11 September 2021 - 15:59
  • News Code: 320908
Least-Polluting Clean Fuel in Iran

TEHRAN (Shana) -- Various industries have established "Health, Safety, Environment" (HSE) departments in order to protect their service workers against life threats, and protect the environment. In the oil and gas industry, due to high sensitivity as well as high-risk oil and gas fields, HSE is of high significance. When it comes to the gas sector, it takes up added significance as natural gas may become more hazardous if security precautions are not taken.

"Iran Petroleum" has interviewed Gholam-Reza Bahman-Nia, HSE chief at National Iranian Gas Company (NIGC), to learn more about HSE activities in the gas industry.

What measures have been taken at NIGC to mitigate environmental pollution, particularly at refineries and specifically at the South Pars gas field?

Projects and ongoing measures related to mitigating pollutants emissions in subsidiaries are a very detailed list of various measures in the areas of management, monitoring and control of air pollutants, wastewater treatment and the establishment of green management. In particular, considering the sensitivities related to pollution in the Assaluyeh region, and following a Cabinet decision during the presidential tour of the region in early 2019, a comprehensive plan to reduce pollution in the Pars Special Economic Zone was developed, which is underway. The plan includes various axes, including establishment of a wastewater treatment system at Site 2, improvement of wastewater treatment systems at Site 1, projects and measures to control and mitigate the sulfur oxides emissions, and plans to reduce and recover flare gas among others. They are being operated with the cooperation of various relevant pillars, such as South Pars Gas Complex (SPGC), Pars Oil and Gas Company (POGC), Special Zone Company and petrochemical companies located in the region.

What measures have been taken for zero-flaring?

Normal flaring is considered a process related to refinery safety, but it is also important in terms of resource loss, as well as environmental pollution. However, this process, in addition to causing air pollution, evokes visual sensitivities and creates the perception of pollution for the viewer. In general, control and reduction of flares at refineries with regard to benefits such as preventing waste of resources, preventing the emission of greenhouse gases due to climate change and reducing air pollution have always been taken into account and in this regard, projects and plans have been under way at refineries. In the first step and initial goal setting, flaring was envisaged to be cut to the designed level. This step was achieved for the first five refineries of South Pars, and even in some refineries the amount of flaring was reduced to less than the planned amount. The next step involves zero flaring with the aim of recovering gas dispatched to flares.

Is there a standard certificate in the field of the environment? What is the status of the gas industry in this regard?

Almost all companies have obtained the ISO 14000 certificate and are maintaining and improving the status of environmental indicators through definition of numerous projects. Regarding establishment of energy management system, according to Article 38 of the Sixth National Development Plan, companies are required to install energy management systems in buildings. To that effect, they have to obtain waste management certificate, energy tag and other technical certificates for buildings. Operational units and industries are legally obliged to implement a periodic monitoring program and measure the amount of emissions of air and waste pollutants. These monitoring programs are often carried out by designated laboratories of the "Department of Environment". In some cases, the provincial DOE branches, while reviewing monitoring reports as well as other measures of industrial units, issue non-pollution certificates to eligible companies.

What is the significance of environmental protection in the gas industry?

Environment protection is one of the fundamental principles and values ​​governing the activities of this organization. This issue is explicitly mentioned by the CEO in the integrated system policy statement and is seriously considered by managers and, of course, employees. The environmental performance of subsidiaries has always been considered as one of the criteria of evaluating the performance of those organizations and the general meetings of subsidiaries, and senior managers of the organization and the Board of Directors of NIGC seriously deals with the quality of related operations and reports. Environmental achievements and significant measures in this area are always rewarded. On the other hand, the main task of the company is to provide clean fuel for various industrial, service, commercial, residential and transportation sectors in the country, and natural gas fuel emits the least amount of pollutants among fossil fuels. Thanks to gas supply, emission of thousands of tonnes of pollutants caused by other fossil fuels would be prevented annually.

How are environmental impacts measured in NIGC development projects?

Generally speaking, according to the company's mission, there is no conflict between the two categories of energy supply and environmental protection, and energy supply does not necessarily lead to the destruction of the environment. However, some processes can naturally be destructive to the environment or involve the exploitation and consumption of natural resources. But the predicted and current patterns in the organization are designed to identify these destructive aspects and eliminate or minimize their risks. Environmental impact assessment done in the phase of feasibility and location of the company's development projects would allow for predicting the environmental impact of the project in the construction, installation and operation phases. Furthermore, the process of identifying and evaluating the environmental aspects of the organization's activities, which is a general and current process in this company and its subsidiaries, covers all the activities of the organization in terms of impact on the environment, and outstanding aspects are considered through control measures. Therefore, clean fuel supply and clean fuel production are not in conflict with each other, and we can supply clean fuel with the least pollution rate  provided that, as mentioned, we can anticipate the environmental consequences of the business and that our facilities are designed in accordance with the standards, our equipment will be properly maintained. Our operator should operate more carefully and compassionately, and pollution mitigation and control systems should be put into service. The main problem of our industries, especially in refineries, is related to design and implementation.

What governing documents exist in the environment sector? Apart from that, has any roadmap been designed for the gas industry?

Fortunately, in the field of environment, governing documents are numerous and diverse. The most important governing document in the environmental domain is the general policies of environmental protection, which were signed on in 2015. The second important document that has been recently published and unveiled is related to the general land management policies that have been recently issued by the country's Management and Planning Organization, which we hope will also go through its legal process. According to these policies, establishment of industries, transportation and agriculture, refineries and petrochemicals, etc. will be regulated, and it will no longer be possible to establish refineries, petrochemicals, steel industries, etc. in any part of the country. In this document, the country is divided into 9 areas, and each area covers three or four provinces, which can compensate for each other's shortcomings. In each area, restrictions, facilities and business environment are specified. There are also environmental goals and programs of the Petroleum Ministry, which are communicated every year. National laws, which include pieces of legislation, are considered one of the most important governing documents in the field of environment. These documents include the Law on Waste Management, the Law on Clean Air, the Law on Soil Protection, and materials related to the environment in the Fifty-Year Law on Socio-Economic and Economic Development. Moreover, some international conventions are considered as governing documents due to the country's membership, which is recognized through the Acts passed by the Islamic Consultative Assembly. Resolutions of the High Council for Environmental Protection are also among the regulations and upstream documents applicable to NIGC. Fortunately, NIGC has a good roadmap to ensure the implementation of these governing documents.

How does the gas sector interact with DOE?

Generally speaking, DOE, as a supervisory organization affiliated with the presidential office, carries out its supervisory duties through its administrations which interact with national gas subsidiaries located in different provinces in addition to pursuing the required legal considerations through mentioned companies. At the staff level, communications and interactions between NIGC and DOE get under way through the HSE General Directorate of the Ministry of Petroleum. We are currently evaluating all the pipeline projects and obtaining permits from DEO, and in this regard we have good interactions with the organization.

How has development of gas infrastructure and replacing petroleum products with gas contributed to environmental pollution mitigation? Has this issue been separately studied?

Yes. Fortunately, the gas industry is known as an environmentally friendly industry. This is because natural gas, as the cleanest fossil fuel, produces less pollution per unit of energy production compared to other fossil energy sources. Furthermore, growing gas consumption and replacing heavier fossil fuels such as diesel, fuel oil, coal, etc. with gas will practically help mitigate air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Today, due to the huge and valuable infrastructure created in the gas supply chain, most of the country's energy demand is met through natural gas, thereby mitigating air pollution in cities.

Do you engage environment-related knowledge-based companies, academic centers and the private sector in the gas industry?

The growing problems and intensification of environmental crises in recent decades in the world have caused the demand for further development of environmental knowledge and technology and the environment is one of the fastest growing areas in terms of technology. In our country, academic centers and knowledge-based companies have significant capacities to meet industrial needs in this field. Therefore, our policy has always been to encourage such centers to follow two-way interaction, identify needs and provide solutions, and develop up-to-date technologies. So far, in the field of waste management, creation of information technology infrastructure and environmental software, cooperation with the said centers has been fruitful and good success has been achieved in this field. In fact, many private companies serve as environmental advisors. For example, the EIA studies of projects are now carried out by these companies at the level of subsidiaries.

Mahnaz Mohammad-Qoli

Courtesy of Iran Petroleum

News Code 320908


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