Q&A with Paul Munding: Vapor recovery can have positive impact on wellhead operators’ business and public image

Vapor recovery can have positive impact on wellhead operators’ business, public image

Q: What is vapor recovery and how does proper vapor recovery setup positively and economically impact operators’ business?

A: Vapor recovery is the process of capturing natural gas vapors at the wellhead that would otherwise be vented, flared or combusted due to inadequate pressure available to push into the sales line. These vapors are rich with natural gas liquids, which are considered volatile organic compounds. The liquids have high Btu content and deliver premium value when sold as compared to pure methane. With current state and federal air regulations, operators have the choice to capture these vapors or burn them. However, why burn a product that one has taken a mineral lease to produce? Not only do these vapors bring a premium in value to operators when sold but it also shows the operator as a good neighbor to the communities in which they operate by capturing the gas vapors rather than continuously flaring them.

Q: Does vapor recovery allow operators to make money while staying in compliance with state and federal air regulations?

A: Yes, in fact vapor recovery is the only solution that allows operators to make money while staying in compliance with state and federal air regulations. These regulations require operators to reduce volatile organic compounds emissions by 95 percent. In fact, given the rich natural gas liquids nature of vapor recovery, oil and gas well sites producing as little as 10 thousand cubic feet per day can generate revenue given the correct compressor sizing. Operators can measure the Btu content per million cubic feet in a sample of their vapors. This can allow one to generate the value of the gas on a dollars per million Btu basis. This is often two to three times the value of natural gas composed of pure methane.

Q: How can operators realize the maximum operational benefit?

A: First, the operator should estimate the amount of vapors that one can potentially generate from an oil and gas well site. Next, contact a vapor recovery unit compressor vendor to get a quote on a unit that could handle the estimated volume of vapors at site conditions. The vapor recovery units are usually available for either purchase or rent, depending on capital allocation choices. In choosing a vapor recovery unit vendor, it’s critical that their unit have a programmable logic controller that can control the compressor according to small changes in vapor pressure on site. Oil and gas operators should look for a vendor that includes a telemetry package on the compressor to ensure that the unit can be monitored in real time to ensure that the management of vapors on location is optimal.


Burkes, Paula. “Q&A With Paul Munding: Vapor Recovery Can Have Positive Impact on Wellhead Operators’ Business and Public Image.” NewsOK.com, NewsOK, 18 July 2018, newsok.com/article/5601665/qa-with-paul-munding-vapor-recovery-can-have-positive-impact-on-wellhead-operators-business-and-public-image.


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