Executive Summary

Activities in Canada’s upstream oil and gas sector result in significant emissions of both carbon dioxide (CO2) from combustion and flaring, as well as methane (CH4) from venting. However, little analysis into the potential impact of applying existing energy efficiency upgrades to the sector has been completed. These energy efficiency upgrades are, at present, not regulated or incentivized; yet, the potential completion of energy efficiency projects provides the opportunity to realize substantial greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions.

At a national level, energy-related activities are the largest source of GHG emissions reported in the Canadian National Inventory Report. In 2011, 163 Mt carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) was attributable to the upstream oil and gas sector. This accounts for 23% of emissions in the Canadian National Inventory Report.

Upstream oil and gas facilities include batteries, compressor stations, gas gathering stations, and gas plants. Further, these facilities include pneumatic controllers, pneumatic pumps and engines that bleed methane gas or produce combustion emissions as part of their normal operations. Emissions from these assets of the oil and gas industry are significant.

An opportunity exists to reduce the emissions associated with these facilities using new market-ready technologies. These technologies can reduce or eliminate the amount of CO2 emitted and methane vented as part of normal operations, capture vented methane to be sold or re-used in an engine, or replace natural gas in pneumatic instruments with compressed air. The objective of this inventory study is to establish the link between upstream oil and gas facility assets and alternative, market-ready technologies that perform an equivalent function while emitting fewer or no greenhouse gases. Establishing this link allows for the determination of the existing assets that could benefit from energy efficiency upgrades. Then, the volume of greenhouse gas emissions per year that could be reduced from the upstream oil and gas sector in Alberta are estimated. The compilation of this dataset can inform public or private energy efficiency projects or programs in the province.

At PTAC’s request, Cap-Op Energy conducted a desktop review of the distributed oil and gas facilities in Alberta, and related methane control and energy efficiency technologies. The review was comprised of three main components: an inventory of distributed oil and gas facilities in Alberta, a subsequent inventory of the typical assets at each facility and a review of the applicable methane control or energy efficiency technologies. The information gained from this three-phase review was used to inform estimations of the potential greenhouse gas reductions possible within the upstream sector in Alberta.

  • The eight GHG reducing technologies studied in this report include:
    * Low/no-bleed pneumatic controllers
    * Engine fuel management systems (air-fuel ratio systems)
    * Vent gas capture (SlipStreamTM Technology)
    * Low/no-bleed pneumatic pumps
    * Custom waste heat recovery systems for process heat
    * Instrument gas to instrument air for pneumatic technologies
    * Well-site vent gas capture
    * Green completions

The conservative estimate of the stock of GHG emitting equipment that could be retrofitted with theGHG efficient technologies was multiplied by the average GHG emissions reductions offered by each technology. The resulting emissions reductions opportunity was the calculated as 35,300,000 tonnes of CO2e per year. As such, the results presented within this report demonstrate that a large opportunity to reduce GHG emissions within the upstream oil and gas sector of Alberta exists.

Final Report