March 1, 2013
A collaboration involving Utah’s Division of Air Quality (UDAQ), county governments in eastern Utah, researchers from Utah State University, and the Western Energy Alliance has produced the first study of wintertime ozone formation conditions and characteristics in the Uinta basin, according to a 20 February 2013 report in the Oil & Gas Journal.
Snow cover is a factor in Uinta Basin ozone formation.
Seth Lyman, USU’s Bingham Research Center executive director, said the report was significant because it is one of the first to examine wintertime ozone formation conditions and developed several significant findings. While summertime ozone formation in urban areas has been extensively examined, the same can’t be said for rural areas’ wintertime ozone formation, he indicated.
“Snow cover is a significant formation factor,” the report said. “First, since it reflects sunlight, it limits daytime heating of the earth’s surface, keeping air cool and promoting temperature inversions. Second, the total amount of solar radiation passing through the atmosphere and available to drive chemical reactions responsible for ozone formation is nearly doubled as the snow cover reflects the incoming sunlight.”
Analysis of historical weather data indicates that ozone formation conditions can occur on at least some days during half of each winter season in the Uinta basin, the report stated. Most of these are from sources within the basin and not transported from elsewhere, it said. Researchers found that Uinta basin oil and gas operations were responsible for 98-99% of the volatile organic compounds and 57-61% of the nitrogen oxides that were measured.
“The scientists were uncomfortable about making regulatory recommendations,” Lyman said. “We need to be very careful about NOx regulatory proposals. There also is new tribal minor source permitting programming beginning in 2014, where the only one that has existed so far was in the state.”
What this means to you
In the U.S. Mountain West snow covered valleys and basins are vulnerable to frequent winter temperature inversions that trap emissions of VOCs, NOx and PM close to ground level. With findings like those of this study, drilling activity in these areas could become more closely monitored.
MIRATECH can help
Contact MIRATECH to discuss your best options for engine compliance options for applications such as diesel gensets used in wellhead drilling and gas engine driven compressors.