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Dominion Energy to reduce methane emissions from gas infrastructure

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LNG Industry,

Dominion Energy has announced that it has launched a new initiative to reduce methane emissions from its natural gas infrastructure by 50% over the next decade, based on 2010 levels.

According to the statement, this will stop over 430 000 metric t of methane from entering the atmosphere. Dominion Energy claims that this is the equivalent of taking 2.3 million cars off the road for a year, or planting nearly 180 million new trees.

This voluntary initiative follows on from the company’s efforts towards reducing methane emissions over the last decade, which have prevented more than 180 000 metric t of methane from entering the atmosphere. Furthermore, it also builds on the 50% reduction in carbon emissions that Dominion Energy has achieved across its electric fleet since 2000, and the advances it is making with renewable energy.

Diane Leopold, President and CEO of Dominion Energy’s Gas Infrastructure Group, said: “We recognise we need to do more to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to further combat climate change.

“We’ve made significant progress, but we’re determined to go much further. With this initiative, we are transforming the way we do business to build a more sustainable future for the planet, our customers, and our industry.”

Dominion Energy says that it will achieve these emissions reductions in three primary ways:

  • Reducing or eliminating gas venting during planned maintenance and inspections.
  • Replacing older equipment across its system with new, low-emission equipment.
  • Expanding leak detection and repair programs across its entire system.

The company claims that with this new initiative, it is taking a leading role in the industry by reducing methane emissions across its entire system – from production and storage to transmission and distribution.

Reducing or eliminating venting during maintenance and inspection

According to the statement, gas venting during planned maintenance and inspection is the main source of methane emissions from the company’s transmission and distribution pipeline system. In order to carry out maintenance or inspection on pipelines and compressor stations, natural gas sometimes has to be removed from the system, which, historically, was done by venting it into the atmosphere. A primary focus of the company’s initiative will be significantly reducing or even eliminating venting during maintenance activities.

One example is the company’s use of Zero Emissions Vacuum and Compression (ZEVAC®) technology to capture methane before maintenance or inspection so that it can be recycled for use in other parts of the system. After piloting the technology on a limited scale, Dominion Energy claims that it recently purchased 16 ZEVAC units from TPE Midstream for widespread use across its distribution and transmission pipeline systems.

Leopold added: “Instead of venting methane when we do maintenance or inspection, we’re now capturing, recycling and reusing it so it stays in our system and out of the atmosphere.”

Mark Webb, Dominion Energy’s Chief Innovation Officer, added: “Thanks to advances in technology and innovations in our operating procedures, we can capture methane on a much larger scale than we could have 10 years ago.

“We’ve tested and proven these technologies in some parts of our infrastructure, and now we’re dramatically expanding them across the entire system.”

Replacing older equipment with new, lower-emission equipment

Although gas venting is the largest source of methane emissions, there are other minor sources that can add up to larger volumes. Dominion Energy is focused on reducing these sources by replacing older equipment with new low-emission equipment.

Leopold said: “A great example is our program to replace natural gas-powered pumps at our gas producing wells with solar-powered electric pumps, which reduces methane emissions at these facilities by more than 90%.”

According to the statement, Dominion Energy is also replacing other aging equipment across its system, including bare-steel pipe, cast-iron pipe, valves, fittings, joints and seals to reduce or even eliminate these emissions sources.

Expanding leak detection and repair programs across the entire system

Even after emissions have been reduced from gas venting and aging equipment, there is still more the company can do to reduce minor emissions that are often the hardest to detect because they are odourless and cannot be seen or heard.

Over the last decade, Dominion Energy claims that it has made significant progress using infrared cameras to help find even the smallest emissions. This program will reportedly be increased to detect and repair these minor emissions sources across every part of the company’s natural gas system – from production and storage to transmission and distribution.

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