil companies and development institutions together to work toward eliminating routine gas flaring by 2030.
Signatories to ZRF have committed to eliminating flaring within existing operations, ensuring new sites incorporate gas utilisation solutions that avoid routine gas flaring or venting and publicly report flaring volumes on an annual basis.
IoT and emissions measuring
Historically, recording and sharing emissions data would have involved recording the volume of gas flared locally and sharing data on a periodic basis. However, connected measurement technology means that now this information can be monitored and measured in real time through secure hosting in the cloud.
By using cloud technology to record gas flaring, companies can build a better picture of trends over time and use this insight to drive new emissions strategies. For example, on an offshore oil rig where flaring may only happen after certain maintenance procedures, real-time data can provide insight to more effectively manage the flaring process – reducing the amount of wasted gas. Over an extended period of time organisations will begin to see patterns emerging that enable them to more effectively predict which rigs will flare more gas than others.
Flaring may be largely used for the safe disposal of excess natural gas, but the burning process is damaging the environment. Measuring flare gas is important for reducing environmental impact but is one of the most challenging types of gas flow measurement. Fluenta’s ultrasonic flare gas meter provides accurate emissions information for reporting and helps companies to manage their gas flaring processes – knowing how much natural gas they burn and when this can be restricted. While traditional industries have been slow to realise the potential in technology, the energy sector is finally understanding the role it can play in restricting environmental damage from oil and gas processes.