AS OF FEBRUARY 2019, OIL & GAS COMPANIES must be in full compliance with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Refinery Flare Rule. First proposed in 2014, the rules went into effect in 2016, and they are designed to address public concerns about flaring.
Flares, of course, are the perpetual flames that are seen at the top of towers in refineries. They burn off the excessive hydrocarbon gases rather than send those vapors into the atmosphere, and the cloud underneath is steam that helps promote clean combustion. Of course, flares also produce emissions.
One of the big changes in the rule is that the EPA began implementing fence-line monitoring for benzene to show the public what was leaving the areas around the refineries and heading toward residential or other business areas in the vicinity. Another big development is that, under the rule, the EPA is now allowing video camera surveillance to be used as evidence that a company is complying with opacity requirements.
“Collecting data is a huge component of the new rule. Oil & Gas companies will need to compile much more data than ever before to track potential releases rather than just the result of an emissions event. Flow meters must be installed to accurately calculate emissions, and companies are going to have to be able to manage the data overload from them and other data-collecting requirements. A solid information management strategy is key to ensure compliance with the Refinery Flare Rule. Integrated data can help with continuity, which will help capture the transparency requirements under the rule.”