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FLIR Systems has published a new paper that describes the substantial financial, operational and safety benefits that Jonah Energy (Sublette County, WY, USA) has achieved using FLIR GF320 Optical Gas Imaging Camera’s (OGI) to inspect its facilities for gas leaks.

The oil and gas industry is constantly faced with how to best find and repair natural gas leaks at potential escape points such as compressor stations, processing plants, hydraulically fractured wells, and along transportation lines.

The industry standard for leak detection and repair has long been the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Method 21 protocol, which relies on toxic vapour analysers (TVAs) to detect gas leaks. However the EPA is now planning to recommend optical gas imaging as an alternative to TVAs, calling it a Best System of Emission Reduction. This new FLIR paper discusses the experiences of Jonah Energy, in terms of plant safety and the return on their investment in OGI cameras, training, and use.

In the paper, Jonah Energy states that the main advantage of using the FLIR GF320 OGI camera is its ability to scan large areas remotely. This has helped its inspectors to safely pinpoint the source of fugitive emissions and begin the repair process immediately, making OGI inspections at least nine times faster than Method 21 surveys. The speed of OGI scans makes it easier for oil and gas producers to survey equipment more often. The EPA has noted that more frequent inspections and repairs can reduce fugitive methane and VOC emissions significantly e.g. quarterly surveys can cut emissions by 80 per cent, while semi-annual monitoring surveys and repairs can reduce emissions by 60 per cent.

Since the implementation of Jonah Energy’s Enhanced Direct Inspection and Maintenance Program in 2010 their engineers have conducted over 16,000 inspections and have repaired thousands of leaks identified by the FLIR cameras. As a consequence, Jonah Energy has reduced fugitive emissions by 75 per cent. It has also reduced repair time from 705 hours to 106, and cut labour costs from US$348,000 to US$20,500. Based upon a market value of natural gas of US$4 per million Btu, Jonah Energy estimate the gas savings from the repair of leaks identified exceeded the labour and material costs of repairing the identified leaks. Additionally, the company estimates that it has eliminated the emission of hundreds of tons of volatile organic compounds to the atmosphere.

FLIR Systems specialises in technologies that enhance perception and awareness.  The company brings innovative sensing solutions into daily life through its thermal imaging and visible light imaging technology and systems for measurement, diagnosis, location and advanced threat detection.  Its products improve the way people interact with the world around them, enhance productivity, increase energy efficiency and make the workplace safer.

FLIR Systems has six operating segments – surveillance, instruments, OEM and emerging markets, maritime, security and finally, detection. Of these six, ‘instruments’ is of greatest interest to trade and industry and the second largest segment in the company’s portfolio. This division provides devices that image, measure and assess thermal energy, gases and other environmental elements for industrial, commercial and scientific applications.

These products are manufactured across five production sites, three in the USA and two in Europe; Sweden and Estonia.

A model to suit every application and budget
The options that FLIR Systems provides for measuring temperature and studying thermal performance have never been greater.  Not only does the company offer a huge range of models to suit all thermal application needs but the technology is also affordable and very easy to use.  Thermal cameras now come in various shapes, sizes and degrees of sophistication and FLIR continues to invest heavily in the development of new and complementary technologies to differentiate itself from competitors.

An important milestone in the development of thermal imaging has been the introduction of the FLIR Lepton® core, a micro longwave detector, the size of a mobile SIM.  This has allowed thermal imaging to be repackaged to meet the needs of an even wider audience and, in combination with another new technology called Infrared Guided Measurement – IGM™ – has led to the development of a range of test and measurement meters with imaging capability.

Another important growth area for FLIR thermal imaging is in continuous monitoring to assure quality and safety.  Through its introduction of discrete fixed mounted thermal cameras which are fully compliant industry standard plug-and-play protocols, FLIR Systems has provided industry with infrared machine vision which is instantly ready for quick and easy network installation.

Protecting assets and people from fire is an area for which thermal imaging is least known but, thanks to FLIR Systems’ development, it is now one of the most cost-effective methods available.  Its application flexibility and rapid return on investment present an attractive proposition for any site or safety manager.

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