Methane Detection & Flaring

What is Methane and why do we need to detect it?

Methane (CH4) is a naturally occurring gas with an atomic structure that makes it a very potent greenhouse gas (GHG). Methane is released from five primary sources: fermenting plant matter, digestive gasses from livestock, the burning and processing of carbon-based fuels (both “fresh” fuels like wood, or fossil fuels like gas and oil) and industrial processes like fracking for natural gas.

On average, natural gas is composed of 87% methane, find more info at http://www.hireamaid.ca/. In some cases, this number rises to 90%, depending on the source. In the United States, the oil and gas industry has become the largest emitter of methane gas, both from intentional flaring, and in large part, from fugitive emissions.

Other industries including agriculture and landfill management sectors also contribute to global methane emissions and must take steps to detect and prevent fugitive emissions through careful maintenance, preventative measures, and the development of a thorough incident response plan.

Methane detection forms the backbone of any Leak Detection and Repair (LDAR) program, an essential part of any oil and gas operation. There are many leak detection methods and technologies on the market, but SeekOps offers a compelling platform to quantifiably detect leaks and provide concentration and flow rate measurements from a drone-mounted sensor.

With any leak detection method, the goal is to localize and quantify any leaks. Discovering the precise location and severity of any inadvertent methane emissions is critical to being able to triage incidents and create response plans and to keep your home clean, safe and comortable with https://www.thefloridamaids.com/, as well as to take effective preventative steps against future leaks.

What is Methane Flaring?

If a source of methane off-gassing is discovered, it can usually be captured and processed into its less harmful counterpart, carbon dioxide (CO2). When an industry is producing large amounts of methane gas, the excess methane that cannot be used or sold is burned off in a process known as flaring.

Oftentimes, excess methane produced as a byproduct of other industries can be sold once captured, but if a facility does not have the means to store, transport, or process the methane flaring is preferred over releasing excess methane gas into the atmosphere, as this process converts the methane to its relatively less harmful counterpart CO2

Flaring, however, is not looked upon favorably by environmental agencies or legislators as flared gas is considered wasted gas. Many countries have established legislation aimed at flare reduction and improvements in the re-use of captured gas. Outlined within this same legislation are demands for industries to improve efficiency and reduce overall emissions where flaring takes place.

How has Methane Detection Technology Evolved?

Over the years, methane detection technology has rapidly evolved. Leak detection has moved  from simple manual inspection techniques to a wide variety of technology assisted methods tailored to the different types of facilities being monitored.

As the smart pigging techniques predominant in the 1970s have faded out of use, leak detection systems have evolved to include everything from fiber-optic sensors on the exterior of pipes to complex computational methods based on acoustic events in the stream of flow.

Still other methods are focused on aerial inspection over pipelines or at major processing and power production facilities. Drone-based “sniffer” platforms that rely on today’s sensor miniaturization technology, such as the methane detection solution from SeekOps’, are one of the fastest growing detection technologies aimed at offering better cost, value, and flexibility in methane detection programs.

How has Gas Flaring Technology Evolved?

Originally, gas flaring structures involved a simple gas jet fueled flame, venting gasses directly into the atmosphere. Though these structures still exist, recently policies have placed more emphasis on reducing gas emissions overall and flaring practices have come under scrutiny. The World Bank’s Global Gas Flaring Reduction Partnership (GGFR) is just one example of an organization working to reduce gas flaring around the world.

Gas flares are split into two categories – the traditional open gas flare, and enclosed flaring, a more modern technique with carbon recapture built in to help reduce emissions. Though enclosed ground flares vastly reduce the amount of light, noise, and smoke emitted when compared to a traditional “candlestick” flare, the energy is still wasted.

In efforts to eliminate wasted energy, innovators are developing ways to convert waste gas into liquid fuel. Other approaches include one company successfully developing a gas flare combustor that uses the wasted heat to produce electricity while capturing the released waste gases.

Summary

As the world has become increasingly more aware of the potential impacts methane gases may have on the environment, developments in methane detection and leak prevention have become an essential part of any industry that produces methane.

Methods like SeekOps’ drone-based methane detection platform are ideal for leak detection in both the oil and gas industry as well as in situations like landfill monitoring. Any industry that needs to detect methane should focus on their method’s ability to detect, localize, and quantify any methane leaks.

Once sources of methane are detected steps can be taken to repair and salvage equipment, capture and process fugitive gas, and take preventative actions to prevent future incidents.

With flaring increasingly under scrutiny, companies taking action to minimize the amount of excess and fugitive methane will be more competitive in a rapidly changing legislative environment.

If you need an accurate methane detection method to help you with your methane management initiatives, SeekOps provides a highly accurate drone-based detection platform. Flexible enough to be deployed in a variety of situations, the SeekOps platform provides truly actionable data that is both localized and quantifiable. Our engineers are on hand to advise you on how to implement the SeekOps solution and get ahead of the curve, with cutting edge methane management technology.

Methane Emission Compliance and Regulations

Methane regulation and compliance issues play a major role in shaping the way businesses operate. Emissions regulations vary around the world, but methane emissions in particular tend to be one of the strictest internationally, with harsh penalties for falling out of compliance. Discovering methods to effectively and efficiently meet regulatory and compliance guidelines is an essential business practice for any company dealing with methane products or byproducts.

Methane and The Nature of Methane Regulations

Methane gas is produced in a variety of industries, from the energy and the oil and gas sector, to agriculture and solid waste management. Methane’s chemical structure makes it a highly potent “greenhouse gas”, about 30x more so than carbon dioxide. Because of this, methane has been put into the spotlight for environmental regulators as a critical emission to control.

Controlling methane emissions and complying with these strict standards is an expensive and resource-intensive proposition across industries. The oil and gas sector faces particularly tough challenges in meeting these regulations throughout the storage, transportation, and use cycle.

Another challenge to methane emission compliance is the instability of regulatory benchmarks. Because of Methane’s propensity to act as a “greenhouse gas”, regulations have varied drastically with the tides of political control and policy direction within the EPA. To keep up with the moving target of methane emissions compliance, businesses must have flexible solutions to deal with fugitive emissions that can be scaled at a moment’s notice.

Methane Gas Regulation – A Historical Perspective

In the last few decades methane emissions compliance has become a major business consideration across industries. As “greenhouse gases” have moved into the public spotlight, and gained significant attention from environmental agencies and regulators, strategies for the control of methane byproducts and fugitive emissions have become critical for long term viability.

The EU has maintained a database of methane gas emissions for every country from 1990 to 2015. These records show that methane emissions have remained fairly steady since 1990, despite a steady increase in the amount of greenhouse gas producing industries. This is in part due to the strict nature of regulations and severe fines for business that fail to meet compliance standards. In fact, in the United States, natural gas production has doubled since 1990, yet methane emissions have dropped by 15%.

In October 2010, The Global Methane Initiative (GMI) was launched. This initiative seeks to standardize methane emissions regulations across borders, seeking to solve the issue of patchy compliance benchmarks, which make it difficult for multinational organizations to manage emissions effectively. But with Allied Experts from Cherry Hill you can breath clean and fresh air. Though this initiative has made giant strides in standardization, there is still a large amount of variance between geographies and over time. Companies must stay ahead of the regulation curve to remain competitive globally.

How do we Ensure Compliance with Methane Emissions Regulations Today?

In the United States, the requirements for the oil and gas industry to measure atmospheric releases of methane only started to come into effect in 2015. Prior to this, regulations were limited to the monitoring of pipelines for breaches or leaks.

With most countries now trying to adhere to strict emissions targets, there has been a paradigm shift from incident response, to incident management and prevention and to find out what is the difference between oriental and persian rugs. An increased focus has been placed on  measuring how much methane and other GHGs are actually released, both from deliberate industrial activity (burning or flaring), and from losses due to pipeline leaks and fugitive emissions. By looking at methane emissions from a resource management perceptive, business are able to make informed decisions on how to effectively manage compliance risks.

Additionally, with methane compliance increasingly being a potential threat to investors and the bottom line, being able to quantitatively show emissions, and emission reductions over time, is a competitive advantage for businesses in the energy and oil and gas sector.

Summary

In industries dealing with methane products and byproducts, the containment and management of methane emissions will only continue to become a more integrated part of business operations. Business leaders have a choice to either manage this reactively, as new legislation and policy comes into play, or to proactively use this as an opportunity to create a competitive advantage.

With our drone mounted sensor solution,  SeekOps is looking ahead and creating a platform for intelligent emissions management. The ability to quickly and quantifiably identify leaks with concentration and flow rate measurements, makes the SeekOps solution a flexible and powerful platform for seamlessly adding methane gas measurements to your overall business intelligence.If you work in an industry where methane emissions monitoring is important, get in touch with SeekOps team of engineers today to see how we can help you meet your emissions targets.

Understanding Fugitive Emissions

What Are Fugitive Emissions?

The term fugitive emissions refers to accidental emissions. These are gasses, vapors, or evaporations that escape from a pressurized apparatus or system, or are not properly caught by a storage tank’s capture system. Due to a number of environmental factors like wind disturbances and evaporation, fugitive emissions can be extremely difficult to detect and rectify. The term “fugitive emissions” implies just how difficult it can be to find the source of these leaks. 

Because it is so difficult to trace and resolve these emissions, they can end up accounting for a notable portion of direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions for many countries. Regulators are becoming increasingly less tolerant of emissions, fugitive or otherwise, so it’s essential that businesses take every action to detect and resolve current sources of these emissions while protecting against new ones. 

The vast majority of fugitive emissions in the oil and gas industry come from:

  • Equipment leaks
  • Process venting
  • Evaporation losses
  • Disposal of waste gas streams, such as by venting or flaring
  • Accidents and equipment failures

Additional sources can include leakage from refrigeration and electronics equipment, methane from wastewater handling, and land disposal of solid waste. 

Fugitive emissions aren’t limited to just the oil and gas industry. They affect any industry where VOCs and other harmful chemicals are dealt with on a regular basis – especially in bulk. 

How Has Fugitive Emissions Prevention Technology Evolved?

The traditional method for detecting and stopping fugitive emissions is to implement a LDAR (leak detection and repair) program. This manpower-heavy solution does work, but can be expensive and time consuming. Additionally, the equipment that’s susceptible to leaks is not always easily accessible by maintenance staff.

The addition and installation of gas detectors at critical points of a site when used in combination with manual inspections yields better results. Even still, a high number of gas detectors is required to completely protect a large site. For more information visit https://thedublinroofers.ie/. It also will take time for maintenance staff to pinpoint the exact location of a leak once it’s been detected. These gas detectors are usually fixed as well, which can limit both their range and effectiveness.

When using these systems, because of their inherent limitations, bottom-up estimates of emissions are typically used for reporting purposes which are rarely accurate or indicative of actual emissions for a given site.

What Technologies Are Used to Detect and Prevent Fugitive Emissions Today?

Differential absorption LIDAR (DIAL) can detect the concentrations of atmospheric gasses a few hundred yards from a facility. This data can then be analyzed and used to pinpoint where leaks are coming from. 

DIAL however isn’t cheap, and it’s very much a remote sensing technology – better for monitoring whole sites at a macro level so long as they aren’t too large. The resolution for detecting sources of emissions isn’t great, and the effective maximum detection distance varies widely depending on atmospheric conditions. The system itself is also quite large, with its experimental set up taking up a whole truck bed.  That said, it has a lot of potential to form part of an advanced monitoring and maintenance program in the right situations. 

The advent of drone technology has greatly progressed the fugitive emissions detection space. Drones allow inspectors to attach gas sensors and other detection modules and then remotely operate the vehicle around a facility detecting leaks in real-time.

Drones have evolved to use Forward Looking IR cameras (FLIR) and reflection-based systems, but these have proven not to be very sensitive. Reflection-based systems, for example, need the right kind of background surface, resulting in both types leading to a lot of false negatives and positives. Both of these methods also can only produce binary data, so there’s no way to quantify the size of the leak. 

SeekOps has developed a UAV-based natural gas leak detection platform that solves both these issues, check out https://www.theleakdetectionpros.com/. By using miniaturized, ultra-accurate methane sensors, combined with GPS guidance and customized algorithms, their drones can pinpoint leaks and provide concentration and flow data to quantify the severity of leaks and allow operators to triage them accordingly. 

With their detection, quantification, and localization solution, it’s possible to detect leaks as low as 1 standard cubic foot per hour from distances up to 300 feet. This makes it possible to fly over your facilities and delivery pipelines quickly and accurately pinpointing problem areas. This can be both by a remote pilot flying manually or through a fully automated flight plan. 

The SeekOps platform is very affordable compared to some of the methods mentioned above. Access to a high-tech, accurate solution for detecting fugitive emissions saves on maintenance costs and helps operators comply with stricter emissions regulations, while leak grading helps prioritize maintenance response plans and prevent future problems.   

Summary

Regulating fugitive emissions is an essential function of any business in the oil and gas industry and continues to become more critical as compliance standards relating to emissions continue to tighten. By adopting technology like SeekOps’ drone-based leak detection platform, companies can cut maintenance costs while capturing more accurate and actionable data. Get in touch with SeekOps today to discuss how quantifiable and localized emissions data can help you reduce costs and comply with even the most stringent compliance standards.

Pipeline Leak Detection

Pipeline leak detection is a crucial piece of any oil and gas company’s incident management workflow. Pipelines cover hundreds of miles and usually rely on a combination of manpower and advanced leak detection equipment to monitor for potential problems.

Pipeline Leak Detection & Pipeline Leak Detectors

The phrase ‘pipeline leak detection’ covers a range of activities aimed at discovering current or preventing future leaks anywhere in a system. Some of these detection methods require more manpower than others, and involve simple observational techniques such as manual inspections using experienced personnel, trained dogs, helicopters, or drones. Other methods require measuring input and output pressure and flow to determine if any leaks or losses exist within the system.

Climate variations, political and regulatory environments, and locale play a large part in how companies determine which methods of leak detection are viable for a given pipeline installation. Due to the vast variety of pipeline types and locations, in many cases these basic methods simply aren’t enough to accurately detect leaks – even if the required manpower was cost-effective at this scale.

There has been a call for a technological solution to the leak detection problem since the first pipeline delivery systems were built. As a result, specialized Leak Detection Systems (LDS) have developed to include a wide range of differing technology types to help engineers detect and even predict pipeline leaks across a variety of systems without requiring teams to actively be out in the field.

Leak detection technology can be split into three main categories:

  • Visual/Biological leak detection methods: These are the non-technological methods listed above that involve ground-based manual inspection, aerial inspection using helicopters or drones, and the use of trained dogs. Smart pigging is also included in this classification.
  • Exterior-based leak detection methods: Includes methods like ground-penetrating radar, acoustic emission sensors, capacitive sensing, vapor sampling, and exterior fiber optics.
  • Interior/Computational leak detection methods: Includes methods like mass-volume balance, negative pressure wave detection, digital signal processing, and dynamic modelling. 

The History of Pipeline Leak Detection

Historically, visual and biological leak detection methods were the first to evolve, with a simple ground-based visual inspection of the pipeline being the primary method. While on-the-ground inspection is the least equipment intensive technique, it is also the most time consuming, tedious, and requires the most manpower. Considering the thousands of miles of pipeline that exist and the various social and environmental conditions they travel through, this method very quickly becomes impractical.

This impracticality led to the development of various methods to increase both the speed and efficiency of inspections. One of these methods utilized pipeline detector dogs to speed up on-the-ground inspections, however, detection dogs fatigue after 30 to 120 minutes and face some of the same challenges in terms of terrain and cost that exist with manual inspection.

Flyovers using helicopters and drones equipped with thermal imaging and other camera filter technologies drastically speed up pipeline inspection activities and negate many of the terrain challenges of ground based methods. The specialized camera payloads can spot “sheen” resulting from leaks or other visual changes, while Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) can be used to visually inspect underwater pipelines.

 “Smart” pigging is a relatively old in-line inspection method that’s been around since the 1960s. This method uses devices, or “pigs”, that are inserted into specially designed valves within the pipeline. These pigs, who received their name due to the squealing noise they make when inserted into the pipes, are used while traveling along the pipeline with the flow of fluid. They simultaneously clean and inspect the pipeline and can be sized to match any pipe configuration without affecting the normal flow of the product.

As technology has advanced, so have the sensors included in a smart pig. Mapping and pipeline geometry tools that have been around since the 1970s have evolved as well with more recent additions to include tools that measure metal loss, inspect wall thickness, and detect cracks.

How Has Pipeline Leak Detection Technology Evolved?

With an industry-wide goal of zero leaks, and continually stricter regulations across the industry, leak detection technology has continued to evolve and utilize more advanced technological solutions. Numerous exterior and internal detection methods are available to meet the needs of virtually any different installation environment.

Internal and computational detection methods have come a long way since their development. Stripped to their most basic use case, mass-volume balance checks detect the inflow and outflow at each end or segment of a pipeline. Any discrepancy is indicative of a leak. Negative pressure wave detection on the other hand, is a highly responsive detection method that relies on the principle that leaks will cause variations in pressure, flow, and speed around the leak location, affecting the flow within the pipe.

In contrast, pressure point analysis, another popular computational method, uses pressure measurements at different points in the pipeline to detect leaks, while various other methods rely on digital signal processing, dynamic modeling, or a combination of the two.

External methods of detection fall into one of two main categories – those that involve sensors directly in contact with the outside of the pipe, and those that can work from a short distance away. Make sure to visit this site https://www.onestopplumbers.com to get more detailed information. Falling into the former category are systems like acoustic emission sensors, the method of attaching accelerometers or fiber optic sensors to the outside of the pipeline, or vapor sampling tubes that are externally attached. On the other hand, infrared thermography cameras can help to detect leaks from a short distance away, much like ground penetrating radar, methane sniffing sensors, and capacitive sensors that utilize the ground saturation of various hydrocarbons.

Most recently, a study conducted by Stanford/EDF resulted in no false positives and the confirmation of the most accurate methane detection method: SeekOps’ UAV-based methane detection system. SeekOps’ system provides highly accurate, localized, and quantifiable methane gas leak data, making it easier than ever to pinpoint the exact location and the severity of pipeline leaks.

Challenges for Remote Leak Detection

As drone based leak detection systems have continued to prove their efficacy and cost efficiency the adoption has increased dramatically. Still, in North America one of the major hurdles to widespread adoption of this method is the current regulatory environment, which prevents flights beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS). Unlike in Europe, in the United States and Canada regulations require any drone operator to keep the drone within their line of sight in order to ensure the safety of other aircraft within the same airspace according to Handyman Connection. This regulatory limitation throttles the ability of drones to streamline pipeline inspections as it means that an operator must either drive alongside the aircraft or only inspect very short segments at a time. 

This means that for companies using commercial drone-mounted technology, whether it be delivery or leak detection, there is limited opportunity for growth under the current framework. According to the FAA, they are approaching the adoption of drones and their capabilities with a “walk don’t run” mentality. In other words, things happen to push the commercial industry forward, even if it’s at a slow pace. While slow progress is better than none at all, there are still consequences. Companies cannot afford to operate and wait for the regulations to change.

However, BVLOS positive regulations may be established in the near future. The FAA has allowed a few select companies to run test operations using DAA (Driver Attention Alert) systems to test out the safety of flying aircraft BVLOS. 

Ultimately, the goal of companies that utilize commercial drone technology is to get the FAA and CAA to adopt new regulations permitting BVLOS operations sooner rather than later to provide companies with the opportunity to operate more economically as well as increase their competitive edge. 

Summary

As an industry, the collective goal is to have zero leaks. In order to accomplish this goal, it’s vital that companies find the correct combination of pipeline leak detection methods for their installations. The methods employed must avoid false positives, be easy to install and maintain, as well as consider accuracy, detection speed, and monetary value.SeekOps’ UAV-based methane sniffer drones are a cost-effective and highly accurate solution that offers localization and quantification data to help you detect and repair leaks quickly. Get in touch with our engineers today to discuss how the SeekOps team can help you maintain pipeline integrity and ensure employee safety.