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The Sustainability Sessions spotlights action-oriented companies that pave the way towards more sustainable futures. Using cutting-edge solutions at all stages of the value chain, GLJ’s virtual presenters outline how their organizations actively support companies to reach ESG and sustainability targets and reduce emissions.
Unlocking Lower Emissions with Production Optimization
When production optimization is implemented at scale, it provides E&P operators the opportunity to achieve more efficient operations, greater visibility and control, and lower operating costs. Another positive impact is lower greenhouse gas emissions. Unfortunately, those benefits are not always available with today’s legacy production optimization solutions.
The good news is that digital oilfield technologies (DOF) and physics models built for horizontal wells can help operators access lower emissions. As the focus continues to be on getting the most out of producing wells for less across all phases of the well lifecycle, the opportunity to embrace DOF to optimize production can yield the desired environmental impacts.
Greenhouse Gases and Emissions in the O&G Industry
When focusing on greenhouse gases and emissions in the energy industry, there are three that garner the most attention – carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH₄), and nitrous oxide (N₂O).
While CO2 is typically used as the baseline for discussing radiative effect, trapping heat versus releasing heat into the atmosphere, the impact of methane at equal volumes is far greater. The International Energy Agency (IEA), an autonomous intergovernmental organization that works with countries around the world to shape energy policies for a secure and sustainable future, According to their findings, methane emissions are the second-largest cause of global warming today and accounts for 43% of the oil and gas sector’s greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, their study found that unconventional gas wells vented a greater volume of methane versus other sources of emissions in the oil and gas industry. The heat map of the US below reinforces the strong correlation between methane emissions and the location of U.S. basins.
Over the past several years, the oil and gas industry has adopted initiatives to meaningfully impact emissions reduction. As an example, the industry announced the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative (OGCI), which is a CEO-led consortium that aims to accelerate the energy industry’s response to climate change. The companies that comprise the group include major players like BP, Chevron, Equinor, ExxonMobil, Shell, and others. These companies represent approximately 30% of global oil and gas production and collectively OGCI has more than $1 billion in funds to invest in technology and projects that accelerate decarbonization in oil and gas, industry, and commercial transport.
Opportunities for Emissions Mitigation
As E&P companies start to think more proactively about their impact on the environment, there are several approaches they can take to reduce emissions including:
Implementing internal corporate programs and initiatives that require a proactive approach to recognizing the company’s carbon footprint and setting goals to reducing emissions.
Statistics show that up to 30% of all gas is flared primarily because there's a lack of pipeline and gas facilities infrastructure to store and transport it. Increasing infrastructures could help to reduce flaring as a contributor to emissions. Not surprisingly, this approach can be quite costly and the negative impact on the bottom-line can be a deterrent.
In this case, recovery is defined as catching or collecting emissions rather than releasing them into the atmosphere.
Operators can take a proactive maintenance approach by replacing parts before they fail as a means to stymie emissions releases before they start. Replacing compressor seals, rods, leak detection repair, and even installing new lift systems are ways of reducing emissions. Plunger lift is a good example of an artificial lift system type that has lower emissions compared to others.
Regulation tends to come in two forms - both carrot and stick. Stick is less desirable and includes fines, fees, and/or penalties. The carrot initiative is a more rewarding approach that exists by proactively incentivizing activities that can stave off the enforcement of new and potentially more rigid regulations.
Production optimization technologies allow operators to more efficiently manage large well populations ensuring maximized operations effectiveness. Leveraging the right automation technology to streamline efforts can make a significant impact in lowering greenhouse gas emissions.
Likely operators will combine several of these complementary approaches as they develop their corporate initiatives related to emissions reduction. While some of these approaches can be more costly than others, operators can take advantage of government-backed cost deferment programs like the Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF) Onshore Program. The new $675 million initiative is helping Canadian onshore companies invest in green solutions to continue their progress toward reducing methane emissions while we face the current economic crisis and COVID-19 pandemic. This program can meet up to 90% of costs with multiple projects, and additional benefits from an operational perspective.
Historically, oil and gas companies have deployed advanced technologies to enhance their oilfield operations with the focus on getting the most out of producing wells for less. The operators that have embraced digital oilfield technologies utilizing AI, gained the additional opportunity to yield reduced greenhouse gas emissions that have broader environmental and even public relations benefits.
Ambyint solutions optimize oil & gas wells by automating anomaly detection, controller setpoint recommendations, setpoint changes, and production versus plan analytics to enable real-time production optimization. The company employs advanced physics-based models, deep subject matter expertise, and artificial intelligence to deliver highly scalable and proven applications. Ambyint technologies improve production volumes and workforce efficiencies while reducing operating expenses, GHG emissions, and failure rates for mid- to large-sized operators across every major North American basin.
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