Jump to main content.


Getting Results - April 1995

What's Inside

Natural Gas STAR is a voluntary government/industry partnership designed to protect the environment through cost-effective measures, without regulation. The program encourages natural gas companies to adopt technologies and practices that profitably reduce emissions of methane-the primary component of natural gas.

To date, the Natural Gas STAR Program represents
* 55% of Transmission Company Pipeline Mileage
* 25% of Distribution Company Pipeline Mileage
* 20% of U.S. Natural Gas Production

EPA Launches Natural Gas STAR Producers Program

On March 27, 1995, EPA along with the natural gas industry launched a new Natural Gas STAR Program for producers. The new voluntary program promotes profitable methods for reducing methane emissions in the production sector of the industry. A program launching ceremony was held at the EPA/Society of Petroleum Engineers Exploration & Production Environmental Conference in Houston, Texas. During the ceremony, Paul Stolpman, Director of the Office of Atmospheric Programs, honored the 7 Charter Partners by presenting them with a certificate of participation. The Charter Partners are Amoco Corporation, Chevron USA Production Company, FINA Oil & Chemical Company, Marathon Oil Company, Mobil Oil Corporation Exploration and Producing Division, SCANA Petroleum Resources, Inc., and Shell Exploration and Production Company. Combined, these companies represent over 20% of all natural gas produced in the United States.

"We are pleased to welcome the Charter Partners into the Natural Gas STAR Producers Program," said EPA Administrator Carol M. Browner in a press announcement on the launch. "Together, EPA and these companies will demonstrate that we can protect the environment while improving a company's bottom-line profits and ensuring that more of our nation's valuable gas resources reaches consumers rather than leaking into the atmosphere."

The Natural Gas STAR Producer Program focuses on two major opportunities for methane recovery: installing flash tank separators on glycol dehydrators, and replacing high-bleed pneumatics with no or low-bleed devices. These best management practices were determined to be cost-effective solutions for reducing emissions through a cooperative process between EPA and industry.

EPA salutes the Charter Partners for their leadership in reducing methane emissions. We look forward to working with the Charter Partners and other companies to achieve the goal of the Natural Gas STAR Producers Program: profitable methane recovery. If you have any questions on the Producers Program please call Roger Fernandez, Natural Gas STAR Producers Program Manager at (202) 343-9386.*

Top of page

Natural Gas STAR News

1994 Transmission/Distribution Annual Reports: As we begin the third year of the Natural Gas STAR Program, EPA commends each of the 39 Transmission and Distribution (T&D) Partners for their progress in implementing the program. 1994 Annual Reports have recently arrived and the results are expected to generate substantial methane emissions reductions, building upon savings of 1.3 billion cubic feet (BCF) achieved in 1993. Detailed results from 1994 will be published this summer.

NARUC Endorsement: The National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) signed on as an endorser of the Natural Gas STAR Program. For more information see page 4.

Regulatory Barriers Update: EPA's Region 9 has decided to exempt pneumatic controllers used in natural gas distribution systems from the final California Federal Implementation Plan (FIP), signed on February 15, 1995. This decision was a direct result of STAR participation by key distribution companies in the state. The FIP states the following: "Based on the evidence provided and the replacement schedule established under the Natural Gas STAR Program, EPA has revised the FIP rule to exempt gas distribution components handling post-processed natural gas." Thanks to Southern California Gas Company and Pacific Gas and Electric Company for working with EPA to ensure that the environmental benefits of voluntary programs like Natural Gas STAR are reflected in the FIP.

Natural Gas STAR Transmission and Distribution Recognition: EPA published an advertisement in the February 13, 1995 edition of the Oil and Gas Journal congratulating STAR partners for their success in accomplishing cost-effective environmental protection-without regulation. The ad, entitled "Natural Gas STAR: A Natural Solution to Prevent Pollution," is reprinted on page 11. EPA and the American Gas Association (A.G.A.) plan to publish a similar ad this Spring in the American Gas Magazine.

1st Annual Transmission and Distribution Implementation Workshop: Last November, EPA and the American Gas Association spon-sored the 1st Annual Implementation Workshop for Transmission and Distribution Partners. Over 55 participants from 34 companies attended the workshop. Special thanks to Lori Traweek from A.G.A. for her outstanding work on this successful event. For more information on the Workshop, see page 10.

The Russians Have Arrived! EPA and Natural Gas STAR partners hosted five representatives from the Russian natural gas concern, RAO Gazprom, in April 1995. Over a ten-day period, Gazprom experts visited STAR partners Amoco, Chevron, Natural Gas Pipeline Company of America, Southern California Gas Company, Tenneco Gas, and Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Corporation to study cost-effective options used by American companies to improve system efficiency. Gazprom, the world's largest natural gas company- responsible for 90% of Russia's natural gas production and virtually all its transmission-loses an estimated 2- 5% of all natural gas produced. (The Russian natural gas system loses an estimated 3-7% of production, compared to 1% in the United States.) The visit provided a valuable forum for Gazprom to assess the applicability of STAR practices to the Russian natural gas sector and to investigate the potential for other practices.*

Top of page

Report from the American Gas Association

Lori Traweek, Director,
Engineering Services, A.G.A.

A.G.A. continues to promote EPA's Natural Gas STAR Program by sponsoring events for both participants and interested parties to discuss progress to date and share lessons learned. In November, A.G.A. co-hosted the 1st Annual Natural Gas STAR Workshop for Transmission and Distribution Partners with EPA. Participants exchanged valuable information on methane emissions reductions opportunities and expressed overwhelming support for continuation of this annual event. As a result of the positive feedback, look for A.G.A. to co-host another workshop with EPA this Fall.

In other news, A.G.A. hosted a Distribution Meeting for 11 Natural Gas STAR Partners on March 10, 1994 at A.G.A. Headquarters. During the meeting, Partners reviewed program implementation and submission of the 1994 Annual Reports. EPA STAR Transmission and Distribution Program Manager Andrea Osborne joined the group to discuss upcoming EPA guidance on emissions measurement, a June American Gas Magazine advertisement commending STAR partners, and an awards program tentatively scheduled for the American Gas Conference in Atlanta in early October, to recognize the achievements of all the STAR partners.

On May 8, Brooklyn Union's William Ireland and Consolidated Edison Company of New York's Richard Brand will present an overview of their partnering success with EPA at A.G.A.'s 1995 Operations Conference and Exhibition. Papers to watch for include: "Brooklyn Union's Partnering Success with EPA Results in a 'Star Studded' program," and "Consolidated Edison's Successful Experiences with EPA's STAR Program." EPA's Osborne will join the group for a panel discussion and question- and-answer session.

Finally, in the March 3 edition of A.G.A.'s President's Friday Letter, A.G.A. Chairman and Brooklyn Union president and CEO Bob Catell encouraged A.G.A. member companies to join Brooklyn Union and the other Natural Gas STAR partners in adopt-ing voluntary practices that reduce methane emissions and prevent global warming. A copy of the president's letter is reprinted below.*

Top of page

The President's Friday Letter

March 3, 1995

CATELL ENCOURAGES PARTICIPATION IN EPA
NATURAL GAS STAR PROGRAM

Your Chairman Bob Catell, president and CEO of Brooklyn Union, made a brief presentation at last week's A.G.A. Executive Committee meeting in Houston to promote EPA's Natural Gas STAR Program.

He encouraged all A.G.A. member companies to join Brooklyn Union and the 36 other Natural Gas STAR participants, who have agreed voluntarily to adopt practices that will reduce methane emissions and prevent global warming.

Bob showed the committee an EPA ad from the Feb. 13 Oil and Gas Journal that points out that through participation in the program, natural gas companies have voluntarily prevented methane emissions of more than 1.3 billion cubic feet. A copy of the ad is attached.

A.G.A. has been working with EPA for several years on the EPA STAR Program. As you may recall, I participated with EPA Administrator Carol Browner in her first news conference announcing the program. We will continue to work with EPA on voluntary measures to reduce methane emissions and prevent global warming both here in the U.S. and abroad.

A.G.A. contacts:
Lori Traweek (703) 841-8453
Byron Dillard (703) 841-8651

Top of page

NARUC Endorses EPA's Natural Gas STAR Program

"WHEREAS the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Natural Gas STAR Program is a voluntary government/ industry partnership designed to accomplish environmental protection through cost-effective measures which reduce methane gas emissions into the atmosphere, ...therefore be it

RESOLVED that the Gas Committee of the NARUC meeting at its Winter Meeting in Washington, DC on March 1, 1995 does hereby endorse the Natural Gas STAR Program on the basis of its positive effect on the environment and also on the basis of the improvement in safety resulting therefrom . . .

On March 2, 1995, the Executive Committee of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) unanimously endorsed the Natural Gas STAR Program. This endorsement recognizes a shared commitment to the economic, environmental, and safety benefits associated with reducing leaks and losses from natural gas systems. EPA will work with NARUC and its public utility commission (PUC) members to inform local distribution companies about the Natural Gas STAR Program and the benefits of participating. In addition, EPA will work with PUCs to provide information on incentives used in some states that encourage utilities' implementation of STAR "best management practices." Incentives include actions such as those already adopted by the New York Public Service Commission:

For more information, please contact Mary Schoen, EPA's Natural Gas STAR PUC Coordinator at (202) 233-9058.*

Top of page

The Natural Gas STAR Program

The Natural Gas STAR Program is part of the Climate Change Action Plan, announced by President Clinton in October 1993 to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2000. The Natural Gas STAR Program consists of two initiatives, one focused on the Transmission and Distribution sectors, and the other concentrating on the production and processing sectors. The STAR Program for Transmission and Distribution companies was established in 1993, and the new STAR Program for Producers was launched in March 1995. When fully implemented in the year 2000, Natural Gas STAR partners are projected to recover more than 35 billion cubic feet (bcf) of natural gas per year, worth over $70 million. This is enough gas to heat 500,000 homes annually. These reductions are also the greenhouse gas equivalent of removing 3 million cars from the nations roads.

Companies that join the STAR Program sign a Memorandum of Understanding with EPA, agreeing to implement cost-effective "Best Management Practices" (BMP's) that reduce leaks and losses of natural gas. Partners are also encouraged to consider implementation of "additional" BMP's that may be profitable for their company. EPA provides support for Partners by assisting with program implementation through workshops and newsletters, removing unjustified regulatory barriers, providing Partners with public recognition, and recognizing Partners for prior practices consistent with the program.

NATURAL GAS STAR BEST MANAGEMENT PRACTICES

Distribution & Transmission

BMP I: Directed inspection and maintenance (I&M) at surface facilities

BMP II: Identify and rehabilitate leaking distribution pipe

BMP III: Directed I&M at compressor stations

BMP IV: Greater use of turbines in place of reciprocating engines

BMP V: Identify and replace high-bleed pneumatic devices

BMP VI: Other practices

Production

BMP I: Identify and replace high-bleed pneumatic devices

BMP II: Install flash tank separators on dehydrators

BMP III: Other practices

What's in the Works

Top of page

Update on Emission Reduction Developments at Compressors

Note from EPA: As part of its commit-ment to the STAR Program, EPA provides information to STAR partners on developing technologies and practices that may lead to new opportunities to reduce methane emissions. Since Partners have the flexibility to adopt additional "best management practices," EPA believes this information may lead to profitable opportunities for some companies. Previously, EPA developed the following fact sheets for the Transmission and Distribution sectors: Smart Regulators, Composite Wrap for Pipeline Repair, and Metallic Coated Seals. The information included below is the fourth new development for use by the Transmission and Distribution sectors, and was prepared for EPA by Michael J. Gibbs, Vice President, ICF Incorporated and Yusuf A. Shikari, Manager, Gas Transport Research, Institute of Gas Technology. EPA expects to perform more complete analysis of these options when additional technical and economic information is available. These results will also be provided to Natural Gas STAR partners.

A better understanding of the leaks from compressor engines and the opportunities for reducing these emissions is being examined. This article identifies the compressor leak points and the opportunities to reduce these emissions that have been explored to date.

Reciprocating compressors work using a simple piston-cylinder arrangement. An engine (i.e., prime mover) moves a piston rod back and forth within a cylinder. During the suction stroke, the cylinder volume is increased and gas enters the cylinder through the suction valve. During the compression stroke, the suction valve closes and the gas volume is reduced by the action of the piston moving in the cylinder. When the gas is at the desired pressure, it is expelled through the discharge valve. While there are a variety of cylinder configurations, Figure 1 shows a double-acting configuration, which has two compression chambers, one operating on each side of the piston. Compression and suction occur simul-taneously on opposite sides of the piston during a single stroke.

Compressor Leak Points

Experience shows that there are two main fugitive leak sources on the compressor itself: 1) the suction and discharge valves; and 2) the rod packing (see Points A and B in Figure 1, respectively). Leaks in the flange connections of the suction and discharge valves are caused by high pressure, heat, and vibration. These leaks can generally be detected using vapor-analyzing instruments or through direct examination by maintenance personnel. These leaks can often be reduced by tightening the connection, or if necessary by replacing the flange gasket.

Rod packing is generally a series of rings held in place in the stuffing box by a packing gland or disk. The piston rod moves back and forth through the center hole of the rings. The rings can be of various configurations and materials, including lubricated or non-lubricated metals, semi-metallic composites, and rubberized plastics. Leaks from rod packing can be difficult to address because the rod packing has a particularly difficult job to perform. On the one hand, rod packing must contain the gas which is under pressure in the cylinder. To accomplish this job, it must form a secure seal around the piston rod. Simultaneously, it must allow the piston rod to move freely, without binding. While a variety of rod packing materials and techniques have been developed for specific uses, all techniques must wrestle with the conflicting need to maintain a secure seal while allowing the piston rod to move easily.

Emission Reduction Opportunities

Effective routine maintenance and inspection provides the best opportunity for keeping compressor emissions low. The suction and discharge valves warrant special attention by operating personnel, as does proper rod packing maintenance and replacement at regular intervals. In cases where lubricated rod packing is used (as shown in Figure 1), proper lubrication is essential, including when the compressor is idle and pressurized. Emerging industry trends that will help reduce rod packing emissions in a cost-effective manner include: use of nonlubricated metallic rod packing materials; use of ceramic or tungsten carbide piston rod coatings; use of compressor diagnostic software to pinpoint the location of gas leakage; and implementation of automatic shutdowns in case of an unacceptable level of leakage.*

Top of page

Natural Gas STAR Partner Profile: Tenneco Gas

Note from EPA: This article is part of an ongoing series of Partner Profiles designed to spotlight Partner implementation success. Previous articles highlighted the implementation experiences of Natural Gas Pipeline Company of America, MidCon Texas Pipeline Corporation, and Southern California Gas Company. The Tenneco Gas article was submitted by Marcello Minotti, Senior Compressor Engineer for Tenneco Gas. EPA applauds Tenneco's leadership in the STAR Program!

Tenneco Gas joined Natural Gas STAR to help the environment, work cooperatively with EPA, improve safety, and enhance self-discovery of our transmission system. In addition, the program makes economic sense. Following is an outline of some of the past and future activities related to Tenneco's STAR participation:

Past Highlights:

Pipeline Pumpdowns: Pipeline pumpdown before blowdown when rehabilitating pipe (using, for example, portable compressors) reduces both the amplitude and duration of blowdown noise and reduces methane emissions to the atmosphere by 60-90%. The economic picture is also positive: Tenneco saved an estimated 1 billion cubic feet (bcf ) from this practice in 1994.

Pneumatic Controller Retrofits: Tenneco's Mizer retrofit program for high-bleed pneumatic controllers has enhanced safety, sometimes improved performance and has resulted in methane emissions reductions of 60- 95% per retrofit. Economically, the retrofits pay for themselves in 6 months to 3 years.

Fuel Blowdown System: By not leaving blowdown vents open during reciprocating unit nonoperation (previously a standard Tenneco practice), unit valve leakage is avoided. The associated 70-90% reduction in venting has led to methane emissions savings of over 3 bcf per year. Tenneco has also reiterated the importance of opening fuel blowdown valves to direct gas from unit-valve-leaks to the fuel systems of running engines. When adopted as a standard practice by field personnel, this practice leads to another 10-15% reduction in methane emissions.

Directed Inspection & Maintenance (I/M) at Compressor Stations: Tenneco's pilot program showed the largest leaks to be at compressor cylinders, fuel valves and connections, suction and discharge pipe, and at the control panel. Although leak tendencies have been identified, good ppm-to-volume correlations are required; EPA is working on this. Tenneco will consider expansion of its I/M program as this information becomes available.

Future Goals:

Top of page

New Transmission and Distribution Partners

Bay State Gas
Westborough, Massachusetts,
105 miles of transmission pipeline,
5,000 main/5,000 service

Long Island Lighting
Hicksville, New York
6,300 miles of distribution pipeline

Northern Utilities
a Bay State subsidiary operating in Maine and
New Hampshire

Superior Water, Light and Power Company
Superior Wisconsin,
200 miles of distribution pipeline

Great Lakes Gas Transmission Company
Detroit, Michigan,
2,000 miles of transmission pipeline

Orange and Rockland
Pearl River, New York,
1,600 miles of distribution pipeline

Northwest Natural Gas
Portland, Oregon,
10,000 miles of distribution pipeline

Granite State Gas Transmission, Inc.
a Bay State subsidiary

Central Hudson
Poughkeepsie, New York, 900 miles of distribution pipeline, 150 miles of transmission pipeline

Natural Gas STAR Partners:
46 Partners as of April 1995

Amoco Corporation
ANR Pipeline Company
Atlanta Gas Light Company
Baltimore Gas & Electric Company
Bay State Gas Company
Brooklyn Union Gas
Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corporation
Chevron USA Production Company
Citizens Gas & Coke Utility
Columbia Gas Distribution Companies
[Columbia Gas of KY, OH, MD, PA Commonwealth Gas Services, Inc.]
Consolidated Edison Company of New York, Inc.
ENRON Corp.
Equitable Resources, Inc.
FINA Oil & Chemical Company
Granite State Gas Transmission, Inc.
Great Lakes Gas Transmission Company
Long Island Lighting Company
Louisville Gas and Electric Company
Marathon Oil Company
MidCon Texas Pipeline Corporation
Mobil Oil Corporation Exploration & Producing Division
Natural Gas Pipeline Company of America
New York State Electric & Gas Corporation
Niagara Mohawk Power Corporation
Northern Indiana Public Service Company
Northern Utilities
Northwest Natural Gas Company
Orange and Rockland Utilities, Inc.
Pacific Gas and Electric Company
Public Service Company of North Carolina, Inc.
Rochester Gas & Electric Corp.
SCANA Petroleum Resources, Inc.
Shell Exploration & Production Company
Southern California Gas Company
Southern Natural Gas Company
Superior Water, Light and Power Company
Tenneco Gas
Texas Gas Transmission Corporation
Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Corporation
UGI Utilities, Inc.
Washington Gas
Wisconsin Public Service
Corporation

Top of page

Charter Producer Partners

FINA Oil and Chemical Company,
Dallas, Texas

Amoco Corporation,
Houston, Texas

Chevron USA
Production Company,
Houston, Texas

MARATHON Oil Company,
Houston, Texas

SCANA Petroleum Resources, Inc.,
Houston, Texas

Shell Exploration and
Production Company,
Houston, Texas

Mobil Oil Corporation Exploration
and Producing Division,
Dallas, Texas

Top of page

EPA and the American Gas Association Host 1st Annual STAR T&D Implementation Workshop

On November 2, 1994, EPA and A.G.A. co-hosted the 1st Annual Natural Gas STAR Implementation Workshop for Transmission and Distribution (T&D) Partners near A.G.A. headquarters in Virginia. The 55 participants from 34 companies used the workshop as a forum for exchanging experiences and lessons learned regarding Natural Gas STAR implementation. Results from workshop evaluations showed that the workshop was highly successful in meeting its objectives.

The workshop agenda included an overview of the implementation successes of Transmission and Distribution Partners, breakout sessions to discuss detailed implementation experiences and related cost data, and a technology overview by the Gas Research Institute.

In addition to information sharing among companies, the workshop gave EPA and A.G.A. valuable information on the kind of support Partners need to effectively implement the program. Specific needs cited included information on improved volume measurements for methane and detailed cost and implementation data. EPA agreed with these recommendations and is working with the Gas Research Institute and A.G.A. on improved methane measurement methods. In addition, EPA agreed to publish generic Partner implementation experiences and cost data after receipt of each year's annual reports.

Suggestions for next year's work-shop include providing more information on STAR implementation methods and cost-effectiveness analysis and preparing a workshop proceedings with copies of all presentations and background materials.*

T&D Implementation Success

Information sharing is key to ensur-ing the most cost-effective implementation of new technology and practices. Even more, it is a vital link in ensuring the success of voluntary programs such as Natural Gas STAR. EPA appreciates the valuable contributions made by the following individuals at the STAR Transmission and Distribution Workshop. Their leadership now paves the way for the success of all program Partners tomorrow. Thanks to:

Eric Fritz, Service Engineer, Natural Gas Pipeline Company of America
Eric Fritz described NGPL's aggressive STAR implementation plan, which emphasizes decentralized decision making and communication between headquarters and compressor station managers to implement profitable inspection and maintenance programs.

Deanna Haines, Environmental Engineer, Southern California Gas Company
Deanna Haines described the STAR Program as an investment-an opportunity to be proactive rather than reactive. She documented 1993 savings associated with replacement of leaky distribution pipeline, redesign of venting systems, and decreasing the frequency of emergency blowdown procedures that vent methane.

William Ireland, Project Coordinator, Brooklyn Union Gas
William Ireland discussed an in-house survey program at 14 Brooklyn Union gate stations. In addition, he described the usefulness of overall corporate buy-in which includes including first line supervisors in the STAR decision-support process.

Ernest Lindsey, Director, Environment, Safety & Health, Natural Gas Pipeline Company of America
Ernest Lindsey described the STAR Program as a win-win opportunity for NGPL shareholders, consumers, employees, and EPA. He documented NGPL's 1993 savings of 418 MMcf (worth almost $1 million), achieved through activities that were compatible with NGPL's internal hurdle rate of 20% return on investment. NGPL is already ahead of schedule with 62% of all surface facilities included in the program and plans are underway to expand STAR implementation to all surface facilities.

Robert Mennella, Section Manager, Consolidated Edison Company of New York
Robert Mennella discussed calculations used by Con Edison to determine leak rates and gave an overview of system improvements which included the use of smart regulators that reduce system pressure and therefore leak volumes during low demand periods.

Marcello Minotti, Compressor Engineer, Tenneco Gas
Marcello Minotti said that Tenneco's decision to join the STAR Program was based on the company's desire to protect the environment, work cooperatively with EPA, enhance safety, and promote self-discovery. For a detailed description of Tenneco's implementation work, turn to page 7.

Robert Preusser, Vice President and Chief Engineer, Brooklyn Union Gas
Robert Preusser noted Brooklyn Union's status as a Charter Member of the STAR Program, pointing out that any initial concerns about working cooperatively with EPA have been unfounded. He also described that in today's environment, utilities must be cost-effective- the STAR Program fits this need.

Top of page

T&D Partner Recognition

When it comes to protecting the environment, these natural gas companies are doing a world of good. As Partners in the U.S. EPA's voluntary Natural Gas STAR Program, they are reducing emissions of methane and saving millions of dollars by adopting newly available and profitable technologies and practices.

In a little more than one year, the 37 Natural Gas STAR partners have successfully prevented methane emissions of over 1.3 billion cubic feet (BCF) -- reducing air pollution and improving corporate profitability. When Natural Gas STAR is fully underway industry-wide, up to 25 BCF of methane emissions will be reduced annually, producing industry savings of up to $50 million. A reduction of this size is equivalent to removing 3 million cars from the nation's roads.

To find out how your company can improve the environment, save money, and increase energy efficiency through this innovative government/ industry partnership, please call 202-233-9044 or write to: EPA Natural Gas STAR Program (6207J), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 401 M Street SW, Washington, DC 20460.

Top of page

 


Local Navigation


Jump to main content.