One of the most notable outcomes from COP28 has been a unilateral call to transition away from fossil fuels, reducing all carbon emissions to net zero by 2050. A major step forward in that direction across many industries is the adoption of net-zero scope 1 and scope 2 emission targets by 2030. These commitments aren’t alien to the oil & gas industry either, and there’s a rapid adoption of measures focused on sustainability and environmental conscientiousness among the largest oil & gas producers.
While most emissions at oil & gas production sites are from flaring, enhanced recovery, and well testing; a significant chunk of the environmental and carbon impact also comes from the development of infrastructure and energy utilization to run operations. Upgrading oil & gas operations to adopt more environment-friendly processes can go a long way in reducing these direct emissions and helping the transition to net zero. This article focuses on the wellsite infrastructure that can help make production operations more sustainable.
Skids: The backbone of sustainable infrastructure
Wellsites are impermanent where the life of one’s assets is tied to the well’s production life, which can vary from a few years to a couple of decades. This creates a need to minimize the development and set-up costs associated with wells, balanced against the potential production from the well. Skid-based systems are thus a natural choice for these conditions and help decrease both the expenditure to develop wells and the associated emissions of it. These benefits can be broadly classified in the following categories:
- Production and material optimization
Skid-based systems are built on principles of modularity and leanness, allowing the same assets to be used across multiple sites and in multiple environments. This ease of relocation and modularity can allow for quicker deployment of wellsite assets without investing in the construction and development of site infrastructure. The resultant savings in both capital expenditure and carbon emissions from development go a long way in contributing to operational sustainability. This adaptability aligns with sustainability goals by extending the lifespan of equipment, promoting resource efficiency, and contributing to a circular economy.
- Reduced Environmental Footprint
Skid-based systems are designed with a smaller environmental footprint in mind. The portability and self-sufficiency of these systems ensures minimal infrastructure development and low resulting disruption of natural habitats. Additionally, skid-based systems for production wellsites can be equipped with processes for produced water disposal, well reinjection, and leak/spillage monitoring. These help minimize waste-water production, leakages, and environmental spillage.
- Energy Efficiency
Energy consumption at the wellsite comes mainly from the operational pumps and motors, alongside primary and secondary automation/electrical systems and utilities. Skid-based systems allow for modular improvements and additions to operational systems, e.g. switching to DC-driven motors, using more energy-efficient electronic and electrical devices, and adding solar power for control and utilities systems. These enhancements help improve the energy efficiency of skid-based systems through modular upgrades without planning for capital-intensive and shutdown-driven projects.
- Pressure Protection and Chemical Injection for Downstream Asset Protection
Wellsite skids and packages go beyond extraction processes; they also serve as guardians of downstream assets. With built-in pressure protection and chemical injection functions, these systems ensure the safeguarding of pipelines and equipment. By preventing pressure-related incidents and controlling corrosion through chemical injection, skids contribute to the longevity and reliability of downstream assets. This protection not only reduces the risk of environmental damage from potential leaks but also enhances the overall sustainability of the oil and gas infrastructure.
In conclusion, the integration of innovative wellsite skids and packages represents a significant step forward in enhancing sustainability within the oil and gas industry. These systems not only streamline operations and improve efficiency but also address key environmental challenges by reducing the industry’s overall ecological footprint. As the global demand for energy continues to rise, the adoption of such sustainable practices becomes imperative for the industry’s long-term viability. By embracing these technologies, oil and gas companies can not only contribute to a more sustainable future but also ensure their own resilience in an evolving and environmentally conscious market.