Reducing Gas Flaring in Oil Production from Shales


The rapid pace of oil & gas development in the United States over the last decade has outpaced the technologies and infrastructure available to mitigate many of the potentially polluting byproducts associated with production. For example, the “main production target in [the Bakken Formation and Eagle Ford Formation] is liquid (oil and condensate), and the associated gas is flared or vented.” This release of gas from two significant plays is on the order of 250 million standard cubic feet and 100 million standard cubic feet, respectively, per day.

Burning off and venting of uncaptured gas releases carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere. Recent agreements to limit routine flaring or venting by the year 2030 have oil and gas companies and the countries in which they operate searching for new solutions that don’t contribute to air pollutants and greenhouse gasses. Capturing the gas, to be used to generate energy or produce more oil, is one desirable alternative. But limited infrastructure has slowed progress toward such a solution. So researchers at EGI and the University of Utah set out to design better surface production facilities that will reduce this venting and help make oil production more sustainable.

In late July, Drs. Richard Roehner (University of Utah), Palash Panja (EGI), and Milind Deo (University of Utah, EGI) published a study in Energy & Fuels, a publication of the American Chemical Society, that lays out their extraordinary research to develop a two-stage design for surface production facilities that improves liquid quality (oil and condensate) while reducing venting rates by up to 70%.

The Abstract and full paper are available for viewing and download at ACS.

The ACS PressPac with the August 17 Press Release and additional information about the research can be viewed on their website.

Reducing Gas Flaring in Oil Production from Shales

Authors

Dr. Milind Deo, EGI Affiliate Scientist and Chair, Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Utah
Palash Panja, EGI Post Doctoral Research Associate
Dr. Richard Roehner, Associate Professor, University of Utah Department of Chemical Engineering

Click on images below to view full size.

Night time images of flares from oil fields appear as bright as city lights. New research has shown that two-stage surface production facilities could reduce venting rates by up to 70%.
Credit: National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Night time images of flares from oil fields appear as bright as city lights. New research has shown that two-stage surface production facilities could reduce venting rates by up to 70%. Credit: National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Change in hydrocarbon production and vent gas in two stage
separation compared to single-stage separation.
Change in hydrocarbon production and vent gas in two stage separation compared to single-stage separation.
Conventional condensate field process simulation flow sheet, using ASPEN, version 8.8.
Conventional condensate field process simulation flow sheet, using ASPEN, version 8.8.