In crude oil and natural gas production, flare gas systems are utilized all across the globe, to burn and dispose off the excess gas. Accurate and authentic measurement of flare gas is important in order to assure systematic operations of flare gas system, thereby protecting people and environment and creating a safe work culture.
Flow meters required for flare gas monitoring provides plant operation managers with an intelligent tool to convey message of abnormal process and early leak detection. They also comply with safety and environmental standards made by government. These systems are installed on onshore and offshore platforms, at storage tank farms, on transport ships and along distribution pipelines.
Consequences of improper natural gas handling are well known and are strictly monitored by Environmental Protection Agency along with various other international safety organizations. The flammable and combustible properties of hydrocarbons make their handling a highly regulated process, thereby requiring flow meter design certifications from numerous international agencies.
In a process to lower down the global warming, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and various agencies at different levels of government all around the world are imposing strict regulations that may differ for abatement and air pollution monitoring. The transformation of these waste gases to clean electricity and their integration into the power grid is also appreciated by governments of various countries.
Many refineries and chemical plants have installed flare gas system that are especially designed for important flow conditions such as very low flow under normal conditions and sudden turbulent flow under very high upset condition. Plant operators and engineers are then further challenged to strictly comply with the emissions trading authorities and environmental agencies for flow meter accuracy across entire measuring range.
Flow measurement systems bring various challenges to process and instrument engineers while selecting a flow meter solution. Apart from low flow rates and turbulent high flow rates at the time of upset conditions, there are numerous other criteria to consider at the time of selecting a flow meter system. Mixed gases require flow meter calibration especially for hydrocarbon gases and matches to the actual process conditions. Large pipe size increases the effective and flow metering technology options.
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At the time of selecting a flow meter for flare gas applications, plant operators and engineer have to go through consolidated check list. There are multiple flow measurement technologies to choose from and not all are well suited to provide proper reliability, accuracy and rugged operating environment in petroleum industry. For instance, flow meter technologies are better at recording volume than mass flow. Accuracy of flow meters is highly influenced by heat and some sensor technologies to maintain proper accuracy. Numerous moving parts are acceptable in some environments for providing better operational accuracy and allows for smooth functioning of the processes.
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