The Problem: Gas leaks from oil and gas exploration and production facilities are primarily volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which react with nitrogen oxides (NOx) in the presence of sunlight and heat to form ozone. About 44 percent of the known VOC inventory in the Denver Front Range is estimated to be from the oil and gas industry. Although leaks are included in the estimated inventory, ground level monitoring and photochemical modeling suggest that the inventory does not adequately reflect the actual VOC emissions from oil and gas operations.
Currently, the region exceeds both the 2008 and 2015 federal ozone standard (75 parts per billion (ppb) and 70 ppb respectively). Using an Optical Gas Imaging (OGI) Camera to locate and repair VOC leaks can help reduce precursor emissions that contribute to ozone formation, which assist the region in attaining the standard.
Optical emission detection is a relatively new technology that has been developed to provide rapid, accurate and safe identification of fugitive emissions. This technology enables technicians to “see” emissions of hydrocarbon vapors that are normally not visible to the naked eye. The camera provides visible images of gas emission leaks in real time, which enables precise identification of the origin. This is essential for repair activities and assessing the magnitude of leaks based on plume size and density.
The Program: In 2011, the Regional Air Quality Council (RAQC) received a Supplemental Environmental Project (SEP) grant from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) to acquire an OGI Camera for the purpose of loaning out to Qualified Users (i.e., industry representatives, local government, health department and university staff) to identify and repair gas leaks primarily at oil and gas industry exploration and production facilities across Colorado. In addition, the RAQC provides periodic training to potential Qualified Users to become level 1 certified, which enables individuals to borrow the camera for such activities. The availability of this camera has been instrumental in the identification of hundreds of leaks in the Denver Metro/North Front Range nonattainment area and the RAQC plans to continue this program for the foreseeable future.
In order to continue making the OGI camera available to local governments and industry/consultants for the purpose of leak detection and repair, as of April 2017, the RAQC will begin charging a weekly user fee to help offset the costs of annual maintenance and insurance. The fees will be assessed as follows:
Local Governments $350/week
Industry/Private Consultants $500/week
The RAQC will not pro-rate on a per day basis.
Qualified Users: OGI Level 1 certified individuals must sign an agreement and submit payment prior to checking out the camera. Potential and certified Qualified Users should contact Amanda Brimmer, Technical Program Manager, to express interest in participating in the OGI Camera Loan Program.