The WRAP Oil & Gas Workgroup was formed to gain a better understanding of the significant air pollutant emissions related to oil and gas exploration, production and gathering activities across the WRAP region. An extensive network of continually operating field equipment and processing plants (responsible for removing contaminants and separation of various commercial compounds from the produced hydrocarbons) on state-regulated and tribal lands contribute to these emissions.
Workgroup activities related to Oil and Gas Exploration and Production (E&P) operations in the Western United States include:
- Quantifying emission inventories from stationary and mobile equipment operated as part of the exploration and production activities;
- Examining environmental impacts (Regional Haze, Ozone, Rural PM, Greenhouse Gases); and
- Exploring other initiatives to assess, evaluate and control problems associated with oil and gas development
The O&G Workgroup has held approximately bi-monthly calls since mid-2008 to review inventory results and discuss other Western O&G issues, impact evaluation techniques and control strategies for the industry. Links to the call agendas and summary notes are available at the right.
Historically, emissions from large stationary sources related to oil and gas processing were regulated through existing Regulatory Agency permitting programs, while smaller sources (compressor engines, drill rigs, heaters, dehydrators, tank vents, flares, etc) fell below Agency permitting thresholds. Individually, emissions from these smaller sources could be considered minor. However, increasing energy demands and continuing oil and gas field development make the cumulative effect of emissions from these smaller sources a significant issue, and were generally incompletely quantified.
The WRAP recognized this information gap and formed the Oil and Gas Workgroup to address the deficiencies. In late 2005, the WRAP completed the Phase I O&G emission inventory project to estimate, for the first time, regional emission totals from these field operations. The Phase II project, completed in 2007, addressed certain uncertainties and assumptions from Phase I and was able to more fully characterize the O&G Field Operations emissions. These WRAP inventories identified more than 100,000 TPY of NOX emissions in the WRAP region which had not previously been included in regional air quality assessment. Significant totals of other pollutants, such as VOC’s, which are critical in the evaluation of Regional Haze and other air quality management issues, were also identified. Further explanation, results and reports of the Phase I & II inventory can be found on the archived WRAP website here
. Additional information on general issues related to O&G activities can be found here
Funded by members of the Western Energy Alliance (formerly Independent Petroleum Association of Mountain States – IPAMS) the Phase III project began in late 2007 and aimed to further improve the accuracy of these emission inventories. The WRAP has worked in conjunction with this group to ensure data and results are widely distributed among non-industry stakeholders (State/Local Agencies, Tribal Air Programs, Federal Land Managers, Environmental Groups and the EPA). This wider participation was viewed as necessary to assure review and feedback such that the final inventories were understood and more universally accepted by those involved in and affected by O&G development in the Intermountain West.