Fugitive Emissions and Industrial Valves: 7 Things You Need to Know

Earlier this year, the EPA released a draft report showing that methane emissions from the oil and gas industry were much higher than previously thought. And just last month, the agency finalized the first-ever standards to cut methane emissions from this sector. The goal is to reduce emissions by 40% to 45% compared to 2012 levels by 2025.

As environmental concerns continue to rise to the forefront, here are seven things you should know about fugitive emissions and valves.

1. Fugitive emissions are costing you a lot of money, and not just in fines

This isn’t just an environmental concern — fugitive emissions mean product loss.

A recent study showed that globally as much as 3.6 trillion cubic feet of natural gas leaks into the atmosphere every year. This represents $30 billion or more in lost revenue annually.

2. Valves are the top source of industrial fugitive emissions

Estimates of how much valves are to blame for fugitive emissions varies. But everyone agrees that it’s at least half!

About three-quarters of valve emissions come from pipeline valves, largely control valves. Another roughly 10% come from relief valves.

3. Control valves provide a lot of potential leak paths for fugitive emissions

Control valves are the biggest culprits because their design offers a lot of opportunities for fugitive emissions to escape. This article in Valve Magazine goes into detail about leak paths. In general, the dynamic stem-seal interface of globe-style control valves is where most leakage occurs.

4. A large majority of leakage comes from just a few components

From the above discussions, it may seem like all valves leak and there isn’t much you can do about it.

But that’s not true. According to this article from Flow Control Network, 80% to 90% of emissions at a facility are due to only the top 5% to 10% of leaking components.

5. New packing designs, sealing techniques, and maintenance activities can help keep fugitive emissions to a minimum

The EPA considers bellows seal valves to be zero-emissions devices. However, bellows seals aren’t cost effective for all applications and facilities. Companies can still reduce their emissions significantly through proper valve packing and stem sealing, as well as by following a maintenance program.

Learn more about low-emissions valve technology.

6. The American Petroleum Institute is currently developing new standards related to testing for fugitive emissions

  • In 2014, the API published the first edition of “API 624: Type Testing of Rising Stem Valves Equipped with Graphite Packing for Fugitive Emissions.”
  • “API 622 Type Testing of Process Valve Packing for Fugitive Emissions” is up for revision.
  • “API 641, Type Testing of Quarter-Turn Valves for Fugitive Emissions” is soon to come.

Learn more about API 622 and 624.

7. The time to do something about your fugitive emissions is now

With the new EPA standard coming into play, you can’t afford to have excessive fugitive emissions escaping from your pipelines or your facilities. If you do, you will be fined, and that fine won’t be insignificant.

Contact us to discuss options for controlling fugitive emissions from your valves. Our technicians can answer your questions and help recommend the best, most cost-effective solutions for your applications.

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