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Wellsite Vapor Control for Driving Environmental and Economic Performance

Vapor recovery units (VRUs) are designed to capture and recover various emissions and vapors generated during oil and gas operations. These units play a crucial role in minimizing the release of harmful pollutants into the atmosphere, providing significant economic and environmental benefits.

Sources and Types of Well Site Emissions

Common sources of emissions and vapors on well sites that VRUs can capture include:

  1. Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs): VOCs are organic chemicals that easily evaporate at room temperature and contribute to air pollution. They are released during various stages of oil and gas operations, including production, storage, and transportation. Common VOCs found in well site emissions include methane, ethane, propane, butane, and various hydrocarbons.

  2. Benzene, Toluene, Ethylbenzene, and Xylene (BTEX): BTEX compounds are a subset of VOCs that are particularly hazardous to human health and the environment. They are often found in emissions from oil and gas operations and can be released during drilling, production, and storage processes. Benzene, in particular, is a known carcinogen.

  3. Storage Tanks: Storage tanks used to hold crude oil, condensate, and other hydrocarbons can emit vapors due to the pressure changes and the evaporation of volatile components. Natural gas vapors will accumulate in the headspace of storage tanks for both crude oil and produced water over time. VRUs can capture these natural gas vapors that would otherwise be vented or flared.

  4. Flare Gas: Flaring, the controlled burning of excess gases, is a common practice in oil and gas operations. However, flaring leads to the release of significant amounts of greenhouse gases and other pollutants, notably NOx, which is a precursor to ozone development. VRUs can capture the gases that would otherwise be flared, providing an opportunity to recover and utilize them.

  5. Loading/Unloading Operations: During the transfer of oil and gas products between storage tanks, trucks, and pipelines, vapors can be released. VRUs can capture these vapors, reducing emissions and preventing the escape of volatile substances into the air.

Benefits of Vapor Management on the Well Site

Broadly speaking, VRUs offer oil and gas operators both environmental and economic benefits:

Environmental Benefits

  1. Reduction in greenhouse gas emissions: One of the primary advantages of VRUs is their ability to capture and recover volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emitted during the production and storage of oil and gas. VOCs, methane in particular, are potent greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change. By installing VRUs, operators can significantly minimize these emissions, thereby reducing their carbon footprint.

  2. Protection of air quality: In addition to VOCs, oil and gas operations release other hazardous air pollutants such as benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylene (BTEX). These compounds have adverse health effects on both humans and the environment. VRUs prevent the release of BTEX and other harmful vapors into the atmosphere, helping to safeguard air quality and protect the health of nearby communities and ecosystems.

  3. Mitigation of odors: Oil and gas production and processing operations can produce strong odors that can cause discomfort and distress to nearby residents. VRUs effectively capture these odorous compounds, preventing their dispersion into the surroundings and mitigating odor-related complaints.

Economic Benefits

  1. Increased resource recovery: VRUs not only provide environmental benefits but also offer economic advantages through enhanced resource recovery. By capturing and recovering valuable hydrocarbons that would otherwise be lost to the atmosphere, operators can maximize their production yield and revenue. The recovered hydrocarbons can be sold or reused, contributing to the overall profitability of the operation.

  2. Regulatory compliance and cost savings: Many regions have stringent regulations in place to control air pollution from oil and gas operations. Failure to comply with these regulations can result in fines and penalties. By installing VRUs, operators can meet or exceed these requirements, ensuring compliance and avoiding costly penalties.

  3. Gas capture compliance. North Dakota and New Mexico have instituted minimum gas capture rates for oil and gas operators in those states, and VRUs can help operators meet those standards.

  4. Beneficial use: Vapors captured by VRUs can be recycled or used as fuel within the facility, reducing the need for additional energy sources and resulting in cost savings.

  5. Enhanced public image and stakeholder confidence: As sustainability becomes a key consideration for businesses across industries, oil and gas companies that demonstrate their commitment to environmental stewardship gain a competitive edge. Installing VRUs showcases a proactive approach to reducing emissions and protecting the environment, enhancing the public image of the company and fostering stakeholder confidence.

  6. Ease of permitting. In our blog article How VRUs Help You Take Advantage of Permit By Rule in Texas, we cover how installing a VRU on a well site can help operators of oil and gas producing assets in Texas can take advantage of “Permit by Rule” (PBR) administered by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). By installing a VRU and reducing a well site or production pad’s Potential to Emit (PTE), an operator can turn a well to production significantly faster and at a lower regulatory cost.

In summary, VRUs deliver a host of environmental and economic benefits. By capturing and recovering vapors that would otherwise contribute to greenhouse gas emissions, air pollution, and odors, VRUs play a vital role in helping operators with compliance, mitigating the environmental impact of their operations, and achieving their environmental performance objectives and strengthening their ability to deliver affordable and reliable energy to the world’s growing population in a sustainable way.

High-Performance VRUs – The Platinum Advantage

Platinum VRUs punch above their class, typically moving 30% more gas volume for the same horsepower rating as competing units, because of our innovative design and quality materials. Our VRUs can capture low pressure gas from oil and produced water storage tanks, flare scrubbers, water knockouts, and other sources of fugitive emissions so you can convert these gas streams into revenue while reducing emissions.

The Platinum Advantage

Our core competency in Facilities Optimization sets us apart. We work with operators in the Permian Basin of all sizes, from companies having only a handful of wells to supermajors. As a result, we leverage the experience gained with larger operators, build best practices into our products and services, and then disseminate that knowledge to our smaller customers.

A well site or facility with an optimized configuration will help you harness its full potential, maximizing its long-term economic value and environmental performance.

Contact us today at to learn more about how our VRUs can help you harness the full potential of your well site, maximize ROI, and achieve your environmental performance goals.


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