Issues related to Environmental and natural resources have increasingly gained importance in the recent half of the 20th century and the onset of the 21st century. The ever increasing populations across the world have resulted in an escalating burden on natural resources such as water bodies, land, and air. Thus concerns on the survival of these natural resources regarding the increasing human population is becoming a global issue (A.K. Mehrotra 2008, 234).
Sustainability is the study of how the systems that exist naturally persistently operate to produce the requirements for the ecosystem entirely to remain in a state of equilibrium. There are pillars which contribute to the social science of sustainable existence i.e. the social, economic and environmental pillars. Thus the problems associated with these pillars forms the issues particularly in engineering fields, and a formidable action should be taken to avert possible threats to sustainability (Bobok 2009, 556).
This paper focuses on the various sustainability issues that are related to oil and gas industry. These problems pose threats to the existence of sustainable development both to and should be taken seriously for the betterment of future of humankind. Some of the possible measures that should be taken to combating some of these issues are also discussed. Further, the factors that have contributed to the cause of the major issue of the greenhouse gas emission is elaborated (Bobok 2009, 560).
There exist numerous issues associated with the petroleum industry. They include
‘A case study is the shell, Rockwell oil and gas plant. Philip Tracy states that oil and gas producers are working hard to ensure they drill through a period manifested by a historically lower power barrel oil costs. Thus it’s more crucial to reducing the maintenance and repair costs. In that line, shell plant has gone more digital to producing slightly over 25000 wells worldwide, and many of the wells are situated in challenging areas i.e. over a thousand meters underground. They have managed to solve this by applying a smart field technology which involves the installation of communication systems such as sensors on its equipment’s (Environment 2012, 511).
For example, the pumps and the valves, the primary function of theses sensors is to detect the changes in various variables such as temperature, pressures among other parameters then sends signals to the control system which may be a programmable logic control to take an appropriate action. Furthermore, the engineers get to monitor and optimize each process. When the sensors are incorporated it means that the duty that would have been performed by people is taken care of thus there are almost zero chances of accidents happening, or in case there is an accident here will be no casualties (Environment 2012, 515).
This technology has promoted an increased production of oil and gas commodities as well as minimizing the downtime and improvement of the overall oil and gas recovery. Furthermore, the overall production costs are reduced while reducing the risks that are associated with health which is a greater benefit (Speight 2016, 422).
Philip Tracy further proceeds to explain that the process involved in converting the hydrocarbons which are turned in the underground into gas to be used for filling personal cars is very involving. Hence all the process starting from the extraction, the refining processes, and transportation to gas station necessitates high efficiency and reliability which is seen in the Rockwell Automation on how they have managed to tackle the complex situations. They are using Microsoft services in the field which entails a combination of sensors, software and solution based on a cloud to predict and analyses the material failure, monitor the performance as well as improving the designs while preventing future breakdowns (Environment 2012, 520).
According to Rockwell, one pump in the offshore rig can bring operations to a stop and result in a loss of $100000 to $ 300000 in a single day. Thus the smart drilling system is of much benefit. The Rockwell Company is also underway with processes of providing smart gas pumps which will be able to collect data and convey it on a dashboard to be viewed by Android, PC or windows phone user.
For instance, a case study on a program that fights for the environmental standard, ExxonMobil recognizes that the venting emissions in 2015 was approximated to be six million metric tons of carbon iv oxide and have been radically reduced due to the measures applied. The fugitive and venting measures primarily methane is averagely 5 % of the direct greenhouse gas emissions and the putting up of cost effective measures such as substituting the high bleed pneumatic devices using a minimized radiation technology and leading the greenhouse completions towards the upstream operations has effectively worked (Erik Eberhardt 2007, 333).
Furthermore, an XTO energy company manages the carbon and methane emissions by applying containment practices during the process of drilling, completion as well as during the production operations. The emissions are additionally regulated by a mixture of regulatory and voluntary actions such as the implementations of leak detection techniques and maintenance programmers. These are aided through the uses of sensors which will help to sense the changes during the production and transportation process. Furthermore after the drilling operations of a new well, the workers ensure proper preparation of the production equipment’s by making sure that the products of the natural gas are confined by the product material by optimizing the sensors and imaging cameras, the leakage parts that would not be quickly realized or visible are easily located and appropriate measures are taken (G.G. Nasr 2014, 810).
Another test that helps to curb the greenhouse emission effects is the cogeneration technology which seizures the heat that is produced during the oil and gas production .the cogeneration facilities contribute to minimizing the gas emissions, and they approximately prevent 6 million metric tons of the greenhouse emissions annually. In conclusion, promoting the construction of the cogeneration facilities will greatly help to minimize the greenhouse gas emissions, already the ExxonMobil has started the construction of an 84-megawatt cogeneration facility in Singapore sites (G.G. Nasr 2014, 813).
Thus, appropriate measures such as the use of downhole oil and water separation techniques, these techniques ensures that water and oil are separated when still within the wellbore so that only gas or oil that contains little amount of water is conveyed to the surface. This is aided by the use of downhole monitoring equipment’s and cables (Howard B. Bradley 2007, 294).
Also, the treatment of the water from the oil plant before being taken into the atmosphere. Once the water is treated, it will be very safe to use in agricultural operations such as irrigation or any other secondary industrial operations. Moreover, the treated water can also be used beneficially in fire operations .a case study is in the western USA where reports have it that larger amounts of the produced water are used as sources of firefighting operations at Colorado and Durango .furthermore, the reusing of the water is also an important measure. When the water is reused once again in the production process, both the plant and marine life will not be affected since there are no emissions (Huacan Fang 2014, 447).
Other measures of curbing land and water pollution are the freeze-thaw evaporation process whereby individual process such as a freezing and conventional evaporations of the produced water is applied. The produced water is cooled at very low temperatures such that it starts to crystallize. After that, the ice is collected and melted to produce clean water for use (Rusco 2010, 200).
The challenge associated with greenhouse emissions have been mostly provided by the original design of the oil and gas plants .the design of the system does not allow for an appropriate measure to curb the emissions from being permitted into the atmosphere. Engineers have played a role in propagating this challenge and if not keenly looked into it will have adverse effects shortly. There is no proper measure that was employed during the design, and thus the carbon and methane gasses freely go into the atmosphere and consequently result in global warming and climate change. If appropriate measures such as rechanneling of the carbon and emissions into underground storage channels were put into place during the design process, this issue would not be a factor (Hurst 2009, 835).
Furthermore, the design has not fully incorporated the use of efficient technologies to avert the problems that may be associated with fire or accidents from the oil and gas plant. For instance the oil spillage at the offshore. If the control devices such as the sensors were incorporated into the design, then it would have been easy to notice a situation where there are leakages and thus preventing the occurrences of accidences and deaths. Thus new technologies if adopted would help solve these challenges (John R. Fanchi 2016, 118).
Other factors that have contributed to the lack of proper regulations on the production of oil and gas production companies. There are many oil and gas production plants worldwide which produce petroleum oil in large quantities annually. Bearing in mind that it is all these processes that contribute to greenhouse gas emissions starting from the extraction, production and transportation process. Despite all theses, there have been limited regulations which would help to avert the greenhouse gas emissions (Mahto 2016, 721).
If there were conditions that a company should meet to embark on the production process, the emissions would have been reduced with its general accompanying effects. For instance, if these enterprises would be required to embrace the cogeneration technology which seizures the heat that is produced during the oil and gas production. Setting up a cogeneration facility before the setting of the plant as a requirement would be of much significance (Mian 2007, 532).
Besides, putting up of cost effective measures such as substituting the high bleed pneumatic devices using a minimized emission technology and directing the greenhouse completions towards the upstream operations has effectively worked as a limit would consequently help to curb this challenge (Norman Myers 2013, 184).
Issues related to the oil and gas production should be taken into keen consideration to prevent adverse effects from occurring in the near future. Primarily these challenges contribute to global warming and climate change which is not desirable for both plant and human life. Thus applying some of the recommended measures would help to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions and other resulting impacts (world 2010, 377).
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