May 2020, Vol. 247, No. 5


ExxonMobil Proposes Framework for Methane Regulations

PGJ Staff Report

ExxonMobil has released a model framework for industry-wide methane regulations that includes specific guidance related to transmission pipeline blowdowns between compressor stations. 

Darren Woods, chairman and CEO of the Irving, Texas-based energy company, said it has been applying the principals outlined in the framework to its oil and natural gas operations for the past several years, “resulting in improvements that demonstrate what’s practicable and achievable.”

To achieve meaningful reductions in methane emissions, the company said, regulations should address and include four primary requirements:

  • Leak detection and repair programs across oil and gas infrastructure
  • Minimization of venting
  • Operational equipment controls
  • Record keeping and reporting to support agency enforcement

It included recommendations to minimize excessive venting from pneumatic pumps and transmission pipeline blowdowns between compressor stations.  Blowdowns involve reducing system pressure or completely depressurizing pipe, typically for maintenance activities.

The company’s proposed regulatory practice for blowdowns includes the following steps:

  • Route gas to a compressor or capture system for beneficial use
  • Route gas to a low-pressure system by taking advantage of existing piping connections between high- and low-pressure systems, temporarily resetting or bypassing pressure regulators to reduce system pressure prior to maintenance.
  • Use hot tapping, a procedure that makes a new pipeline connection while the pipeline remains in service, flowing natural gas under pressure, to avoid the need to blow down gas.

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