There is a decades-old technology called “hot tapping” – developed in part by TransCanada and now used industry wide – that allows a new pipeline to be connected to an existing high-pressure pipe without releasing methane that would have otherwise been vented into the atmosphere.
Capturing and reusing methane – a potent greenhouse gas (GHG) – instead of releasing it to the atmosphere has driven TransCanada’s research and development for many years, and continues today.
“Why do we do this? Because we believe technological innovation is critical to managing the complex issues surrounding GHG emissions,” said Jim Cormack, senior climate change advisor at TransCanada. “As a leading North American energy infrastructure company, we recognize our role in the discussion on reducing the world’s emissions.”
Hot tapping is one of many innovative solutions that TransCanada is looking into as we develop Energy East – a pipeline project that will include the conversion of around 3,000 kilometres of natural gas pipeline to oil transport – and other critical infrastructure projects.
Part of the global effort
As the 2015 Paris Climate Conference kicks off two weeks of talks between world leaders, climate experts and members of civil society on action to curb GHG emissions, we want to take this opportunity to affirm our support for the Canadian government’s effort to tackle climate change.
Canada can lead the way in producing and transporting the energy millions of people rely on every day – to fuel transportation, heat or cool homes, cook food and manufacture day-to-day essentials such as cellphones, clothes or medical equipment – while contributing to a healthy environment.
The use of oil and gas has radically enhanced the lives of billions, extending life expectancy and raising the standard of living for many across the world.
Energy comes from many sources, each with properties well suited for particular applications. We have yet to find a way to meet all our needs with emission-less energy sources, and until then fossil fuels will continue to be a key part of our energy mix. So, continuing to invest in reducing the emissions of these fossil fuels is paramount to our future.
Energy demand continues to rise
According to the International Energy Agency, global energy demand is set to grow by 37 percent by 2040 and although the development path for a growing world population and economy will be less energy-intensive and will be marked by a shift to lower-carbon fuels, oil and gas will still help meet nearly two thirds of these global energy needs.
Although rising, solar and wind will represent only 4 percent of the global energy mix by 2040.
That’s why the energy sector continues to invest billions each year to generate emission-less energy and find innovative solutions to develop high-efficiency, lower-emitting technology.
Investing in innovative solutions
The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) estimates that Canada’s oil and gas industry is investing more than $1.2 billion on hundreds of innovative solutions to reduce GHGs and minimize the impact of projects on land and water resources.
“Our industry developed the technology to get the oil out of the sand, and we will develop the technology to take carbon out of the barrel,” said Tim McMillan, CAPP president and chief executive officer, ahead of the Paris summit. Environment Canada reports that emissions per barrel of oil produced from the oil sands are down 30 percent from 1990 levels. “We know we can do more and we will do more,” McMillan says.
As well as its $5 billion emission-less energy portfolio, TransCanada has a multi-decade legacy of investing in research and innovation to manage GHG emissions from its pipeline assets.
R&D applied to emissions management
Here are just a few examples of how technological innovation can curb GHG emissions:
- “Blowdown emissions” consist of natural gas that would normally be vented to the atmosphere from pipelines, compressors and yard piping to allow for repairs and maintenance. We introduced pull-down compressor units to capture and recycle natural gas that would have traditionally been released through venting or flaring.
- We’ve funded the development of a “supersonic ejector” that can capture emissions of methane from a dry-gas seal that would also have previously been vented into the atmosphere, and re-inject it into the natural gas pipeline.
- We’ve partnered with Rolls-Royce to conduct trials on a new generation of gas turbine, which provides more power to move oil and gas through our networks of pipelines as well as greater fuel efficiency.
We are committed to moving the needle for our industry and managing our own GHG emissions. We know we can do more, and we’ll continue to invest in programs and initiatives to deliver the energy North Americans need in a safe and environmentally-responsible manner.
The technologies developed will help us ensure that environmental responsibility and shared economic benefits from the production and transport of energy resources are not mutually exclusive.
Both can be achieved.