Addressing Oil & Gas Environmental Regulatory Requirements
Oil & Gas Regulatory Roundup
NGL Extraction and RMP/PSM Impacts
As upstream producers work to innovate in a challenging downturn, some operators may be expanding into the business of natural gas processing or natural gas liquid (NGL) extraction. Natural gas processing facilities or facilities handling NGL can be subject to an array of requirements under the Risk Management Program (RMP) and process safety programs. Changes in upstream operations can impact any previous RMP applicability determinations, which may need to be revisited.
The 13th Global Congress on Process Safety, held in San Antonio, TX in March 2017 and sponsored by the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE), included several informative presentations and sharing of best practices to improve process safety programs such as RMP of Process Safety Management (PSM) throughout industry. Regardless of whether you're subject to the RMP or not, some key themes emerged that can be applied to any facility:
- Beyond compliance: Process safety is integral to reliability and operational excellence leading to increased uptime and reduced cost.
- Human factors: Training, clear and concise operating procedures, and thorough hazard analyses are still key to preventing incidents.
- Technology: Innovative tools for managing "big data" can enhance asset integrity and avoid unplanned shutdowns.
- Lessons learned: Case studies and learnings from past incidents are especially important for the new generation of engineers and operators.
- Changing regulatory climate: The status of federal level PSM/RMP regulatory revisions may be uncertain, but states such as California are moving ahead with their own programs to enhance existing rules.
The congress on process safety reminds us that there's still much to be learned and opportunities to take advantage of best practices in this mature program.
If you are interested in learning more about these programs and their requirements, join Trinity Consultants for a 1.5 day training course covering the RMP and PSM requirements to be held in Boston on October 18-19, 2017. Click here for more information on this training opportunity.
EPA's Information Collection Request for Oil and Gas Sources - The Latest Updates
On September 23, 2016, EPA released the most recent draft Information Collection Request (ICR) for oil and gas operations, intended to provide EPA with data to develop standards for existing sources at oil and gas facilities. EPA has now released “a mailing list for each industry segment included in the ICR”of those expected to receive the Information Collection Request. To develop the list, EPA mined information from greenhouse gas (GHG) reports, 2014 National Emissions Inventory (NEI) data, Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration (PHMSA) reports, 2014 DrillingInfo data, Midwest Publishing online directories, and state agency permitting efforts. EPA is asking operators to log into the mailing list and update their contact information, if necessary, so that the ICRs can quickly reach the intended party. The mailing list can be accessed here: https://oilandgasicr.rti.org/
Operators will have a limited time frame to respond to these requests, and information gathered will drive future regulation development for existing oil and gas sources. The ramifications of this ICR can be far reaching, and very impactful to the regulated community.
The ICR has two parts:
An “operator survey” designed to obtain readily available information on the number and type of equipment at all onshore oil and gas production facilities in the US; and
A “facility survey” to collect detailed information on emissions sources and emissions control devices or practices in use at facilities in the onshore production, gathering and boosting, processing, compression/ transmission, pipeline, natural gas storage, and LNG storage and import/export facilities. The more detailed survey will be sent to a representative sample of facilities rather than industry wide.
Trinity can help several ways:
- Providing as needed, on-call support to assist with the data collection and data entry efforts relating to both Part One and Part Two surveys;
- Providing on-site assistance in the data collection and organization for Part One surveys;
- Performing off-site work to complete the data collection process for Part One surveys;
- Providing 'boots-on-the-ground' support to perform the required component counts for Part Two surveys;
- Performing or revising tank emission calculations for Part Two surveys;
- On-site data collection for operational details of pneumatics, dehydrators, separators, compressors, control devices, and other equipment for Part Two surveys; and
- Real-time analysis of reported data, and a thorough review to ensure all reported data is complete and representative.
For more information on how Trinity can support your response to this ICR, please contact Georgette Reeves at (512) 349-5800, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sweeping Changes to Offshore Air Quality Regulations Proposed
On March 17, 2016, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) proposed a rule regulating air emissions from the offshore oil and gas production segment. The rule, in its pre-publication phase, is open for comments; those comments will be due no later than 60 days following publication in the Federal Register.
This proposed rule would amend existing BOEM regulations related to air quality measurement, evaluation, and control with respect to oil, gas, and sulphur operations on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) of the United States (U.S.), in the Central and Western Gulf of Mexico (GOM) and the area offshore the North Slope Borough of the State of Alaska, as part of the BOEM approval process for offshore oil and gas exploration and development plans, right-of-use and easement (RUE), pipeline rights-of-way (ROW), and lease term pipeline applications. In general, the proposed rules include:
- BACT and air dispersion modeling requirements for relevant criteria and major precursor air pollutants, and cross-referencing the standards for pollutants against EPA's requirements
- Clarification of the state boundary for purposes of determining potential air quality impacts
- Requirements to aggregate emissions from multiple facilities owned or controlled by the same owner/ operator that are intended to be part of one unit or project; and
- Updates to calculation methodologies of emissions from support vessels.
For more information regarding this important rulemaking, contact Rahul Pendse at email@example.com or by phone at (225) 346-4003.
Bureau of Land Management's Proposed Waste Prevention Rule
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is proposing new regulations to reduce waste of natural gas from venting, flaring, and leaks during oil and natural gas production activities on onshore Federal and Indian leases. The regulations clarify when produced gas lost through venting, flaring, or leaks is subject to royalties and when oil and gas production used on site would be royalty-free. This proposal is the first time BLM has updated waste provisions in over 30 years. Learn more...
More Regulatory Developments
- In March, 2016, EPA sent finalized versions of both NSPS OOOOa and the oil and gas “Source Aggregation Rule” to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) - its last stop before becoming codified in the Federal Register. Stay tuned for developments.
- On April 15, 2014, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released five technical white papers covering what it considers to be potentially significant sources of emissions in the oil and gas industry. The white papers focus on technical issues covering emissions and mitigation techniques for methane and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the upstream and midstream oil and gas sectors of the industry. Learn more...
- In 2012, EPA finalized a suite of NSPS and NESHAP rules regulating emissions from the oil and natural gas production, processing, and transmission segments. EPA then revised those rules in late 2013. Widely heralded as “fracking regulations,” these rules regulate much more than hydraulic fracturing at natural gas wellheads, oil and gas production, gas gathering, and natural gas processing facilities. Other covered emission sources include:
- Reciprocating and centrifugal compressors
- Storage vessels
- Pneumatic controllers
- Fugitive equipment leaks at natural gas processing plants
- Sweetening units at natural gas processing plants
- Dehydration units
- With a rule that became effective in 2011, EPA established major, synthetic minor, and minor source registration and permitting requirements in Indian country. Registration for existing minor sources was required by March 1, 2013. Up to September 2, 2014, new or modified minor sources must also be registered. After September 2, 2014, new or modified minor sources must be permitted. Even the registration process requires potential and actual emission estimates. After August 30, 2011, new or modified major sources and synthetic minor sources must be permitted prior to construction.
- On September 28, 2012, the oil and natural gas industry began reporting greenhouse gases (GHGs) for the first time through EPA's mandatory GHG reporting rule (40 CFR 98, Subpart W). Trinity has been assisting oil and natural gas operators with quantification and calculation of GHGs from the required sources identified in the rule, and has oil and gas regulatory experts on-hand to assist your facility with meeting the September 28, 2012 deadline.
Trinity is a unique consulting firm that has the oil and gas operational knowledge and air quality experience needed to fully support our operations. - John Satterfield, Director of Environmental, Access Midstream
Upstream: Oil and Natural Gas Production
Trinity operates offices in or near every major oil and natural gas production basin throughout the United States. From shale plays to conventional oil and natural gas production, Trinity has a wealth of experience in this industry and is deeply familiar with the unique challenges faced by this industry in terms of air quality and other environmental compliance matters. Widespread geographic operations, dynamic regulations, and increased public scrutiny are all factors in the permitting and compliance realm for this industry; Trinity can assist your operations with navigating the process in a way that maximizes flexibility while enhancing compliance.
Midstream: Natural Gas Boosting and Processing
Trinity works with midstream operators throughout the U.S. to meet their permitting and regulatory needs. From natural gas boosting through natural gas processing, Trinity assists operators with regulatory compliance, compliance auditing, permitting and air dispersion modeling for natural gas boosting and processing operations.
Regulatory Impact Support
With the air quality rules constantly evolving, small-, mid- and even large-size operators are in need of additional support when reviewing the regulations and evaluating the potential impact these regulations may have on their operations. Trinity can provide your organization with additional horsepower, technical expertise, and industry-wide context while reviewing these regulations and their impact on your facilities.
For instance, air quality permitting thresholds and requirements for oil and gas operations can differ substantially from state to state. Trinity's wealth of experience in the oil and gas producing states uniquely positions us to help clients strategically plan around those differences. Trinity recently presented a breakout session at the Oil and Gas Environmental Conference where oil and gas state air permitting requirements were compared and contrasted.
Trinity's breadth of expertise for oil and gas clients extends beyond air quality. Trinity's capabilities include oil and gas safety, behavior-based safety, SPCC applicability through an objective means, SPCC plans, SWPPP, waste management consulting, and other environmental requirements.
Trinity is assisting a variety of operators throughout the industry by performing air quality compliance auditing for their facilities. From gas plants to production well pads, transmission sites, etc., Trinity can review sites with a knowledgeable eye, and provide maximum value for on-site visits, and identify and document potential areas of exposure and liability so that problem areas can be resolved prior to an inspection.
Many companies utilize a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) to gain an understanding of potential environmental contamination liabilities prior to property transfer. Trinity's compliance auditing capabilities reach much deeper than a typical Phase I ESA to help clients also understand potential compliance liabilities associated with a property transfer.
EMIS Selection, Implementation, Support, and Recovery
Many oil and natural gas operators are implementing electronic solutions to manage compliance (EH&S management information systems, or EMIS). The biggest challenge can be selecting a system that works for your operations. Trinity can facilitate an unbiased on-site meeting and gap analysis prior to meeting with software vendors so that you know the questions to ask, the tricks of the trade, and potential pitfalls.
If your company has already selected and/or purchased a system, Trinity can assist with EMIS implementation, validate calculations and data inputs, and (in some cases) even provide lifeline support when an EMIS implementation is on the brink of collapse. Trinity has worked with a wide variety of EMIS providers, and knows the ins and outs of the software products as well as the critical stress points of an EMIS implementation.
For assistance, contact your nearest Trinity office at (800) 229-6655 or Georgette Reeves at (512) 349-5800 x1004 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.