|Title||Flaring Minimization Programme at Saudi Aramco|
|Spatial Coverage||presented at Salt Lake City, Utah|
|Abstract||OVER the next three years approximately US$40bn worth of gas will be burned away by the world's major flaring countries, such as Russia, Nigeria, Iran, Iraq, Kazakhstan and Algeria, according to data from the World Bank. The resulting emissions are harmful to human health and the environment. Flaring is used to eliminate waste gas that is too expensive to use or transport or that poses a hazard to workers, nearby residents and the plant itself during non-routine occurrences such as emergencies, process upsets and equipment failure. Although the last five years has seen a 15% reduction in global flaring, there is still a lot of progress to be made|
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44 www.tcetoday.com june 2012 tce EMISSION CONTROL Flaring under control june 2012 www.tcetoday.com 45 EMISCSIOANR CEOENRTRSOL tce OVER the next three years approximately US$40bn worth of gas will be burned away by the world's major flaring countries, such as Russia, Nigeria, Iran, Iraq, Kazakhstan and Algeria, according to data from the World Bank. The resulting emissions are harmful to human health and the environment. Flaring is used to eliminate waste gas that is too expensive to use or transport or that poses a hazard to workers, nearby residents and the plant itself during non-routine occurrences such as emergencies, process upsets and Today, using gas domestically has powered much of Saudi Arabia's energy, provided a new area of exports (petrochemicals), and allowed more oil to be exported to the world. or to sell it locally to third-party industries (including those in the two main industrial zones in Jubail on the Arabian Gulf, and Yanbu' on the Red Sea). Phase one of the MGS began operations in 1977 at the Berri Gas Plant; and continued with the Shedgum and Ju‘aymah gas plants in 1980; ‘Uthmaniyah and Yanbu' plants in 1981 and 1982; and the Hawiyah and Haradh plants in 2001 and 2003. Phase two of the MGS came onstream in 1980, collecting more associated gas from other fields. Over the last 20 years, demand for gas from the MGS has grown at 10%/y in both the industrial and power-generation sectors. Today, Saudi Arabia uses more gas per capita than the UK, Germany, and Japan, and demand is expected to continue to grow at 5%/y over the next 20 years as the country's domestic and industrial bases expand. Today, the use of gas that would have othherwise have been flared has powered much of Saudi Arabia's need for energy, provided a new area of exports in petrochemicals, and allowed more oil to be exported to the world. The progress has been substantial. Since the MGS started, our regular daily flaring has been limited to purging gas necessary to prevent air ingress into flare headers, the daily leakages from flare header isolation valves, and any unusual operational requirements. Furthermore, since the MGS started operations, many more flare minimisation initiatives have been implemented in our operating facilities, such as replacing passing isolation valves on flare headers with tight isolation valves (class IV or above), especially in older gas processing facilities such as the Shedgum and ‘Uthmaniyah gas plants; and installing smokeless flares. Today, 98% of all onshore gas oil separation plants (GOSPs), and a total of six gas plants, and seven refineries and NGL fractionation facilities use smokeless flares to comply with environmental regulations. Of course, there is always room for improvement. In 2006, due to tightening global environmental regulations, we established a corporate flaring task team to develop a strategic roadmap for new as well as existing facilities. The team developed guidelines and provided technical solutions equipment failure. Although the last five years has seen a 15% reduction in global flaring, there is still a lot of progress to be made. how it all began The value of Saudi Arabia's associated gas was recognised in the 1970s. Saudi Aramco built a comprehensive gas production and distribution system, called the ‘Master Gas System' (MGS), to recover associated gas from oil fields, and process it and supply it to other Saudi Aramco petrochemical facilities Wael Al-Blaies looks at the implementation and benefits of Saudi Aramco's flare minimisation plan 46 www.tcetoday.com june 2012 tce EMISSION CONTROL suited to each facility. For example, flare gas recovery systems were installed at two major gas processing facilities and one major oil producing facility with routine flaring rates in excess of 1m ft3/d. shifting to a proactive approach We realised that to improve further, we had to move from a reactive to a proactive approach. Any future success at sites where flaring couldn't be eliminated altogether would rely on collecting data from each operation and reacting to that data operationally on a caseby- case basis. This was no simple task, as our operational facilities include refineries, gas plants, GOSPs, pipelines, and terminals. Previously, there was no functional system to measure, record, analyse, classify and report flare losses. Without this data, it would be difficult to justify the business cases necessary to secure capital and operational funding for all of the projects. As a result, in 2008 Saudi Aramco established a corporate-wide flare minimisation programme with pre-assigned goals and responsibilities. A coordinated effort across different disciplines was essential to achieve the required results in the most effective manner. It was essential to immediately establish the roles and responsibilities of various company organisations, including the corporate management team, to ensure that the scheme was implemented consistently. the plan One of the key elements of the company's long-term flaring reduction strategy is the ongoing development of site-specific plans. Each plan includes a detailed evaluation of any flaring events that might occur due to the process control design needs of the site's equipment and the safety of its personnel. Each plan is developed by the plant's operations team with help from the company's process and control systems department, and is administered by the site manager. Once a flare minimisation plan (FMP) is implemented, it achieves continuous savings and provides baseline information that makes it easier to review the design and operational philosophy of company sites and continuously modify corporate best practices. To date, six major gas processing facilities and seven refining and NGL fractionation plants have implemented FMPs, and update them annually. More than 56 GOSPs plan to implement their own plans by 2014. The main elements of the company-wide plan are: • developing a flare monitoring system (FMS) as the fundamental database and reporting system; • using the monitoring systems to develop FMPs for all facilities; and • implementing key performance indicators (KPIs) to reduce flaring. measured benefits Where it's been impossible to eliminate flaring, the FMP has become a vital measurement and control procedure. Direct measurement, giving accurate and reliable monitoring of the flared gas assists with online control systems, minimising flared losses, and improving the total efficiency of the processing facilities. Successful implementation of FMPs has resulted in major benefits to process control, energy efficiency, and emissions control. A real-time flare monitoring system (FMS) is the key element to the success of the overall FMP. The FMS (see Figure 1) records and display all plant and equipment flaring losses on a real-time basis, to: • establish realistic flaring targets; • collect data on what is flared and why; • forecast flare loss KPIs; what can't be measured can't be managed The FMS schematic drawing below illustrates an entire facility flare system, showing the location of each control valve, manual valve, and restricting orifice for all equipment, which contributes to both the low pressure, high pressure or acid flare headers from each plant within the facility. An interactive database is generated to display the required KPIs. This customised database provides engineers and operators with flexibility to select an individual plant or an individual flare header for the entire facility, and generate data on flare losses in real time. As a result, the ability for operators to respond with corrective actions are enhanced. Moreover, customised periodic shift-wise flaring reports are easily generated, motivating a competitive environment among operation groups. Finally, classification of flare loss helps when investigating root causes and generating mitigation measures. Figure 1: A screengrab of Saudi Aramco's real-time flare management system Direct measurement, giving accurate and reliable monitoring of the flared gas assists with online control systems, minimising flared losses volume, and improving the total efficiency of the processing facilities. 48 www.tcetoday.com june 2012 tce EMISSION CONTROL • enhance accountability and operator response; and • provide the fundamental database used to collate internal reports on the progress of the FMP. reusing waste gas Flare gas recovery systems are being commissioned in June, and should result in a nearly 100% reduction of normal flaring, limiting flare operation to emergency releases and scheduled maintenance. Captured flare gas can then be reused as valuable fuel to generate electrical power or feedstock. These recovery systems reduce costly emissions, protect the environment, and provide an immediate return on investment. Successful implementation of the FMPs has justified the economic viability of new projects including flare gas recovery systems, which in developing countries are covered by the Kyoto Protocol's Clean Development Mechanism. This allows Saudi Aramco to claim a credit for each ton of CO2 it prevents from being emitted, and recover some of the US$40m invested in each recovery system. Refineries and NGL facilities have now successfully completed their FMSs and FMPs. We took the lessons learned from that experience, and used a coordinated approach to establish FMP teams for each of our gas processing facilities. Development of the gas plants' monitoring systems began in January 2011 and all FMPs were published by December 2011 to reflect the whole year flaring losses from all gas operations. By conducting several FMS and FMP workshops we were able to accelerate the development of all monitoring systems three years ahead of schedule. As an example of the effectiveness of the FMPs, at five of our gas plants we reduced total flaring volumes by 40% after implementing short-term mitigation measures. The total reduction in flaring from gas plants was around 9,600m ft3 in 2011. Building further on this success, Figure 2 illustrates the timescales for plans at more than 60 oil-producing facilities and new projects. In addition, we anticipate further reductions Summary implementation plan Activities/Initiatives 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 1) Generate FMPs for oil producing facilities 2) Generate FMPs for new facilities 3) Migrate FMS reporting to a web based application 4) Publish a consolidated FMS report for all Saudi Aramco facilities in gas flaring by implementing the rest of the long-term mitigation measures for the same gas plants. Examples include conducting process optimisation studies to reduce flaring, changing the types of the main flare header metering devices, and installing flare gas recovery systems. conclusion For now, the focus is on making the FMPs a success. This will require continued co-ordination and commitment among departments and considerable capital investment - though we expect this will quickly be recovered. The data provides the information necessary to continually improve the environmental impact and expenditure of our operations. Internally, the FMPs should allow us to achieve zero flaring. Our long-term goals also include establishing a forum to promote industrial flare management best practices on a regional level. tce Wael Al-Blaies (firstname.lastname@example.org) is flare & relief systems engineer at Saudi Aramco. Acknowledgement: Thanks must go to the FMP implementation team from Saudi Aramco process and control systems and operating facilities. Figure 2: Developing a comprehensive FMP for all the operating facilities across the hydrocarbon value chain. Associated training of facility engineers will also continue Successful implementation of the FMPs has justified the economic viability of new projects including flare gas recovery systems, which in developing countries are covered by the Kyoto Protocol's Clean Development Mechanism.