Combustion and venting are the two primary sources of nitrogen dioxide (NOx), sulfur dioxide (SOx), volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and particulate matter (PM). We design infrastructure and operate in a manner that protects air quality and reduces emissions. As an exploration and production company, our criteria air pollution emissions are minimal compared to midstream and downstream companies.
In 2018, emissions of NOx increased by about 6% driven by increased drilling and completions and increased diesel combustion during facility shutdowns. SOx emissions increased about 14% due to an increase in shutdowns and startups associated with power outages at one facility and increased hydrogen sulfide in fuel gas at another facility. Emissions of VOCs increased about 10% primarily due to improved measurement of produced water tank emissions, increased production and an increased number of pneumatic controllers.
Managing Our Emissions
The international Gothenburg Protocol was established in 1999 to reduce numerous pollutants including NOx emissions. Our offshore projects in the North Sea have historically required combustion of diesel and natural gas for power and flaring. In Norway, the government and industry established a NOx fund to facilitate emission reductions and provide participating companies with funding to assist with the development of NOx reduction projects. The fund led to Norway surpassing its protocol reduction commitments. ConocoPhillips contributed to those reductions with a number of projects that reduced NOx by approximately 280 tonnes per year, equivalent to the emissions from 300,000 – 400,000 diesel cars. The four projects at our offshore facilities include:
- Modification to the electric power grid at Greater Ekofisk as we developed the Eldfisk ll project. This involved laying an electric cable between the Ekofisk and Eldfisk fields and upgrading the waste heat recovery system and steam-generated power system on Eldfisk. This 2016 upgrade resulted in emission-free power production by eliminating diesel generators.
- Modification to the water injection header system in 2016, which also created more efficient power production for injection of water into the Ekofisk field.
- Installation of a flared gas re-compressor on Eldfisk in 2015, which allowed for natural gas to be sold rather than flared.
- We are currently replacing two diesel-driven cranes with electric cranes on the Ekofisk 24J platform. These cranes are powered by low NOx turbines and power from the electrical grid.
These projects also reduced CO₂ emissions by approximately 60,000 tonnes.