July 30, 2007

Gas plant sulfur emissions decline 34% since 2000

In another update, the EUB reports that total sulfur emissions from sour gas plants across Alberta have been reduced by 34% since 2000 and about 2% between 2005 and 2006. Statistical Series 101: Sulfur Recovery and Sulfur Emissions at Alberta Sour Gas Plants (ST 101) summarizes the results of sulfur recovery efforts for the 2000-2006 period.

The statistics also provide an annual progress report on industry's compliance with the EUB's Interim Directive 2001-03: Sulfur Recovery Guidelines for the Province of Alberta (ID 2001-03). The guidelines, issued in August 2001, established stringent requirements for sulfur emissions, provided a schedule for existing plants to meet the same sulfur recovery requirements as new plants, and encouraged operators to take early action to improve performance.

The 2007 report attributes improvements to improved performance and decreased sulfur throughput in grandfathered plants, i.e. those that did not meet ID 2001-03 requirements for new plants in 2001, relative to the 2000 baseline. The Board's figures show that between 2000 and 2006, sulfur emissions from grandfathered acid gas flaring plants declined by 66%, while emissions from grandfathered sulfur recovery plants declined by 27%.

For non-grandfathered plants, emissions were reduced by approximately 28% from 2000 to 2006. Sulfur inlet at these plants went down approximately 21% during that time period.

Overall, the Board reports that emissions from grandfathered plants have fallen by approximately 35% from 2000 through 2006. This represents a decrease of approximately 69 tonnes of sulfur emissions (138 tonnes of sulfur dioxide emissions) per day in Alberta.

A slight (2%) increase in emissions from grandfathered plants from 2005 to 2006 was primarily due to a new gas discovery southwest of Rocky Mountain House, which resulted in increased inlets and emissions at one facility. It is expected that emissions from grandfathered plants will decline once again in 2007 due to lower sulfur inlets and improvements in plant performance across the province, says the report.

Grandfathered plants include some sulfur recovery facilities and larger acid gas flaring operations (i.e. with sulfur inlet greater than one tonne per day). Nongrandfathered plants are those with an approved sulfur inlet greater than one tonne per day meeting the requirements for new plants, as listed in ID 2001-03. This includes both sulfur recovery plants and acid gas injection plants.

The report notes that since 2000, 14 plants have made upgrades to meet the new requirements, ten plants have been relicensed, and five plants have ceased operating.

Both the EUB Upstream Petroleum Industry Flaring and Venting Report for 2006 (publication ST60B-2007) and ST 101, Sulfur Recovery and Sulfur Emissions at Alberta Sour Gas Plants may be viewed on the EUB Web site, www.eub.ca.

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