This edition of the Oil & Gas Measurement Podcast features Robert Ward of Kuva Systems discussing the latest technology being deployed in the field to support methane leak detection and measurement.
In this episode, you will learn about how methane detection technology has progressed over the past 15 years, the drivers behind a new wave of methane detection tools, some of the projects that Robert’s team at Kuva have supported using their technology, and what to expect from the technology in the future.
Methane Leak Detection: Show Notes, Links, and Insider Terms
- Robert Ward is an advisor, innovation advocate, and technology strategist in areas that include LPWAN, Edge Computing, and Sensor to SCADA to Cloud connectivity and migrations. Connect with Robert on LinkedIn.
- Kuva Systems offers an industrial IoT platform that provides a fully automated, image-based, continuous methane monitoring and quantification solution. This enables upstream and midstream oil and gas companies to improve their operations and meet ESG and methane intensity goals.
- Kuva™ is an industrial IoT solution that continuously monitors and quantifies the intensity of methane and VOC emissions.
- Ward BDC provided innovative, comprehensive, and flexible solutions for the connected world by listening to our customers, partners, and employees, utilizing our design and technical excellence, and creating a culture where employees develop and grow. Their technologies include Cellular, LoRaWAN, and Cloud Device Management.
- Kuva Systems offers an industrial IoT platform that provides a fully automated, image-based, continuous methane monitoring and quantification solution. This enables upstream and midstream oil and gas companies to improve their operations and meet ESG and methane intensity goals.
- Midstream refers to points in the oil production process that falls between upstream and downstream. In particular, midstream activities include the storage, processing, and transportation of petroleum products. These may include companies that specialize in operating tanker ships, pipelines, or storage facilities.
- Upstream segment of the oil and gas industry contains exploration activities, which include creating geological surveys and obtaining land rights, and production activities, which include onshore and offshore drilling.
- VOC (volatile organic compounds) are chemicals that are released into the atmosphere when coatings are applied.
- Environment, Health & Safety (EHS): The “E” of EHS indicates the regulations that are designed to protect the environment. The “S” refers to regulations intended to protect the safety of employees on worksites and the “H” is the health of employees. Often, H and S are merged together and regulated by the same agency, whereas the E is regulated by a specific environmental agency.
- FLIR (Forward Looking Infrared) refers to the technology used to create an infrared image of a scene without having to “scan” the scene with a moving sensor, which is what was previously required. FLIR cameras use long waves to capture images.
- Shortwave Infrared (SWIR) cameras provide non-thermal short-wave infrared image quality and performance over a wide range of imaging and light level conditions.
- GHGSat has developed a satellite specifically designed to look for and monitor facility-level emissions in oil and gas.
- Kairos Aerospace improves operational excellence for the oil industry with cost-effective, efficient methane reductions. Their transformative technology gives the oil and gas industry the power to achieve its safety and environmental goals at the lowest possible cost.
- METEC facility is a unique testing and research facility as part of the Colorado State University system that focuses on emissions detection and quantification, methods development, and training. METEC also created a test protocol called ADED.
- ADED (Advancing Development of Emissions Detection) is a methane sensing test protocol created by METEC allowing oil & gas operators to compare sensing technologies of different types with a common performance metric. Kuva is one of only four to complete the protocol.
- Guided Wave Radar is based on microwave technology. The device sends a low-energy microwave pulse down a probe. When the pulse hits the media, a significant proportion of the energy is reflected back up the probe to the device. The level is directly proportional to the time-domain reflectometry. Because a proportion of the emitted pulse will continue down the probe, an interface can also be detected.
- Hydrocarbons in gases typically have carbon numbers that range from C1 to C6. Most streams are composed of predominantly C1-C4 hydrocarbons, which have low melting and boiling points and high vapor pressures.
- Methane (C1) is typically the dominant component of natural gas mixtures. Usually accompanying C1 are other hydrocarbon gases, including ethane (C2), propane (C3), isobutane (i-C4), and normal butane (n-C4).
- Petrochemicals are chemical products derived from petroleum, although many of the same chemical compounds are also obtained from other fossil fuels such as coal and natural gas or from renewable sources such as corn, sugar cane, and other types of biomass.
- Natural Gas Liquids (NGL) are components of natural gas that are separated from the gas state in the form of liquids. This separation occurs in a field facility or a gas processing plant through absorption, condensation, or other methods.
- Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) is natural gas that has been cooled to a liquid state (liquefied), at about -260° Fahrenheit, for shipping and storage. The volume of natural gas in its liquid state is about 600 times smaller than its volume in its gaseous state in a natural gas pipeline.
- BlackRock is the world’s largest asset manager that guides individuals, financial professionals, and institutions in building better financial futures. BlackRock has approximately $9.5 trillion assets under management.
- Engine No. 1 is an investment firm purpose-built to create long-term value by driving positive impact through active ownership. Engine No. 1 has an executive team with decades of experience investing in, creating, building, and operating businesses.
- Quad Oa identifies compressor stations, pneumatic controllers, compressors, and storage vessels as sources of methane emissions. Emission limitations were placed on those sources under the New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) for volatile organic compound (VOC) and methane emissions across the oil and gas industry which included production, gathering and processing, transmission, storage, and distribution. This regulation included increased leak monitoring, recording, and reporting, as well as adding the requirement of optical gas imaging surveys.
- Optical Gas Imaging (OGI) is commonly utilized as a leak detection method in the upstream and midstream sectors of the U.S. natural gas industry. The method utilizes a video camera filtered to an absorption band of methane to image and detect natural gas emissions
- Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is a U.S. federal government agency responsible for protecting human health and the environment.
- Specifically related to oil & gas is the 86 FR 63110 Standards of Performance for New, Reconstructed, and Modified Sources and Emissions Guidelines for Existing Sources.
- Fugitive Emissions include emissions from all non-combustion sources as well as from waste gas disposal activities.
- Pneumatic Level Controller works with a control valve to provide liquid level control in oil and gas production. Producers typically employ these controllers on production vessels like horizontal and vertical three-phase separators.
- Project Canary is the data-driven foundation of the energy ESG marketplace. We accelerate progress to net-zero with continuous monitoring and uncompromising certification technology.
- MiQ is an independent, not-for-profit foundation established by RMI and SYSTEMIQ to facilitate a rapid reduction in methane emissions from the oil and gas sector.
- S&P Oil & Gas Exploration & Production Select Industry Index (the “Index”) represents the oil and gas exploration and production segment of the S&P Total Market Index (“S&P TMI”). The S&P TMI is designed to track the broad U.S. equity market.
- The Bakken Formation is one of the largest contiguous deposits of oil and natural gas in the United States. It is an interbedded sequence of black shale, siltstone, and sandstone that underlies large areas of northwestern North Dakota, northeastern Montana, southern Saskatchewan, and southwestern Manitoba. The shales are organic-rich and of marine origin. They are rich source rocks for oil and natural gas.
- The SCOOP (South Central Oklahoma Oil Province) and STACK (Sooner Trend Anadarko Canadian Kingfisher) are oil reserves that run across most of western Oklahoma and into the Texas panhandle in the Anadarko Basin.
- The Anadarko Basin is a geologic depositional and structural basin centered in the western part of the state of Oklahoma and the Texas Panhandle, and extending into southwestern Kansas and southeastern Colorado.
- The Permian Basin is an oil-and-gas-producing area located in West Texas and the adjoining area of southeastern New Mexico.
- The Eagle Ford Shale is a hydrocarbon-producing geological formation extending over 26 counties. It stretches from the Mexican border between Laredo and Eagle Pass up through counties east of Temple and Waco.
- Enardo Vent Valves are engineered for increased sealing limiting fugitive emissions as well as minimizing evaporated tank liquid escape.
Methane Leak Detection: Full Episode Transcript
Weldon Wright: Welcome to the Oil & Gas Measurement Podcast, episode 4, sponsored by GCI, the Gas Certification Institute, providing training, standard operating procedures, consulting, and field operations software to the oil and gas industry for over 20 years. For more info on GCI, visit GasCertification.com.
Announcer: Welcome to the Oil & Gas Measurement Podcast, where measurement professionals, Bubba geeks, and gurus share their knowledge, experience, and likely a tall tale or two on measurement topics for the oil and gas industry. And now, your host Weldon Wright.
Weldon: Welcome to episode four of the Oil & Gas Measurement Podcast, and thank you for listening. The Oil & Gas Measurement Podcast is the newest member of the Pipeline Podcast Network joining the Pipeliners Podcast and the Pipeline Technology Podcast.
We have Robert Ward here today with us from Kuva Systems. He’s the Vice President of Business Development. Robert, tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got there at Kuva.
Robert Ward: You bet. Weldon, first of all, thanks for having me over here today, and it’s good to be back. I’ve been in the oil and gas industry for about 30 years now. About five years ago, I started Ward BDC doing business development consulting.
Anyway, I got introduced through some friends in Alberta with Kuva. It seemed like they had just such a unique technology addressing a piece of the market that’s really growing, and that’s around monitoring the methane, VOCs, and emissions monitoring, and measurement and mitigation.
Anyway, we worked together for just about a year before I joined them full-time in October. It’s just crazy what’s happening in the market. As long as I’ve been in the space, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything where the market is adopting with innovation to address these new issues.
Weldon: Robert, I think we’ve got the right guy here to talk on the subject. I know when I first started hearing all of the intensive interest and concern around not just measuring but capturing methane.
I had to think back more years than I would admit back to when detecting methane meant in the open space, we would shoot laser across some space and tell if it was there. We were only worried back then about safety — fire safety, explosion safety. Things have come a long, long way. Talk a little bit about it if you can, what the technology has been and where you see it headed right now.
Robert: You bet. The point detectors like that laser would typically be used, like you said, for safety and be used around a plant or large compressor stations. They were there to save people’s lives. They would interact. They were high speed and could respond quickly so that people could intervene with control systems and safety systems and such.
Today, the big concern is around monitoring and ultimately quantifying these emissions so that the users can address a net-zero initiative, whether it’s a 2030 or 2050 attainment goal. It’s really along those lines.
One of the things that’s important to be able to do this is you’re not just putting one or two sensors around the perimeter of a site like a plant or a big compressor station, but you think about the hundreds of thousands of individual well sites, sites with tanks, loading terminals, and those sorts of things, that are big emitters.
The scalability and the cost impact of trying to put detection and monitoring equipment out there. It’s a big challenge for the operators today.
Weldon: I certainly agree that it is. The concern about this is across the industry as a whole, as I said earlier. I do know that as we looked at this methane detection emission testing, and detection was never anything that belonged to measurement historically. In fact, it almost didn’t belong to EHS either. We called the fire safety contractor in. They took care of it, and that was the end.
The little alarm didn’t blow off. We didn’t evacuate the site or evacuate the building, we must not have a problem. What we see now, as there’s more concern is people are looking at how do we detect & how do we quantify.
What we’re seeing is that we have an ownership issue, also. Some companies think this is going to live in the EHS world, the safety world again.
Some people say if we’re going to quantify, it belongs to measurement. Some people say we need a new area of the operation to handle it. That’s a lot of the interest here in the measurement world. It’s “Hey, we’re starting to be afraid that we may have to own some of this technology, but we need to learn what it’s about for the measurement side.”
Robert: That’s a whole bunch of stuff you just unpacked there. To skate through those one at a time, everybody owns it now. The reason is that if you take a look at any of the publicly traded companies at their investor presentations, you’ll see that the compensation package of the executive leadership is all being changed to represent their methane goals and their achievements.
You know as well as I do that when you start impacting how the executive leadership is compensated, it’s going to touch everybody.
Weldon: You get their attention in a hurry.
Robert: Everybody’s going to end up owning some of that. We’re seeing a lot of these teams, whether they’re upstream or midstream. The companies have these task groups if you will. We’re seeing people out of IT because there’s networks involved in this. We’re seeing a climatologist. We’re seeing environmental health and safety, so the safety component of that.
We’re seeing measurement because there might be some excitement or light in the near future around capturing these emissions, quantifying them, and taking those volumes and pushing them back through loss, and unaccounted for statements for reconciliation. There is some measurement potential in there.
Other thing that comes in is we’re taking a look at these, one of the largest emitters of the tanks or the production tanks. Liquid hydrocarbons, for example, NGLs or oil. Each of them have their different flashpoints. They respond differently to pressure and temperature changes. We’re seeing these liquid volumes be impacted by the emission off gassing as well.
There’s a lot of technology that’s being put out there right now through vapor recovery towers, vapor recovery units. People are trying to draw this down, measure it, recompress it, put it in the sales line, or to re-inject it, move it to gas lift, but that’s all a function of automation and measurement today.
Weldon: Probably 10 years ago, maybe 15 years ago, I remember standing on a production site with that $75-80,000 FLIR camera with the cryogenic unit in it and going, “Wow. We got a problem over at this tank battery. Let’s fix it.”
But, nobody back then we ever gave a thought to trying to quantify based upon that information. They also never gave any thoughts to being able to do that on a permanently installed system at a small individual production site because of the cost, the technology, even the maintenance of that kind of equipment.
Robert: We’re seeing a whole bunch of new technology come into the marketplace. Some of it’s being spun up in from nowhere. Out of people’s garages because they’re smart guys. Then a bunch of it is being adopted from other industries coming in. There are a lot of players in there.
With regard to the FLIR stuff, the visualizations that they have is amazing, but you’re right about the cost scalability for continuous monitoring. It’s just not there. There’s also a whole lot of debate. You’ve probably seen some of the images from GHGSat and Kairos, these aerial photos. They provide beautiful imagery, but they’re not always there. The weather has to be right, and the sky needs to be clear, and those things.
Those aerial technologies that provide fantastic imagery, but they’re not continuous like you were saying. What we’re seeing, and there’s a lot of third-party studies that provide the evidence, is that a lot of the super emitters, the real big emissions, they’re episodic in nature.
They have some relation to what’s happening with the process control, or what’s happening way upstream when a well’s being choked.
Weldon: Upsets. New equipment being brought on, upsets in the existing equipment. That’s something the industry is known for years, but it’s been part of the way we did business. Now, we’re faced with not only do we need to understand that better, but we also need to eliminate or at least quantify it and report it. That’s a new world for a lot of folks.
As you were mentioning earlier, there is a loss and an unaccountable component to this to where, from a measurement standpoint, we would say we have better measurement, the more of our losses that we can quantify and report, but that’s really not the driver behind what we have here today, is it?
Robert: No. It’s not. I apologize. I didn’t answer that quantification question really well earlier, but there are a number of technologies that are addressing that in a couple of different ways. The verdict’s still out on how accurate quantification is. How accurate does it need to be?
Then there’s a lot of things that come into play, like Mother Nature. What happens when the winds blow? How far is the sensor from an emission event? Those are challenges that are in the space today.
Weldon: It’s about the qualification and how accurate does it have to be? That’s something that scares guys like me. I’m a measurement guy. Been a measurement guy for a long time. Tinkered with compressors for a while, but I’m still a measurement guy. When I want to measure something, I want to measure it out there till you can’t see decimal places on the horizon anymore.
That’s part of the concern that I hear talking with other measurement folks. They’re afraid we may end up in the measurement department, owning the actual hardware in the field, and the reporting of the data being turned over for environmental and emission reporting.
Yet, we’re saying, “This is really an estimate. There’s smoke and mirrors involved. Where do these numbers come from?” That scares us a little bit. We don’t understand how accurate or how “good enough” this is going to have to be. That’s not our nature.
Robert: When you think about technologies and science, you do think about accuracies in minimizing the opportunity for error in decision. Where we’re at today, it’s a big proving ground. Along with another whole group of technology innovators, we’ve had product at the METEC lab in Fort Collins, Colorado, a component of CSU.
We’ve had product in doing double-blind continuous testing at Texas Tech University and also part of a PTAC program in Alberta. Those are outdoor double-blind tests where, for us, anyway, we see what’s going on. We get the images, and we take those and we provide a report back to the laboratory. Then they compare that data and feed it back to us.
All we get to see are the results. We’re using a lot of that data with different wind conditions and solar illumination because our camera, in particular, is a non-thermal infrared. Anyway, we’re using those datasets to develop our quantification techniques.
Weldon: We slipped in a little bit of talking about the specific technology you’re all looking at Kuva with and some of the research and testing you’re doing there. Tell us a little more specifically about what that technology is. Non-thermal infrared, those are geeky words there. Let’s flesh them out a little bit.
Robert: [laughs] Not to go too geeky, I’ll just little geek. We’re using a technology that’s referred to as SWIR, which is shortwave infrared, whereas the FLIR that you mentioned, it’s a long wave. They also have a mid-range. Anyway, each one of those picks up different parts of the spectrum.
Ours, in particular, we opted for a nonthermal wavelength for our determination so that we could get the cost down because we do believe we’re approaching a massive point scalable solution, where operators will be able to put one of these at every site just like they do guided wave radar transmitters, almost.
Robert: That’s what we’re going after. To do that, we had to spool up this technology on our own. It’s not somebody else’s technology that we’re repackaging or anything. Where it differs is that we’re measuring the absorption of methane in C1 through C6.
We’re measuring the absorption of infrared in the reflective background as opposed to measuring the temperature differentiation of the components that are in the air. It’s far less susceptible to wet vapors, steam, vehicle exhaust, some gases associated with wildlife that might be on the well site from time to time. Anyway, a number of different things like that.
From the pipeline perspective, in particular, one thing that’s really unique is that if you think about gas that comes from a pipeline underground, whether it’s from a flange or a rupture, as it approaches the surface, it’s going to assume the temperature of the medium that it’s flowing through.
Thermal infrared, a lot of times, can’t pick that up because its temperature stabilized. We’re looking for that absorption rate so we can pick that up. The company was founded on some experimental work with the government where they were looking at leaks coming from the pavement in the cities.
Weldon: Wow. That’s some interesting stuff there, Robert. I’m glad you kept it just at the little geeky stage. Otherwise, it might have scared me there. That’s a lot of advancement in not a whole lot of years. The drive, as we talked about earlier, is so widespread in the industry right now.
The question is, what’s driving all that? Talk to us a little bit about the drivers behind this, and why it’s such a big concern these days? Where is the money going to come from to do it?
Robert: I can answer most of it with the exception of where the money’s going to come from. [laughs]
Anyway, a lot of people that we deal with because my background is mostly with operations working with people on the field and I remember a year ago having discussions, and people thinking, “Well, that’s not going to apply to me because I only have a couple of hundred wells. This is going to be stuff that goes after the big guys.”
What we’ve seen is for Wall Street or financial organizations like BlackRock and Engine No. 1, the strength that they’ve been able to present themselves in the marketplace in impacting change around climate is crazy. What it’s really coming down to you is you’re going to have to participate in this if you want to be able to sell your product at today’s market rates and then not being discounted.
We’re seeing this being driven by the end-users. The end-users or the final consumers of the gas, they could be a chemical plant, a petrochem. They could be a gas-fired power plant. It could be a country. Let’s say, it’s a country in Europe. They’re going to negotiate with somebody in Texas to build an LNG plant. They’re going to buy the gas, LNG, but they want it certified. They want to know that there’s net-zero that is responsibly sourced. They’re insisting on that.
Then the LNG plant is going to the transmission company saying, “Hey, you’re building these new 42 inch pipes that you’re going to be dropping gas in here. My customers are insisting that this gas is responsibly sourced.”
The transmission companies go into the midstream company and the midstream companies go on to the operators, whether they’re big or small, and they’re saying, “If you want to put gas at market price in my pipes, here’s what you got to do.”
Weldon: Wow. That is a huge change for the way we’ve bought and sold and marketed gas in the past. It’s one of those things that I have trouble wrapping my mind around. I’ve heard people discuss this a little bit before, but never put as well as you just explained it there.
Robert: I appreciate that. I’ve heard it a few times from a number of people, and it’s really getting to be a big thing and to see how operators are addressing these. Like I said, there’s a lot of technologies coming to market.
There’s a lot of talk about doing periodic — you might be familiar with Quad Oa, where depending on your volumes, once a quarter or twice a year, depending on what the estimated emissions might be, you have to go out with a handheld camera referred to as OGI, optical gas imaging. They’re handheld and they’re manual. Then, the place; the site is surveyed, and that has to be done on a periodic basis. You could do that and get by with as little as you have to do.
Or, you could do some higher interval or even continuous monitoring. Then, instead of the burden of proof being such that, you’re doing as little as you can to get by, you can prove what your emissions either are or are not depending on which side of the table you’re going to play that, but we’re seeing huge investments.
Weldon: The financing for this, the drive for it, the money from this is not coming from government regulation in these cases. It’s literally coming from the investors and the customers of the product, and that’s quite a change if I understand you correctly.
Robert: That’s definitely what kicked it off. I hate to say that EPA was riding on the coattails of the investment community, but from my perspective, EPA is riding on the coattails of the investment community. But, I got to say it’s not all bad.
In the last year or so that I’ve been on well sites and midstream sites, deploying these technologies and watching the emissions that go down, it’s huge, and the cost to do it is so low. At first, when I got exposure to what was happening, it seemed like it was insurmountable, and it’s really not. It’s something that we can tackle.
Weldon: That makes a lot of sense, Robert. I’ve worked in the midstream industry quite a bit. I’ve just been part of doing business. Upstream on the production side, losses weren’t even on the radar of what you thought about. If it didn’t create an oily spot on the ground that you had to truck off, it was really okay.
As you start looking at some of the biggest emitters, you see items there where fixing the problem actually hits the bottom line positively. When you start talking about the larger scale emissions, that’s enough to move those unaccountable meters and move the proper building of meters. If the technology doing it, it’s reasonably priced.
Robert: On the well site and some midstream, we’ve really seen a lot of operational impacts. There’s a lot of the fugitive component. Fugitive emissions are considered the scope 1, I believe that’s how they’re referred to. So, that’s low bleed, air set regulators, pneumatic level controllers, and that sort of thing. There’s also people switching from gas-powered instruments to compressed air instruments, and they’re putting generators and compressors on-site. We’re seeing a bit of that.
On the operational perspective, something that we ran across that was really interesting was we were watching the tanks. We’re not seeing gas coming out of the top of the tanks like you would expect. We see it coming across the bottom like almost in the berm area, and the gas is flowing across, and it’s “What the heck? Where’s that coming from?” We pan the camera over, and the water tanks are just flowing like crazy. Nobody’s really expecting that.
When you think about operationally, what happens with produce water when it comes off a separator? If you want to get more gas out of it, you can heat it, you can put a pressure drop across it, or you can let it sit there longer. Just by changing the retention time in the separator, they’re able to cut back on a huge amount of emissions that nobody even knew that was taking place.
Weldon: Makes perfect sense. Talk to me a little bit, Robert, about what we see down the road. I’m thinking in the pretty near future, as far as you’re taking the technology you have now, which you are already great at detecting. You’re beginning to work on quantifying, you’ve already told us you have projects and works right now that are doing double line testing and reporting back how well you’re doing on that, what do we expect to see on the measurement side down the road?
How do you see this information being provided? Does it become a live feed of data? Is it a number from a black box that shows up at the end of the month? How do you see that information being provided to the measurement folks?
Robert: That’s a pretty big question. [laughs] There’s a number of things going on there. There’s a couple of agencies. There’s actually more than a couple. The only two that come to mind right now are Project Canary and MiQ. They both come about this in a different way.
One of them takes into effect how long has the well been in place, what was the cement job, the specifications on that? They’re actually looking at the integrity of the piping, the casing coming out of the ground. They’re taking a lot of stuff into consideration, not just what’s really visible to the eye. So, it gets really deep.
There’s some other considerations or another scope of measurement that’s using satellite or aerial devices, which just doesn’t have quite the comprehensive measurement nature that the other one does, I don’t believe.
I think we’re going to end up with between the different technologies, and my level of awareness with them is we’re going to end up with some approximations or estimations. There’s going to be some limit. It might be 20 to 30 or 30 to 40 percent, something like that. That’s what it’s going to come down to you, and then there is going to be a data feed.
S&P already has a method of bringing these measurements in and equating them similar to a currency almost. It’s basically going to become a trading platform for offsets. Before we got started, we chatted just a little bit about the offset. Anyway, I think we’re going to see that happen.
Weldon: From the measurements perspective, what you’re talking about here is offsets, handling things on the ledgers in the back end to satisfy your company’s both regulatory requirements, operating requirements for business sense, from the marketing rules, the requirements for your product.
From the measurement folks, if you’re going to talk about quantifying emissions, even if they’re being estimated, as long as the estimates have some science behind them, us measurement folks are going to want access to that information to start to try to use it in their loss and unaccountable and balancing numbers, because that becomes a valuable data just from that standpoint.
Robert: For sure. It’ll be interesting to see what that looks like, what the science is that’s backing those numbers. I’m sure it’ll be good. These guys from METEC, PTAC, Texas Tech, and a number of other organizations — the data that they put out so far has been pretty phenomenal.
Weldon: We may see a day where we have a feed coming from an individual pad site that says, “Hey, this represents your estimated emissions or an hour by hour, or even a minute by minute possibly, basis.”
Robert: I could see whether it’s near real-time or daily accumulation but something like that, and it’s going to end up being represented as a percentage of emissions as compared to a barrel of oil equivalent that was produced in a day.
Weldon: The information like that just becomes super powerful from an operation standpoint. When you have an operation out there, or you’re trying to reduce from a financial standpoint, before we ever talked about emissions, just from loss of revenue. You have companies that have fairly well-tuned and operated systems, where they’re operating pretty tight, and they get in that mode of, “We need to begin to identify and correct air excursions from normal operations,” this becomes very valuable information from that standpoint.
Robert: It does. It’s been real interesting to see some of the correlations and interactions in the mechanical and physical parts of the process that no one really expected. We’ve seen losses with perforation and flow lines going from tank facilities to VRU use that no one knew that there were perforations in it from corrosion from the heavy liquids sitting there for a while.
We’ve seen bottlenecking in facilities due to sand build-up that no one really thought was going on or even thought to look at. We started seeing interactions between process controls of what’s going on the well site in the emission’s level. You start looking at all the data points that you have and using some smart folks with some neat analytics.
They’re scrubbing it. They’re finding what those mechanical connections are, and they’re able to come up with a resolution. They’re all operational in nature, and we had no idea that we’re going to be able to pick up this thing.
Weldon: Wow. That’s some really neat stuff. Robert, you shared a lot of stuff here. I know some of our listeners are going to be in the same place right now that I was. probably a couple of months ago, when I started hearing more discussions about trying to quantify methane emissions from the site. I was really, “How are they going to do that stuff?”
As I talked to some people, and the discussions I had with you prior to our recording here, as well as doing some reading after that, it started making me realize, “Hey, we need to have our minds blown a little bit.”
Because part of what the industry, honestly, is grumbling about a little bit about is “Why are we worried about some of this stuff?” It’s things we should have been doing if we were keeping our houses in order to begin with.
Back to your comment, there’s a lot of good coming from the regulations, from the socio-economical push that we have, also. There’s good things coming from this. Our industry could have been doing better all along. This is just a driver, but it’s going to blow a lot of measurement folks’ minds to say, “Hey, not only is that possible, we’re going to start getting that information. We’re going to be involved in the reporting of that information.”
It’s a toolset that’s overdue. It’s going to take some time to wrap our minds around it. Again, thank you for being here today. Anything else you want to say in parting?
Robert: At Kuva, the way we’re addressing this is we developed a camera. The company’s been around for about six years. Product’s been mature for 18 months. We’ve been doing commercial deployments. We do have cameras in the Bakken, the SCOOP, the STACK, and Anadarko Basin, Permian Basin, Eagle Ford Shale, and quite a few in Alberta as well.
What’s unique about the solution and the reason we’re so excited about it is that we’re actually taking a picture using a non-thermal technology. It doesn’t come with some of the downsides that traditional thermal does — cost being one of them.
Anyway, we’re providing an image. Depending on what the wind’s doing, most of the pictures, when you look at it, you can see, “Hey, this Enardo valve on this particular tank is flowing gas, and it shouldn’t be. What are the conditions causing that?” It provides a picture every minute of what’s going on. We’re working towards quantification on that, but right now, the images are so actionable that we’re having such great discussions with our customers about how this technology is impacting so many different efforts.
Weldon: I know when I first saw the images, I assumed it was thermal. Then you got to explaining the process and the technologies more, I was really blown away by it.
We’re going to put your LinkedIn information up on the website and we’re going to put Kuva’s information up on the website. People can definitely get ahold of you if they want to know more.
Weldon: Thanks again for being on the 4th episode of the Oil and Gas Measurement podcast.
Robert: Thank you, Weldon, and thanks for having me.
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Transcription by CastingWords