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Natural Gas Capture - Clean and Economic

DNV GL addresses burning issue by proposing alternatives to gas flaring

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140 billion cubic meters of natural gas produced together with oil is wastefully burned or “flared” at thousands of oil fields around the world, equivalent to the combined gas consumption of Central and South America in 2013. Now, through an Extraordinary Innovation Project, DNV GL reveals a range of local possibilities for utilising this wasted gas economically.

New approach

Based on real locations and field conditions, DNV GL has developed a methodology that uses gas flowrate and distance to market to select the most appropriate technical solutions on a case-by-case basis. The methodology could present new revenue opportunities, particularly for smaller-scale applications for operators, while helping them to reduce emissions and stay ahead of regulatory requirements.
DNV GL’s methodology is informed by detailed case studies covering different small-scale flow rates and gas compositions in four countries: Russia, USA, Algeria and Vietnam. Each geographical setting provides different technical, regulatory and economic challenges.

Approximately five per cent of annual gas production is flared or vented worldwide – a significant source of both greenhouse gas emissions and of toxic components that can harm the health and the well-being of local communities. Most flaring occurs at either ageing and/or remote installations.

Viable alternatives

Martin Layfield, global segment leader of the Gas Value Chain with DNV GL, said: “It’s a significant challenge to turn waste from flaring and venting into a profitable economic product with sound environmental benefits. However our research shows that there are economically viable solutions that can assist in carbon abatement and develop flare gas for societal use.”

“Existing solutions are mature for large-scale applications, but most flaring is very small-scale. We need innovation in applying associated gas to energy intensive processes, such as air separation and water desalination. Though some solutions might be immature for near-term implementation, current applications such as micro LNG, compressed natural gas, natural gas hydrates (NGHs) and conversion methods can deliver significant benefits, and are proving to do so in some cases in certain markets like North America,” he continued.

An end to flaring?

Without a global cost penalty for emitted carbon, there are few business incentives to capture the flared gas. Financial barriers can significantly impede the efforts to reduce emissions and this is particularly true for countries with developing economies. Access to funding to develop projects and the implementation of technologies is a factor and it is hoped that the work conducted by DNV GL can help to demonstrate the economic scenarios which can instill confidence in the industry to achieve more.

Similarly, regulatory drivers are limited in many geographies. However, the World Bank initiative to end routine gas flaring at oil production sites by 2030 is helping to drive industry momentum, with endorsement by nine countries, ten oil companies and six development institutions.

“This research helps identify new value chains and revenue streams that can help meet the industry’s demand for sustainable, cost-effective and reliable alternatives to gas flaring. The objective is to support the industry in raising the standards of safer, smarter and greener performance. This will reduce CO2 emissions and local pollution and ultimately improve the quality of life for the individual”, says Elisabeth Tørstad, CEO of DNV GL Oil & Gas.

“At DNV GL we are committed to contributing to the sustainable development of the industries we engage in. We believe technology to be a key enabler and invest 5% of our annual revenue in R&D,” she continued.


About Extraordinary Innovation at DNV GL 

DNV GL’s Extraordinary Innovation Projects are part of the organization’s commitment to provide foresight for the future. The company invests 5 % of its revenue in research and development.
Part of this investment in channelled into four Extraordinary Innovation Projects each year. These projects take a fresh look at the industries we work with and the challenges they face. Our aim is to inspire our stakeholders to think differently in developing safer, smarter and greener solutions.

Gas Cylinders
Air separation - associated gas can also be used as fuel gas to separate air into nitrogen and oxygen. Nitrogen can be used for industrial uses or for well stimulation. Oxygen can be used for domestic/industrial processes.
Creating Value from Flaring
Alternatives to flaring – value added product and processes. Although many of the underlying technology solutions are mature at large scale but few of them have been used commercially at small-scale. Thus, many of the solutions in DNV GL’s methodology are novel.
Flaring Case Studies
The project is based on flaring case studies around the world...
Technology Selection Flowchart - Gas Flaring
The flowchart shows DNV GL’s methodology, which uses gas flowrate and distance to market for various products to select the most appropriate technology solutions for a particular case.
Flaring
Example of an onshore technology options chart based on uncontaminated flared gas flowrates and the distance to product markets.

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