Obama Drilling Expansion In Alaska Falls Short For Some

October 2012, Vol. 67 No. 10

Emissions From Leaks, Glycol Hydrators, Centrifugal Compressors To Be Regulated
The transmission pipeline industry will have three years to reduce emissions from equipment leaks and small glycol hydrators in order to comply with new EPA Clean Air Act rules. Those rules were announced in August, and stem from two different programs. One program regulates emissions of volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) such as nitrogen oxide, the other regulates hazardous air pollutants (HAPs), in this case benzene, ethylbenzene, toluene and xylene (BTEX).

Those looking for a silver lining may want to dwell on the fact that the EPA decided not to regulate methane emissions in the VOC rule, nor emissions from pneumatic controllers. VOC emissions are covered by what are called subpart OOOO regulations. The EPA acknowledged that regulating pneumatic controllers in the pipeline industry would only cover 67 "sources" whose emissions of VOCs are 0.1 tons per year (TPY) per facility or about six TBY nationwide for new sources, which is well below the level emitted by other affected facilities in this sector. "We have concluded that additional evaluation of these compliance and burden issues is appropriate prior to taking final action on pneumatic controllers in the transmission and storage segment," the agency said.

However, the new subpart OOOO standards do cover centrifugal compressors with wet seals which will have to reduce VOC emissions by 95 percent. That will have to be done within three years, as will new requirements for reciprocating compressors which will have to change rod packing after 26,000 hours or 36 months. El Paso, for example, had argued that wet seals should not be considered an affected facility, given the fact that dry seals have been used almost exclusively recently and replacing existing wet seals would cost nearly $200,000 per seal, according to Trinh Tran, supervisor, Air and Carbon Management, El Paso.