Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Devon moves toward carbon offset credits through retrofit

Devon Energy Corp. worked with Verdeo Group Inc. to find a way to reduce methane emissions from wells by retrofitting high-bleed pneumatic controllers with low-bleed options. Devon intends to use the offset credits to mitigate risk from future US climate legislation.

The American Carbon Registry, a private voluntary greenhouse gas offset registry, approved the technology as a carbon offset methodology. Verdeo of Washington, DC, is developing and financing pre-compliance GHG emissions reduction projects.

Oil and gas operators typically use pressurized natural gas in pneumatic controllers to regulate pressure, flow rate, and liquid levels. Pneumatic controllers vent methane emissions.

The US Environmental Protection Agency has said high-bleed controllers are among the industry’s biggest sources of vented methane. Thousands of existing wells use high-bleed pneumatic controllers. New wells typically are equipped with low-bleed technology.

Now, Devon plans to retrofit its high-bleed pneumatic controllers with low-bleed pneumatic controllers.

“Devon has a corporate initiative to reduce GHG emissions and create tradable, bankable offset credits,” said Darren Smith, Devon manager of environmental health and safety. “This methodology allows us to quantify and verify GHG reductions in a credible and transparent manner.”

The Oklahoma City producer also plans to pursue additional offset project development, he said.

Labels: , , , , ,

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Chevron tests solar technology at former refinery

Chevron Corp. is using a former refinery site in Bakersfield, Calif., to evaluate seven photovoltaic technologies for potential application of renewable power at other Chevron sites.

Six thin-film technologies and one crystalline-silicon photovoltaic technology are being tested in Project Brightfield. Solar companies demonstrating thin-film technologies are Abound Solar, MiaSole, Schuco, Solar Frontier, Sharp, and Solibro while Innovalight provides crystalline-silicon photovoltaic technology.

Some 7,700 solar panels on an 8-acre site will help power Chevron’s Kern River oil field operations.

The performance and costs of the seven technologies will be compared with traditional crystalline silicon panels already installed on the former refinery site. Chevron Technology Ventures made no mention of whether it might consider investing in the company with the best technology.

This is the second time Chevron has taken an existing asset and converted it for renewable power. The first such project was a wind farm on a former Texaco refinery site near Casper, Wyo., where 11 wind turbines generate 16.5 Mw of power.

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

ARI: More carbon dioxide EOR could help environment

Advanced Resources International Inc. of Arlington, Va., recently issued a report studying both the economic benefits of increased US oil production and the environmental benefits of increased enhanced oil recovery using carbon dioxide.

ARI outlines its conclusions in a white paper entitled “US Oil Production Potential from Accelerated Deployment of Carbon Capture and Storage.”

Carbon capture stemming from proposed US climate legislation could boost US oil production by 3-3.6 million b/d by 2030, assuming all the captured CO2 were to be used for EOR, ARI said (OGJ Online, Mar. 11, 2010).

“Despite what is assumed about increased efficiencies in transportation, it is important to realize that a critical choice for society, at least in the near term, will be between a domestically produced barrel of crude oil and an imported barrel,” said Mike Godec, ARI vice-president and the paper’s author.

Reduced atmospheric carbon emissions are not the only environmental benefit resulting from CO2-EOR projects, he said.

“The incremental environmental impacts, at least at the surface, associated with CO2-EOR would include installing additional infrastructure necessary for CO2 injection and recycling, and some additional new wells,” Godec said.

“These additions and their associated disturbances would be minimal compared to producing the same volume of oil from areas not already under development,” he noted. EOR produces incremental oil from fields already in production.

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Advanced biofuels firms seek US investment tax credit

A group of more than 30 advanced biofuel companies sent US congressional leaders a letter in which they requested a 30% investment tax credit for cellulosic ethanol and a variety of other advanced biofuels.

“Advanced biofuels producers are eligible under current law for a federal production tax credit, but with no commercial production, that incentive remains unused,” the letter said. Companies signing the letter said they expect no commercial cellulosic plants to be commissioned before 2011 at the earliest.

“Just as Congress responded to the impact of this [economic] downturn on the renewable electricity industry by allowing a 30% investment tax credit in new facilities that can be monetized through a federal Treasury grant program, we believe additional tax incentives are needed for advanced biofuel,” the letter said.

Arnie Klann, chief executive officer of Bluefire Ethanol Fuels, told me that no US government mechanism exists for financing advanced biofuel project development. Meanwhile, oil companies have depletion allowances while wind, solar, and geothermal companies have investment tax credits, he said.

The letter said the investment tax credit should be technology neutral. “Ideally, this incentive would operate as a necessary precursor to the production tax credit, and would present potential renewable fuels investors with a robust incentive to commit to these technologies.”

Such an incentive would help biofuels developers attract private capital so that advanced biofuels can “meet the ambitious volume requirements of the renewable fuel standard,” the letter concluded.

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Marathon refinery to deploy wi-fi safety system

Marathon Petroleum Co. LLC plans to deploy a wireless gas detection system from Accenture at two units within Marathon’s 192,000-b/d refinery in Robinson, Ill.

Jerry C. Welch, senior vice-president of Marathon Petroleum, said the system will alert workers within the refinery of any gas incidents and will help colleagues outside the plant to find refinery workers.

“The refining industry has not been able to use wireless networks to remotely detect hazards or locate workers,” Welch said. He believes the system “has the potential to transform onsite safety in our industry and should be relevant to many other sectors.”

The dense amount of steel used in refineries and chemical plants makes it difficult to use wireless systems, Accenture said. The system uses a lapel-based wireless four-gas detector and wi-fi tags.

Colin Fulton, director of Accenture Plant and Automation Solutions, said several technologies from various companies were combined to create the Accenture Life Safety Solution system, which allows remote monitoring of incidents and provides continuous gas monitoring.

Labels: , , , ,