Using digital technology to reduce emissions

Using digital technology to reduce emissions

Cenovus has reduced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the White Rose offshore field by taking a close look at emissions sources.

SeaRose floating production, storage and offloading vessel

How low are emissions from Canada’s Atlantic offshore industry?

According to the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB), in 2020 Newfoundland and Labrador (NL) offshore upstream oil and natural gas production accounted for 0.22% (yes, that’s less than 1%!) of Canada’s total emissions.

Emissions from the offshore industry are already low but operators maintain their focus on further reductions. Here’s one example: a greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions dashboard developed by Cenovus, majority owner and operator of the offshore White Rose field and the SeaRose floating production, storage and offloading (FPSO) vessel.

In 2022, Cenovus developed the dashboard to provide real-time information on its offshore operations. The technology went live in September 2022 and is now monitoring operations and emissions at the SeaRose FPSO around the clock. This level of visibility provides the company with an opportunity to be systematic and in control by understanding how operational changes impact performance and, in turn, GHG emissions.

Cenovus also implemented a product called ‘emissions.AI’ that monitors energy consumers (on-board equipment that uses energy, from heating and lights to pumps and generators) and emissions generated from these sources and uses artificial intelligence (AI) to identify operational inefficiencies. This information provides insights for future improvements and GHG emissions reductions.

From 2007 to 2021, absolute GHG emissions from the SeaRose FPSO were reduced by approximately half, from 640,000 of CO2 equivalent in 2007 to 331,500 CO2 equivalent in 2021.

Focus on flaring

From 2016 to 2018, flaring accounted for an average of 35% of total emissions from SeaRose FPSO. Cenovus undertook a major focus to reduce flaring, with positive results: in the 2019 to 2021 period, the company cut emissions from flaring to 25% of SeaRose total emissions. This reduction was accomplished in part by taking a good look at emissions sources: flaring, main power generators, boilers, fugitive emissions (small, uncontrolled emissions) and diesel-fuelled equipment. By creating a way to track emissions from various sources, Cenovus pinpointed sources that could be efficiently reduced.

MORE ON FLARING

WHAT IS ROUTINE 'FLARING'?

Routine flaring is the controlled burning of waste gases from oil and natural gas operations. The main purpose behind routine flaring is to prevent unburned gases from escaping into the atmosphere. However, routine flaring does result in the release of GHG emissions such as carbon dioxide (CO2), methane and other compounds – so a decrease in routine flaring reduces carbon dioxide emissions equivalent, or ‘CO2e.’

WHAT IF COUNTRIES REDUCED FLARING LIKE CANADA?

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*References to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in this article refer to Scope 1 emissions, meaning direct greenhouse gas emissions that occur from sources that are controlled or owned by an organization.