With the deadline from the PIPES Act of 2020 quickly approaching on December 27, 2021, many pipeline operators are in the process of updating their inspection and maintenance plans or operations and maintenance manuals to meet the requirements.

Operators must have a plan in place to reduce the release of methane during normal operations, including voluntary venting. You can read the full notice of the Act here.

Here are a few things to keep in mind as you develop plans to reduce emissions:

It’s more than just leaks. It may be the prevention of pipeline leaks that first comes to mind when you think of emission reduction, however, voluntary venting is another factor to consider. Many operators are aware of the need to replace aging infrastructure and those plans are underway. In fact, Artera operating companies are partnering with customers across the country to replace leak-prone pipelines resulting in a reduction of fugitive emissions. The next step for operators is to consider how they can mitigate methane emissions that occur during voluntary venting.

Did you know methane has a higher greenhouse gas (GHG) effect than carbon dioxide? The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says methane has a global warming potential of 28-36 over 100 years, despite a shorter lifespan in the atmosphere. This means the benefits of reducing methane emissions can have a positive effect to mitigate climate change in the near term.

There are alternatives to voluntary venting. Normal pipeline and maintenance operations often include voluntary venting in order to allow operators to safely work on areas of the pipeline.  In 2020, a joint study was conducted by the American Gas Association (AGA) operations engineering and environmental matters steering committees on methods to reduce voluntary blow-down events. You can read their findings here. One of the recommended methods includes utilizing cross compression to recycle gas back into the pipeline. The process of the operation includes: 1. Isolating a section of pipeline in need of maintenance or repair, 2. Depressurizing that section utilizing a purge and pack cross compression process that compresses the normally vented volume downstream of the isolation point back into the pressurized operating pipeline. Watch the full process here.

Cross compression is good for communities. Voluntary venting not only has an environmental impact, it also impacts our communities. Venting often leads to fears of gas leaks and unnecessary 911 calls, potentially distracting emergency responders from higher priority situations. By reducing or eliminating the need for venting with cross compression, essential utility maintenance and repairs can take place with minimal community impact.

Does your O&M manual include a plan for voluntary emission reduction? We’d love to hear how you’re tackling those challenges and be a partner in your solution.

Versiv Solutions can help. Our innovative cross compression service keeps gas in pipelines, reduces methane emissions, and positively impacts our communities. Learn more or request a project quote at bit.ly/crosscompression.