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CCAC O&G Methane Partnership – Technical Guidance Document

Number 6: Unstabilized Hydrocarbon Liquid Storage Tanks
Modified: 7 December 2015

1 TECHNICAL GUIDANCE DOCUMENT NUMBER 6:

2 UNSTABILIZED HYDROCARBON LIQUID STORAGE TANKS
3 Introduction
4
5 This document provides technical guidance to Partners of the CCAC Oil and Gas Methane Partnership
6 (OGMP). It is one in a series describing a core source of methane emissions from oil and natural gas
7 production operations. The guidance documents introduce suggested methodologies for quantifying
8 methane emissions from specific sources and describes established mitigation options that Partners
9 should reference when determining if the source is “mitigated.”1 The OGMP recognizes that the
10 equipment and processes described in these documents are found in a variety of oil and gas operations,
11 including onshore, offshore, and remote operations, and the way in which the emissions are quantified
12 and mitigated may vary across locations and operational environments. As such, operational conditions,
13 as well as logistical, safety and cost considerations, must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. The OGMP
14 assumes that methane emission mitigation actions that require shut-downs of non-redundant
15 equipment/processes (e.g., that would result in a stoppage of operations) would be carried out during
16 regularly scheduled maintenance activities, unless the Partner deems the corrective action to be worthy
17 of an early/additional shut-down.
18
19 Description of Source
20
21 Storage vessels in the oil and natural gas sector are used to hold a variety of liquids, including crude oil,
22 condensates, and produced water. Crude oil and condensate may be stored in fixed-roof atmospheric
23 tanks to stabilize flow between production wells and pipeline or trucking transportation sites. In offshore
24 fields, the storage tanks on floating production, storage and offloading (FPSO) vessels and floating storage
25 and offloading (FSO) vessels contain hydrocarbons, produced onsite or coming from nearby platforms.
26 Light hydrocarbons dissolved in the crude oil or condensate—including methane and other volatile
27 organic compounds (VOC), natural gas liquids (NGLs), hazardous air pollutants (HAP), and some inert
28 gases—will evolve from the liquid stored in the tank and collect in the space between the liquid and the
29 walls and roof of the tank.
30
31 Emissions from storage vessels are a function of flash, working, and standing losses. Flash losses (the most
32 significant of the three) occur when a liquid with dissolved gases is transferred from a vessel at higher
33 pressure relative to the receiving vessel. The instantaneous pressure drop causes gas to rapidly vaporize
34 (i.e., flash). Working losses refer to vapor released due to changing fluid levels and agitation of liquids in
35 tanks associated with circulation of fresh liquid through them. Standing losses refer to vapor release
36 associated with daily and seasonal temperature and barometric pressure changes. Field production tanks
37 are designed to push the liquid from a gas/liquid separator into the tank at a pressure that will fill the
38 tank. This is an alternative to pumping the oil to the tank, and results in some flashing emissions.
39
40 The volume of vapor emitted from a fixed storage tank is dependent on several factors, most significantly
41 the pressure in the gas/liquid separator and the oil or condensate flow rate from this separator into the
42 tank. That is, the greater the differential in pressure between the separator and tank, the higher the

1 For reporting purposes as described in the CCAC Oil and Gas Methane Partnership Framework, Section 3.

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g. 10 11 Fixed-roof hydrocarbon liquid storage tanks may be configured in a variety of ways.g.. when there is no market for the 2 “Flare” in this document refers to vertical combustion devices using an open or enclosed flame.. compressor emissions) suction. 18 19 Partners should quantify and evaluate for mitigation any of the configurations above that are not 20 identified as “mitigated” for methane emissions. VRU or stabilization towers 23 are not functioning. even in 21 the “mitigated” situations described above. and 9 hazardous air pollutants like hydrogen sulfide.g. cracks/corrosion in tank roof.).. more working losses will occur than in tanks with low throughput 4 and where oil is held for longer periods of time. pentanes. fuel gas. gas lift). a flare has blown out). Though unusual. etc. 5 6 The composition of these storage tank vapors varies. and/or through openings in the fixed roof of an Unmitigated oil or condensate production tank (e. in storage tanks where oil cycling is 3 frequent and overall throughput is high. Partners should evaluate the system to ensure that it is not 22 malfunctioning in some way. A 16 Expected emissions levels if mitigation option is in place and functioning properly (e.g. to avoid Mitigated flash losses (the most significant). Page 2 of 10 . It should be noted that. open/unsealed thief hatch. Lighter crude oils (API gravity >36°) flash more hydrocarbon vapors than heavier crudes 2 (API gravity <36°) at the same separator pressure. natural inert gases such as nitrogen and carbon dioxide. and this should be 12 identified for each area to determine whether the source is mitigated or unmitigated. CCAC O&G Methane Partnership – Technical Guidance Document Number 6: Unstabilized Hydrocarbon Liquid Storage Tanks Modified: 7 December 2015 1 flashing losses. (OPTION A) Mitigated (if confirmed to be Stabilization towers are installed ahead of tanks to reduce the amount functioning with lowA or no of entrained gas and flash gas emitted from the tank(s). and xylene. emissions) (OPTION C) Floating-roof storage tanks are used instead of fixed-roof. benzene.. emissions) (OPTION B) Mitigated (if confirmed to be functioning with lowA or no Tank vapors are routed to a flare/combustion device. Additionally. resulting in higher methane emission levels (e. flare is not 17 extinguished.. situations have also been observed in which 24 gas from the separator is permanently routed to the atmosphere (e.g.1: Configurations for Hydrocarbon Liquid Storage Tanks Configuration Mitigated or Unmitigated Tank vapors are emitted to the atmosphere via routing through an open vent. toluene. Mitigated (if confirmed to be Tank vapors are recovered by routing to a Vapor Recovery Unit (VRU) functioning with lowA or no system and directing to productive use (e. Some options 13 include the following: 14 15 Table 6. ENARDO pressure/vacuum relief valve). ethyl-benzene. propane. butanes. Other components include more complex hydrocarbon compounds 8 such as ethane. but the largest component is typically methane 7 (often between 40 and 80 percent). per the sections below. unlit flare2.

e. http://www. FID detector). Section 98. in which case this should count as an additional source of “unmitigated” emissions that needs to be 2 quantified and addressed. 20 measurement is highly encouraged whenever possible. Partners can also route 35 flow from an open thief hatch to a measurement device (e. Subpart W – Petroleum and Natural Gas Systems.. in which 26 case the alternative methodology will be documented and explained in the Annual Report. 40 CFR 98. the OGMP recommends that 17 Partners use one of the following quantification methodologies. Observing the tank roof and tank vent (if routed away from the tank) with an 31 infrared (IR) leak imaging camera (designed to visually identify hydrocarbon emissions) both before 32 and during measurement will show locations where gas is venting. 3 4 Note that potential dump valve leakage unmitigated emissions could occur from separators located 5 upstream of storage tanks. (c). direct measurement is the 18 most accurate method for quantifying methane emissions. to the extent that those can affect emissions levels. by attaching a length of piping to a 36 flange that can be sealed to an open thief hatch and measuring the emissions coming through the 37 piping). In principle. Partner Update Spring 2006. if the components of 11 the upstream separator are included in Directed Inspection & Maintenance (DI&M) programs. 4 Partners should conduct measurements with appropriately calibrated instruments and per the instrument manufacturer instructions. 27 28  Direct Measurement5: 29 When quantifying emissions via measurement. As such. methane can leak from gas/liquid separators or compressor 6 suction scrubber dump valves due to physical erosion of valve seats or due to solids plugging or liquids 7 freezing in the valve. and how wide and how frequently the valve opens. and (d).3 Dump valve leakage can be significant 8 and is dependent on the pressure in the separator or scrubber (which can vary). how long the leakage 9 goes unnoticed.234(b). value of gas saved). CCAC O&G Methane Partnership – Technical Guidance Document Number 6: Unstabilized Hydrocarbon Liquid Storage Tanks Modified: 7 December 2015 1 gas). Partners should report emissions 10 from this source under the FUGITIVE COMPONENT AND EQUIPMENT LEAKS source. A measurement is commonly taken 34 directly from the vent of a storage tank using a flow totalizing turbine meter. thereby preventing the valve from closing. 21 22 To achieve some level of consistency within the Methane Partnership. Appendix A to the Technical Guidance Documents includes guidance on instrument use. Partners seeking to generate Emission Factors for their operations should use direct measurement based on a statistically sound number of measurements and gas analyses to understand the content of methane and other valuable hydrocarbons. Individual companies may 25 choose an alternative quantification methodology if judged to be more accurate by the company.234: Monitoring and QA/QC requirements. For reference.g.gov/gasstar/documents/partner-updates/ngspartnerup_spring06.epa. the first step is identifying the point(s) where 30 emissions are occurring. 5 Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program. Partners can use other portable 33 instruments if an IR camera is not available (i. Measurements should also be conducted in different operating conditions. 12 13 Quantification Methodology 14 15 To ensure consistent quantification of annual volumetric unstabilized hydrocarbon liquid storage tank 16 methane emissions and comparable evaluation of mitigation options.e. partner companies are encouraged 23 to use one of the following methodologies in order to facilitate consistent. Partners can be 19 more certain of emissions levels and economic costs and benefits (i.. comparable approaches to 24 quantifying emissions levels and evaluating potential reduction volumes.4 With direct measurement. 38 3 EPA. Page 3 of 10 ..pdf.

emissions from storage 24 tanks are not limited to the vent and also can come from defects in the tanks. whereby gas is 16 entrained in the liquid outlet. and standing emissions from liquid transferred to storage 42 tanks with software programs such as AspenTech HYSYS® or E&P TANK. broken or missing caps. (2) sales oil or stabilized oil American Petroleum 45 Institute (API) gravity. or other closure devices. 27 Depending on the location of a leak and piping/vent configuration of a storage tank and the gas flow 28 rate.g. (3) sales oil or stabilized oil production rate. including but not limited 25 to. 21 22 Partners can obtain a value for methane emissions using the total vapor flow over a recorded time 23 and knowledge of the composition of the vapors in the tank. a minimum of the 43 following parameters/operating conditions are necessary to characterize emissions using software 44 programs: (1) separator pressure and temperature. loose or open thief hatch. These measurements will provide the 5 total gas flow rate. Increased emissions from storage tanks above what can be accounted 17 for by flashing at separator pressure and temperature may be due to this leakage and also from 18 vortexing when the separator liquid is very low and there is no vortex breaker installed in the liquid 19 drain nozzle. (4) ambient air pressure and Page 4 of 10 . stuck-open valve and vortexing can also contribute to increased emissions 20 from compressor suction scrubber dump valves that drain to a fixed roof tank. A leaking. gaps in piping. Viewing the tank 12 with an IR camera during measurement will allow Partners to identify those other escape points and 13 take measures to suppress or plug those vents during the measurement. 39 40  Software: 41 Partners can calculate flashing. such as corrosion holes in the roof or the thief hatch if not sealed tightly. The methane flow rate should be extrapolated to account for an entire year of normal operations. Recommended measurement tools include the following: 30 31  Turbine meter 32  Calibrated vent bag 33  Vane anemometer 34  Hotwire anemometer 35  High volume sampler 36 37 For more details regarding each measurement tool including applicability and measurement methods. 9 10 It should be noted that the slight back-pressure of a turbine meter will push emissions out other 11 openings. CCAC O&G Methane Partnership – Technical Guidance Document Number 6: Unstabilized Hydrocarbon Liquid Storage Tanks Modified: 7 December 2015 1 Partners should conduct the measurement over a long enough period to account for variability in flow 2 during tank filling and pump-out (e. 3 to 24 hours). Partners can also take an emissions measurement using a calibrated vent bag or an anemometer 29 (vane or hotwire). holes.Typically. working. loose connections. 14 15 Note that the gas/oil separator vessel liquid level control valve can leak or stick open. Partners can determine an appropriate time 3 period on an individual basis. As noted above. such that the long-term measurement allows for an evaluation of 4 emissions levels during tank filling and pump-out operations. which is then converted to methane emissions using the methane content of the 6 gas. 7 The annual volume of methane emitted is calculated by multiplying the measured average methane 8 emissions flow rate by the annual throughput of the storage tank(s). 38 please refer to Appendix A.. visible cracks. a leaking 26 pressure/vacuum safety valve (ENARDO valve).

software. Page 5 of 10 .3. which can far exceed flashing losses. 18 19  Engineering Estimate of Scrubber Dump Valve Emissions8: 20 Lab analysis and software calculations do not account for scrubber dump valve emissions. so this method 16 is the least complicated in estimating methane emissions. 8 EPA. Subpart W – Petroleum and Natural Gas Systems.233: Calculating GHG emissions. Tn is 39 estimated by maintenance or operations records such that when a record shows the valve 6 EPA. color.1. or lab analysis (scf/y). Section 98.i = Annual total volumetric greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions at standard conditions from 34 each storage tank (scf).6 Note that if separator oil 2 composition and Reid vapor pressure data are not available. Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program. 9 10  Lab Analysis: 11 Another alternative for estimating emissions from storage tanks is to obtain a sample of the oil in the 12 separator and perform a lab analysis to determine how much methane will be vented from this sample 13 as the pressure drops to tank pressure (atmospheric). and the subsequent volume of emissions can be assumed to be the vented 15 volume. therefore.ecfr. Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program. Comparing direct measurement 8 results with software calculation has revealed many instances of dump valve leakage.23&rgn=div6.7 Nearly all methane will flash out of solution from oil at atmospheric pressure. With additional data 5 concerning tank size.? = (??? × × ?? ) + ( × (8760 − ?? )) 8760 8760 31 32 Where: 33 Es. 40 CFR 98. and (5) separator oil composition and Reid vapor pressure.1.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=9db68a97576bb01eea9073c37d6f0e90&node=40:21.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=9db68a97576bb01eea9073c37d6f0e90&node=40:21. 21 if they determine that there is a scrubber dump valve stuck open. Partners can also input more detailed information into the models. computer software can 6 produce more precise emissions estimates. 35 36 En = Storage tank emissions as determined via calculation. 40 CFR 98.ecfr. shape.0. Partners can then apply this ratio to the volume 14 of oil entering the tank. 7 Ibid.1. http://www.233: Calculating GHG emissions. Note that software cannot characterize separator or 7 scrubber dump valve leakage. and internal and ambient temperatures.1. one option is to select default values in 3 the E&P TANK software program that most closely match separator pressure first. CCAC O&G Methane Partnership – Technical Guidance Document Number 6: Unstabilized Hydrocarbon Liquid Storage Tanks Modified: 7 December 2015 1 temperature. but does not accurately characterize total 17 gas emissions (which is necessary to economically evaluate mitigation options).233(j)(1). Section 98.233(j)(8).3. Partners can use the equation below 28 to estimate emissions from stuck-open valves on well pad gas-liquid separators and scrubbers: 29 ?? ?? 30 ??. and scrubber dump valve 25 emissions go through the same vent and are therefore included). then they should also use this method to avoid underestimating emissions from storage 27 tanks (if a scrubber dump valve is indeed confirmed stuck open). http://www.0. Subpart W – Petroleum and Natural Gas Systems. and API gravity 4 second.Partners can account for scrubber 22 dump valve emissions by using a factor applied to a storage tank’s flash emissions. If Partners use software or lab 26 analysis. 37 38 Tn = Total time the dump valve is not closing properly in the calendar year (hours). Partners need to 23 do this only they are not using direct measurement to quantify methane emissions from storage tanks 24 (direct measurement occurs at the storage tank atmospheric vent.23&rgn=div6.

rapid changes in liquids flow through the storage 45 tank(s). and/or suction of a production or gas lift compressor. 28 29 Operational Considerations 30 Virtually any tank battery is a potential site for a VRU. CCAC O&G Methane Partnership – Technical Guidance Document Number 6: Unstabilized Hydrocarbon Liquid Storage Tanks Modified: 7 December 2015 1 to be open improperly. gas lift). fuel gas. and for time 10 period Tn for periods when the dump valve is closed is 1. and natural gasoline and will 26 therefore have higher heat content and a higher value to gas processing plants than pipeline quality 27 natural gas.0. 41 42 Irregular flow of liquids out of the storage tanks can cause large and rapid fluctuations in vapor pressure. and controls. if there is no subsequent 6 record. and routes them through a separator (suction scrubber) to a 20 specifically designed wet gas compressor. Note that a source of electricity is highly desired to power several of the VRU’s 33 components. it is assumed the valve has been open for the entire time period 2 preceding the record starting at either the beginning of the calendar year or the previous 3 record showing it closed properly within the calendar year. compressor suction. the end of the calendar year. or scroll compressor). valves. 40  Associated discharge piping.. From the compressor. 11 12 8. screw. then it is assumed from that time forward the valve closed 5 properly until either the next record of it not closing properly or. The liquids from a separator 24 can be returned to the oil storage tank or collected separately and sold to a processing plant or refinery 25 for a premium price. Included in a standard VRU are: 34 35  Sloping downward suction pipeline manifolded to all tanks. This is an inexpensive way to elevate the crude oil or condensate gas/oil separation above the Page 6 of 10 . butanes.760 = Conversion to hourly emissions.87. for 9 tank emissions for time period Tn for gas condensate production is 5. A 18 VRU first draws hydrocarbon vapors out of a fixed roof storage tank under low pressure. It is important that this suction line only descend from the tank 21 roof to the suction scrubber so as not to form a liquid trap that will inhibit free flow of gas to the 22 compressor. 38  Liquid transfer pump. instruments. 13 14 Mitigation Option A – Recover the tank vapors by installing a VRU system and directing to productive 15 use (e.37. Partners may consider installing a vapor recovery tower (VRT) to ensure the 44 VRU operates within its design capacity even with large. 43 putting stress on the VRU. The recovered vapors are rich in propane. If a subsequent record shows 4 the valve is closing properly. 16 17 One way to reduce emissions of tank vapors is to install vapor recovery units (VRUs) on storage tanks. 36  Suction scrubber (separator). 37  Compressor (typically electric-driven rotary vane. typically between 19 4 ounces and 2 psi gauge pressure. 39  Electronic Programmable Logic Controller (PLC). Two indicators of a potential VRU project are a 31 regular and sufficient quantity of crude oil and/or condensate production and an economic outlet for 32 collected products. local fuel.g. the vapors are routed to their desired location(s) within the facility: a 23 gas sales line. 7 8 CFn = Correction factor for tank emissions for time period Tn for crude oil production is 3.

Installation costs estimated at 75 percent of VRU capital costs.10 although higher pressure ratios are achievable without sacrificing significant efficiency. In considering VRU sizing. 12 given suitable discharge temperature and motor limitations (typical motor operates at 3600 rpm).2. inlet and desired outlet temperatures and pressures for the system. 3 4 Wet screw compressors are often chosen for VRU applications for their ability to achieve high 5 compression ratios (up to 20 in a single stage)9 due to the injection of a significant amount of coolant into 6 the compressor chamber. the volume increase caused by the coolant decreases the effective volume for gas. 2006. 32 33 Estimated VRU and associated installation costs for 25 thousand cubic feet per day (Mcf/day) and 34 500 Mcf/day throughputs (708 scm/d and 14. 2001.000 and $130. Paul C.13 Note that the VRU costs 39 provided are for recovery of hydrocarbon vapors at atmospheric pressure and approximately 70 °F (21 °C) 9 Hanlon. Compressor Handbook. 35 respectively. compressor rod packing vents. 29 Partners would need to account for the maximum throughputs associated with these gas streams in the 30 initial VRU design. Partners can expect to 17 reduce methane emissions from a storage tank by 95 percent after implementing this technology. Compressor Handbook. Examples include pneumatic device vents.epa. 13 The majority of electricity costs will be for powering the compressor motor. Page 7 of 10 .pdf. While this coolant injection lowers gas discharge temperature and improves 7 compressor efficiency. 9 10 The optimal adiabatic efficiency for a single stage screw compressor is achieved at approximately a 3:1 11 pressure ratio. Glycol 31 Dehydrator vent (with a vent condenser). Section 2. 10 Hanlon. for example by routing emissions from several 25 tanks to a single VRU. and composition(s) of the gas 22 being recovered. a VRU can recover 27 other vented or flared gas streams at a facility. respectively. 11 EPA. 12 Assuming typical gas inlet temperature of 21 °C and sales lines discharge pressure of roughly 7 bar.12 Partner and VRU manufacture experience has shown that installation costs range 36 between 50 to 100 percent of the initial VRU equipment cost (75 percent was chosen for economic 37 estimates provided here).000. Partners can calculate an estimate of required electricity with knowledge of kWh electricity price and kWh motor consumption.400 and $21. Section 14. 2001. Partners should consider production forward planning. Partners should size a VRU to handle the maximum volume of vapors expected from the 23 storage tanks (a rule of thumb is to double the average daily volume).158 scm/d) are approximately $45.6.11. http://www. 8 Partners should model screw compressor performance using both factors.000. This would enable Partners to capture these additional gas 28 streams that are currently being lost to the atmosphere and can improve a proposed project’s economics. Natural Gas STAR Lessons Learned: Installing Vapor Recovery Units on Storage Tanks. and controlled equipment blowdowns. 13 14 Methane Emission Reduction Estimate 15 Ideally. Partners should optimize VRU design 24 and cost to maximize emission capture and minimize costs. Yearly operation (primarily electricity) and maintenance costs (O&M) 38 associated with these VRU capacities are $8. CCAC O&G Methane Partnership – Technical Guidance Document Number 6: Unstabilized Hydrocarbon Liquid Storage Tanks Modified: 7 December 2015 1 tank to isolate the vapor recovery from tank liquid movements and minimize methane emissions from the 2 tank.gov/gasstar/documents/ll_final_vap.3. including gas throughput to the 21 VRU. Also. Based on a VRU operating factor of 16 95 percent (allowing 5 percent yearly downtime of the VRU for maintenance). 18 19 Economic Considerations 20 The cost of a VRU is dependent on several design/operational factors. Paul C. VRUs can recover nearly all vapors from a storage tank. 26 so that the VRU can handle planned increased production to the tank battery.

CO2 and/or H2S have higher corrosion rates). August 2007. For those 17 Partners that have a gas sales contract that is based upon the heating value (BTU content) of the gas.158 scm/d).832 scm/d) throughput is $15. respectively. the 24 yearly values of these recovered gas streams15 are approximately $43. propane.epa. http://epa.pdf. respectively. 10 electricity costs. 32 33 Mitigation Option B – Install stabilization towers ahead of tanks to reduce the amount of entrained gas 34 and flash gas emitted from the tank(s). and 3 percent each butane and isobutene. 10 22 percent ethane. For the same mole composition references above and vapor flow rates of 25 Mcf/day and 500 27 Mcf/day (708 scm/d and 14. CCAC O&G Methane Partnership – Technical Guidance Document Number 6: Unstabilized Hydrocarbon Liquid Storage Tanks Modified: 7 December 2015 1 for discharge into a typical sales gas line up to approximately 100 psig pressure and 212 °F (100 °C) 2 temperature. NGL values extrapolated based on methane value of $3/MMBTU. using E&P TANK software. the primary purpose of stabilization towers is to obtain a low 37 oil vapor pressure suitable for loading onto ships and barges or extract more high-value natural gas liquids 38 for gas processing. Discharging gas at lower temperatures will require a discharge air cooler. and other “heavy” hydrocarbons.000. 15 NGL values obtained from EPA presentation: Vapor Recovery Tower/VRU Configuration: Lessons Learned from Natural Gas STAR. For 25 Partners who have access to natural gas liquid plants. the process separates the lightest liquid component (pentane) and heaviest gas component 14 EPA’s Natural Gas Star Lessons Learned: Installing Vapor Recovery Units on Storage Tanks. Page 8 of 10 .gov/gasstar/documents/ll_final_vap.158 scm/d). for a tank holding a medium crude (30° API) at atmospheric 21 pressure and 70° F (21 °C). for VRU throughputs of 25 Mcf/day and 500 Mcf/day (708 scm/d and 14.gov/gasstar/documents/workshops/longbeach-2007/vrt_vru_configuration_08_21_07.5 times an equivalent volume of pipeline quality natural gas. the 15 value of the recovered gas stream is rarely due to the value of methane alone as most tank vapors contain 16 varying amounts of ethane. 5 6 Note that installation costs can vary widely depending primarily on the location of a site (VRU installation 7 at remote sites will likely incur higher costs) and number of tanks being connected to the VRU system. an 4 estimated gas cooler cost for a 5 to 100 Mcf/day (141 scm/d to 2. For reference. 8 O&M costs vary depending on the location of the VRU system (VRUs installed in a cold climate experience 9 more wear). 35 36 In petroleum and gas production facilities.gov/gasstar/documents/workshops/longbeach-2007/vrt_vru_configuration_08_21_07. and oil produced (paraffinic oil can clog VRUs more frequently and therefore require 11 increased maintenance). the purpose of stabilization towers is to separate heavier 39 hydrocarbons and lighter fractions (C1 to C4) prior to transporting and storing crude oil and condensate.16 29 30 For more information. pentanes. Based on these 23 compositions.pdf). the mole composition of vapors is approximately 68 percent methane.14 12 13 Gas value savings associated with installing a VRU take into account recovered high BTU gas and the value 14 of the recovered natural gas liquids (NGLs) in the tank vapors. see Natural Gas STAR technical document “Installing Vapor Recovery Units on 31 Storage Tanks” (http://www.pdf.000 and $864. http://epa.gov/gasstar/documents/ll_final_vap.epa. 19 20 For reference. 40 In either case.000/year. August 2007. In most vapor recovery applications. http://www. 16 2007 Cost Basis obtained from EPA presentation: Vapor Recovery Tower/VRU Configuration: Lessons Learned from Natural Gas STAR. Discharging gas at pressures above 100 psig (6. 8 percent propane. butane. In gas processing facilities. the approximate values of recoverable NGLs (C2 to C4) are 28 $60.000.8 atm) will likely involve a two-stage 3 compressor.pdf. “wet 18 gas” may sell for upwards of 2.000/year and $340. the quality of the gas (high acid content. tank vapors could provide a source to feed these 26 plants.

Handbook of Natural Gas Transmission and Processing. 35  Associated piping used to direct vapors from storage tank(s) to the flare. 5 6 Crude oil or condensate enters the top of stabilization towers and flows down a series of trays. Because stabilization towers are expensive 18 and installed for the specific purposes listed above. some Partners already have them installed and functioning. Section 5: Industrial Flares. CCAC O&G Methane Partnership – Technical Guidance Document Number 6: Unstabilized Hydrocarbon Liquid Storage Tanks Modified: 7 December 2015 1 (butane) through distillation. James A. 4 Stabilization removes virtually all methane from the crude oil or condensate. 37 38 Gas-fired flares may have one or more continuously burning pilot flames or be ignited with an electric 39 spark-ignition system. a VRU. implementation of a flare system requires installation of the following 32 equipment: 33 34  Flare stack. When 7 pressurized crude oil enters the low-pressure column. and/or combustion in a flare. and Speight. Chapter 13.. a stripping gas such as steam may be added near the bottom of the column to provide 12 increased vapor flow and enhance light hydrocarbon (C1 to C4) removal. Volume I. 16 The possible outlets for the recovered gas from stabilization towers include being sent to a gas processing 17 facility. 25 26 Operational Considerations 27 Virtually any vented storage tanks vapors with minimal sulfur content can be routed to an existing flare 28 by installing piping which route the vapors to the flare. 22 Routing storage tank vapors to a flare/combustion device reduces methane emissions to the atmosphere 23 through oxidative combustion of methane. with the 3 additional feature that they can reduce the crude oil vapor pressure below atmospheric pressure. 18 EPA. it is not anticipated that Partners will install them as 19 a retrofit for the sole purpose of controlling methane emissions from tanks. Saeid. 36  Flame arrestor.18 44 17 Mokhatab. 20 21 Mitigation Option C – Route the tank vapors to a flare/combustion device. James G. 13 14 Given the utility of stabilization towers. This 15 technology is considered “mitigated” for methane with regards to liquid petroleum product storage tanks. It is absolutely essential to include a flame arrestor 29 in the flare line near the tank as air drawn into an atmospheric pressure storage tank can form explosive 30 mixtures that could flash-back from the flare flame and explode the tank. Poe. a fuel gas line. AP 42.17 Stabilization towers installed ahead of crude oil storage tanks can serve a 2 similar function as vapor recovery units in reducing methane emissions from storage tanks. flashed vapors exit the top of the tower while 8 “stabilized” crude oil or condensate passes through the bottom of the tower(s) and into storage. 40 41 Methane Emission Reduction Estimate 42 Companies can expect to achieve a 98 percent reduction in methane emissions from routing storage tanks 43 vapors to a flare. and reduces the vapor pressure on the crude product below atmospheric. In addition to 11 the heated reboiler. assuming a properly operated flare (98 percent combustion efficiency). Adding 9 a reboiler on the bottom crude product creates vapor traffic up the tower to strip more light hydrocarbons 10 out of the crude. Page 9 of 10 . If routing to an existing flare is 31 operationally infeasible. Page 249.. Fifth Edition. A flare may continuously receive vent streams from one or 24 several processes and/or pieces of equipment at a facility.

and installation is estimated to be 6 $24.gov/gasstar/documents/installflares. Page 10 of 10 . flaring the tank 13 vapors means that there is less risk of exposure to harmful pollutants for the operators onsite. 904. “Install Flares” 19 (http://www. see: 16  EPA Natural Gas STAR Partner Reported Opportunity Fact Sheet No. 12 thus reducing methane emissions from these sources by combusting the gas.epa. estimated total capital investment for a new flare and flame arrestor. These costs 3 include all piping connections and labor required to route vapors from the tank vent(s) to the flare gas 4 line.pdf). 8 9 Though flaring achieves no economic benefit in terms of gas saved. 5 including an auto-igniter. http://www. 20 21 19 EPA.gov/gasstar/documents/installflares.epa. 904: Install Flares. and associated freighting.19Annual costs are estimated to be approximately $3.000/year for pilot fuel (assuming $5/Mcf) 7 and flare system maintenance. In addition.300.000. 18  EPA Natural Gas STAR Partner Reported Opportunity Fact Sheet No.gov/gasstar/documents/installflares.pdf (Price of flame arrestor estimated at $3.). a flare is an important 10 operational/safety device at a natural gas/oil installation as it can serve as a safe gas disposal outlet for 11 over-pressurized equipment as well as a gas outlet for equipment undergoing maintenance and repairs. 14 15 For more information.epa. “Install Electronic Flare 17 Ignition Devices” (http://www. For a new flare system. Partner Report Opportunities Fact Sheet No.pdf). 903. CCAC O&G Methane Partnership – Technical Guidance Document Number 6: Unstabilized Hydrocarbon Liquid Storage Tanks Modified: 7 December 2015 1 Economic Considerations 2 Minimal capital costs are associated with routing storage tank vapors to an existing flare. design.