September 6, 2004

EUB reports reduced sulfur emissions from flaring, recovery plants

From 2000 to 2003, sulfur emissions decreased from both grandfathered acid gas flaring plants and grandfathered sulfur recovery plants in Alberta; these were down 30% and 25%, respectively. Overall, emissions from grandfathered plants have fallen by approximately 25% during this period due to improved performance and decreased sulfur throughput, says a new Alberta Energy and Utilities Board (EUB) report, Sulfur Recovery and Sulfur Emissions at Alberta Sour Gas Plants (Statistical Series (ST) 101).

Grandfathered plants are those that did not meet the sulfur recovery requirements for new plants listed in the EUB's Sulfur Recovery Guidelines for the Province of Alberta (Interim Directive 2001-3, issued in late August 2001). The guidelines established a schedule to degrandfather plants to meet the same sulfur recovery requirements as new plants, implemented a phased approach to meet stringent EUB requirements, and encouraged operators to take early action to improve performance (ELW September 10, 2001).

The grandfathered facilities include some sulfur recovery plants as well as larger acid gas flaring plants. Degrandfathered plants are those that did not meet the directive's requirements for new plants, but have since been relicensed to meet the requirements for new plants.

The new statistical report is the second annual summary of sulfur recovery results at grandfathered sour gas plants across Alberta since the implementation of ID 2001-3. The report notes that of the 30% decrease in sulfur emissions from grandfathered acid gas flaring plants, about 20% was due to declining sulfur inlet. The remaining 10% is attributed to the acid gas injection facility installed at ConocoPhillips Vulcan and the installation of sulfur recovery at Petro-Canada's Wilson Creek operation.

Similarly, adds the report, of the 25% reduction in emissions from grandfathered sulfur recovery facilities, about 20% was due to declining sulfur inlet. The remaining 5% reduction was mainly due to improved operations at BP's Windfall, Husky's Ram River and Shell's Jumping Pound facilities, along with the installation of acid gas injection at Keyspan's Brazeau operation.

In the last four years, eight plants have been degrandfathered, three plants were relicensed to meet the requirements for new plants, and four plants were shut down. Currently, there are 22 grandfathered sulfur recovery plants and 22 grandfathered acid gas flaring plants remaining.

The Sulfur Recovery and Sulfur Emissions at Alberta Sour Gas Plants report may be viewed on the EUB Web site, www.eub.gov.ab.ca.

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