Gulf Coast Environmental Systems Supports the “Zero Flaring by 2030” Initiative
20-years-ago, the southern Texas skyline, like many other areas of “oil country”, looked like a birthday cake lined with bright burning open flares. With recent pushes towards alternative options, the “candles” have started to disappear.
In the drilling process, the oil that is retrieved from the ground is accompanied by a significant amount of gas. These gases are deemed uneconomical and generally burned off using flares. Flares are pollution control devices used to safely combust unwanted process waste gas streams and are essential for safe plant operation, and the abatement of routine waste gas emissions. This process has been used for decades and is still the most widely accepted method of process waste gas abatement because of the dangerous Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) that can be found in these streams. Routine flaring, a specific type of flaring that is incredibly common in the oil and gas industry, is a process in which flaring is done in cases where the gas does not present any safety risks. However, flares have garnered quite a bit of attention in the media with the focus on methane and CO2 and their role in climate change.
Globally, gas flares burn approximately 140 billion cubic meters of natural gas per year. This amounts to 300 million tons of CO2 being released into the atmosphere without capture. This release is a potentially massive missed opportunity; the amount of gas flared last year alone could be used to create more electricity than the entire continent of Africa uses in a year. Furthermore, gases that cannot be used for energy generation could alternatively be used for conservation and use in several other industries (ie: food and beverage, medical, etc.) providing further financial value.
World Bank, along with industry leaders, is looking to change the practice of routine flaring. In 2015, World Bank announced the “Zero Routine Flaring by 2030” Initiative. This initiative encourages oil companies, development institutions, and governments to take steps to replace current routine flaring practices with solutions that will capture and repurpose the waste gases and CO2. This initiative specifically targets routine flaring, only.
Currently, 34 oil companies, 27 governments, and 15 developmental institutions endorse and report World Bank’s “Zero Routine Flaring by 2030.”
Gulf Coast Environmental Systems has spent over 15-years perfecting alternative technology options and has recently declared support for the Zero Routine Flaring by 2030 Initiative.
Alternative Technologies to Open Flaring:
The two most commonly used open flare alternatives are Thermal Oxidizers (TO) and Vapor Combustor Units (VCU). These technologies both accomplish the abatement of the unusable gases released in the drilling process, but offer additional features and options in revenue generation, instead of just destruction, and/or destruction rate efficiency.
A Thermal Oxidizer (also known as thermal oxidiser or thermal incinerator and often referred to as a direct fired oxidizer or afterburner) is a process unit for air pollution control that decomposes hazardous gases at a high temperatures and releases heat (which can be recovered), water vapor, and carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The chemical process of thermal oxidation is quite simple; the exhaust stream temperature is raised to between 1,250 to 1,800°F, a temperature at which the chemical bonds that hold the molecules together, are broken. The VOCs in the process exhaust stream are converted to various combinations of carbon dioxide (CO2), water (H2O), and thermal energy by the high temperature of the combustion chamber. The Direct Fired Thermal Oxidizer, which is the most widely used abatement technology for industrial processes that produce exhaust streams with high levels of pollutants, can achieve up to 99% hydrocarbon destruction rate (DRE).
Similar to a Thermal Oxidizer, a Vapor Combustor Unit (VCU), operates at high temperatures where the temperature is raised to the point that VOC chemical bonds are broken. The combustion chamber of the vapor combustor is also be considered the ‘stack’. The purpose of the burner on the combustor is to input the heat energy required to raise the inlet temperature to the required chamber operating temperature. Heat from combustion requires induced natural draft air or a dilution air fan for proper combustion and cooling. The cooling air is required during periods in which the vent gas has sufficient heating value to raise the VCU operating temperature above the high set point. The system dilution air fan or louvers are controlled differently for each application.
- Methane Abatement
- Heat Recovery
- Solvent Recovery
- Carbon Trading
- Tax Incentives
- VOC & NOx Trade
- RNG+ Green Energy
Gulf Coast Environmental Systems has been providing sustainable pollution control solutions to oil and gas for over 15-years. With customers in dozens of countries, we pride ourselves on designing and building some of the most environmentally and cost friendly equipment in the industry. If you are interested in learning more about alternatives to routine open flaring, contact our pollution control experts, today at firstname.lastname@example.org or 832.476.9024