International experts gathered in al-Khobar to discuss the challenges of balancing the ever-growing worldwide need for energy with the responsibility of doing so in an environmentally sustainable manner. Held under the patronage of HRH Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman bin ‘Abd al-‘Aziz Al Sa‘ud, Deputy Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources, the Global Methane Initiative for the Oil and Gas Sector Workshop and Exhibition took place over four days. “The Kingdom is fully aware that sustainable economic development will not be achieved without taking the issue of climate change into account,’’ Prince Abdulaziz said in making his welcoming remarks to attendees. He reiterated the Kingdom’s commitment to devoting its full attention to making specific contributions on issues pertaining to climate change, such as methane initiatives and carbon management, to be submitted before the United Nations Climate Change Conference 2015 in Paris at the end of the year. Saudi Aramco adopted its first environmental protection policy framework in 1963 — a decade before the United Nations’ landmark Conference on the Human Environment, and has an all-encompassing approach to environmental stewardship. Saudi Aramco’s efforts include ensuring the proper design of facilities, innovative technological tools, conservation and waste management efforts, and comprehensive energy efficiency programs. Specific to the issue of tackling greenhouse gas emissions and particularly methane emissions, the company undertakes these four initiatives:
- Methane recovery and utilization, most notably the development of the Master Gas System 40 years ago, which captures gas produced in association with crude oil, processes it and provides it to a wide array of industries and utilities that would otherwise be consuming petroleum products. As a result, Saudi Aramco reduced its flaring to practically zero by the early 1980s.
- A Corporate Flaring Minimization Roadmap that establishes guidelines to further reduce and minimize flaring, and calls for the installation of flare gas recovery systems.
- Utilization of zero-discharge technology in the company’s drilling and workover operations captures all hydrocarbons intermittently produced during drilling operations.
- Minimizing and, ideally, eliminating fugitive methane emissions from pumps, valves, tanks, pipelines and other equipment in the company’s processing facilities.