24 April 2022 - 15:21
  • News Code: 456005
Greenhouse Gas Emissions Falling in NISOC-Run Areas

TEHRAN (Shana) -- Oil companies in Iran are required to curb their greenhouse gas emissions. National Iranian South Oil Company (NISOC), which supplies 80% of Iran’s oil, has adopted a series of measures including gas flaring control, energy loss management and processing supervision to cut greenhouse gas emissions by many affiliated production companies. Mohammad Reza Naderi, head of HSE at NISOC, tells “Iran Petroleum” that production of 33 million tonnes of carbon dioxide could be prevented.

The following is the full text of the interview Naderi gave to“Iran Petroleum”  .

How does NISOC deal with environmental issues, specifically air quality which has turned into a national issue in recent years?

First of all, let me offer a scope of the extent of operation by NISOC. NISOC covers the provinces of Khuzestan, Kohguiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad, Bushehr, Fars, Ilam and Lorestan. The company supplies 80 percent of the country's oil and about 20 percent of its gas. Obviously, due to its activities on such a large scale and with a high volume of oil production, the company deals with thousands of oil and gas wells, numerous and scattered operational units and hundreds of thousands of kilometers of the main pipeline. In this vast area, there are various ecosystems, different topographies, drinking and irrigation and water dams as well as numerous protected areas, which shows the great importance of the area in terms of environmental issues. As you know, some of NISOC installations are ageing, therefore, any process or operational changes in the complex and facilities will also affect its surroundings. It is noteworthy that development of residential areas has also overshadowed the safety zones of the company's installations, therefore, their proximity to industrial zones without observing pre-determined boundaries, will double their impact on industrial activities. However, in addition to its commitment for environmental protection, the company has also defined and implemented several environmental projects to control and reduce environmental pollutants. All our efforts are focused on using the installations and equipment and executing processes in line with the environment and in this way we have never shirked from our main mission. On the other hand, we have to admit that we, as an oil company, have our own pollution and we may cause pollution unintentionally or in the event of an emergency. In this regard, the environmental problems of NISOC have been identified and necessary operational plans have been defined and developed for all of them. We also have good interactions with provincial departments of environment, emphasizing the observance of legal requirements in the scope of the company's activities, so that a combination of experience and technical know-how of oil industry staff with the environmental knowledge of provincial departments of environment has resolved many problems. With this introduction, I should say that numerous environmental projects or programs have been defined in various sectors, especially in the field of air quality. Among the company's programs are gas flaring prevention, self-declaration reports on sources of pollution, cooperation with the Khuzestan provincial department of the environment in monitoring and controlling air pollution, using mobile oil treaters (MOT) and mobile oil separators (MOS) and green burners, injecting waste to disposal wells and building a standard evaporation poll, conducting environmental impact assessment (EIA) reports, management of waste, management of drilling cuttings, combating hazes as a public interest measure and green space projects.

Why is there gas flaring?

Flares are essentially designed as a safety measure for a factory and based on engineering standards for emergency conditions. The main reasons for excess gas flaring are gas burning with the aim of creating safe operating conditions, gas burning due to operational and repair problems, gas burning due to power outages in oil and gas factories, gas burning due to non-receipt of gas by downstream industries. These cases lead to flaring until the problem is resolved. In fact, flares are not used as permanent equipment and are used due to the need in emergency situations. Therefore, it is not possible to remove the flare completely, but it is ensured that continuous flaring will be prevented by implementing plans to prevent the flaring of associated gas.

What have been NISOC’s major measures in gas gathering?

Numerous projects have been defined by NISOC’s Corporate Planning Division to prevent gas flaring, some of which have become operational and some are in the implementation stage. On the other hand, by attracting investors, projects such as collecting 593 mcf/d of Aghajari and Gachsaran associated gas, gathering 249 mcf/d of flare gas at Karoun and Maroun are being implemented. Furthermore, the private sector has been engaged in two flare gas gathering projects, including 3.5 mcf/d in Parsi Cluster and 22 mcf/d in Maroun. In compliance with HSE requirements in all of NISOC projects, effective measures have been included in the agenda of the relevant managements and units. For example, in all output preservation and enhancement projects (28 reservoir projects), which are currently being implemented as a megaproject, environmental requirements, especially treatment of contaminated soils, reuse of effluents, basic management of drilling rigs and no flaring are considered. And this issue has been emphasized as an obligation in the contracts between us. I emphasize NISOC’s support for private companies. Other measures undertaken to help improve air quality include using MOT and MOS. This equipment was first used by Karoun Oil and Gas Production Company, an offshoot of NISOC. All affiliates are now using these facilities and NISOC currently owns 15 such devices. There are also devices that have been rented from other companies. This equipment prevents the burning of oil in the fuel pit during workover or reclamation of wells, and thus contributes significantly to reducing the emission of pollutants into the air. For example, from April 2020 to March 2021, the amount of oil collected due to the use of MOT and MOS equipment is 17,220 barrels of oil in Karun Company and 154,702 barrels in Maroun Company, which was previously burned, is now collected and returned to the operational units. At NIOC, the amount of greenhouse gas emissions is calculated annually according to the instructions and guidelines of the Petroleum Ministry. In the method of calculating the emission inventory of greenhouse gases, various sources including emissions from fixed combustion sources, flare, volatile emissions and indirect emissions such as emissions due to electricity consumption are considered. It is worth mentioning that due to the lack of liquid combustion, the source does not emit greenhouse gases. Comparative statistics from 2016 to 2020 show that the amount of greenhouse gas emissions in many companies operating in NISOC-run areas has decreased. This has been achieved through gas flaring control, process monitoring, energy waste management and implementation of gas flaring prevention projects. The company is also committed to implementing appropriate control measures to reduce emissions to the minimum possible in the event of air inversion. According to international standards, many of the world's leading oil companies have announced to reduce per capita greenhouse gas emissions by less than 20 kg per barrel. According to the available statistics, NISOC has now been able to be in the range of international standards in two of its subsidiary companies in the area of impact in Ahvaz (Karun and Maroun oil and gas production companies), where it has limited gas emissions to below 20kg. If the above-mentioned gas gathering projects are implemented, our company will have the ability to fulfill the commitment of the Paris agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions for the whole country. With the full operation of the projects and during the production ceiling, the emission of about 33 million tonnes of CO2 can be prevented. Of course, let us not forget that the Paris agreement also applies to all industries in the country, which fortunately, the petroleum industry is also a leader in this field. On the other hand, due to the need of petrochemical companies for the gas produced by NIOC, these companies have also entered the field of associated gas projects. Considering plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the downstream sectors of the petroleum industry, greenhouse gas emissions will also be significantly reduced. Obviously, the share of the petroleum industry in the emission of greenhouse gases in the whole country is much lower than other industries and resources (especially mobile sources), but the company has taken all possible steps to significantly reduce the amount of greenhouse gases. I should also announce that the NISOC’s Environmental Protection Division, following National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC)’s guide, has developed software that has facilitated the calculation of pollutant emissions. This software has won the NIOC approval and now other oil companies also use this software. It is crystal clear that performing accurate calculations and collecting pollutant emission data is the first step to formulate principled and correct operational plans in order to reduce pollutant emissions.

When will Khuzestan residents see no flaring?

Associated gas gathering projects started for the first time in the 1960s and now up to 80% of the associated gas production is collected. These data show that NISOC has made a serious determination to reduce flaring, as facts on the ground attest to. This has been achieved through implementation of projects to prevent flaring of associated gas, control of gas burning and continuous monitoring of the process conditions by specialized and experienced groups in the petroleum industry. According to available statistics, it is clear that a significant amount of air pollutants has been prevented. As mentioned above, flares are not used as permanent equipment, but are just used due to emergency needs. Therefore, it is not possible to completely remove the flare due to the operational need in special circumstances, but it is ensured that continuous flaring is prevented and reduced to a minimum by implementing plans to prevent combustion of associated gases. According to the studies performed (according to the forecast of production and distribution of gas 2021-2025), if the conditions are provided and problems are solved, with the implementation of environmental programs and projects, all the flare gas will be zero by 2025. Financial problems, operational cases and unforeseen events are other reasons for the difference in forecast and performance.

Can the goals be reached as long as sanctions are in effect?

The zero-flaring scenario in 2025 has been developed on the assumption of persistence of the present circumstances. In such a way that thanks to the opportunities obtained due to sanctions and through the use of services and internal empowerment, we seek to realize projects. To this end, in many sectors of the industry, using the ability of domestic experts and specialists, basic and effective measures have been taken and the experience gained will help the industry even if the current unjust sanctions remain effective or are lifted.

Is there enough budget for environmental activities?

Project applicants follow up on the announced routes through specified channels. In this process, the HSE  Directorate has a supervisory aspect, which can help prioritize environmental projects. Fortunately, due to the importance of the environment, the managers of this company are also committed to protecting the environment. This has played an important role in seeking approval, providing liquidity and promoting environmental projects. Obviously, improving financial conditions plays an important role in accelerating the implementation of environmental projects.

Do you have any short-term plans to blunt the impact of existing flares?

NISOC, using the knowledge of petroleum industry experts and potential of oil service workers, has managed to implement smoke-free flares as a short-term solution. Smoke-free flares are aimed at more efficient flaring of associated gas in a bid to increase the output of combustion. The environmental advantages of these projects are full combustion of hydrocarbons and preventing hazardous airborne particles, preventing emission of unburned hydrocarbons particularly aromatics and reducing their associated environmental and health risks and preventing emission of the poisonous carbon monoxide. This project was implemented as a pilot in operational units No. 2 and 3 of Karun Oil and Gas Production Company in Ahvaz. Due to the success of the project, the necessary planning is underway to improve the flares of other oil and gas companies, especially at Maroun Company. Furthermore, using the capabilities of domestic private companies, the type of flares is being improved. Currently, a local company in Khuzestan province is active in this field and by  making changes in some flares and after installing them, we are witnessing a significant reduction in the emission of pollutants. Considering the previously announced cases, using the capabilities of domestic companies in this field can be considered as a clear example of turning a threat into an opportunity at NISOC.

Do you also involve academic expertise in pollutant reduction?

NISOC has an R&T division, one of whose tasks is to link the petroleum industry and university. Numerous research projects have been planned in this division, the output of which is used as designated solutions to solve the company's problems. A meeting with university professors in the field of air quality is also planned to benefit from their views and experiences as scientific experts in improving the methods of work. Our concern, not only as employees of this company but also as citizens, is to solve the problems of pollution and this issue has caused us to follow the executive plans of this sector more seriously.

Courtesy of Iran Petroleum

News Code 456005

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