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Revolutionizing Fugitive Emission Control: The Oxford Flow’s Innovative ES Valve


12 July 2023

Barron Sawyer

industrial plant emissions smoke

In 2019, the International Energy Agency stated that methane emissions, primarily from inadvertent leaks of gases or vapours from pressurized equipment within oil and gas operations, amounted to a staggering 82 million metric tons. 

Unfortunately, the task of pinpointing these so-called “fugitive” emissions has often been overlooked. However, in the wake of the US-led Global Methane Pledge launched at COP26, the significance of mitigating fugitive emissions has been brought into sharper focus. 

Fugitive emission reduction is now a top-tier goal for virtually every process plant and facility worldwide, prompted by stricter government regulations, code enforcement, and the growing importance of corporate environmental, social, and governance (ESG) initiatives. Yet, achieving this within constrained operating and capital budgets poses a significant challenge. In many cases, an innovative approach to valve technology can have a profound impact on both fugitive emissions and the equipment’s life cycle costs.

A multitude of factors within the production process can lead to fugitive emissions, with valves being a chief culprit. Considering that a single processing facility can contain anywhere from 8,000 to 25,000 valves, the potential for substantial methane emissions from valves alone is immense. As such, upstream and downstream operators face an escalating need to tackle this issue. To do so effectively, understanding the sources of these emissions is crucial.

In response to fugitive emission challenges, it’s time for end users to shift from the routine response of heightened monitoring and repair, to scrutinize valve design. Alternate designs exist that not only can resolve emission issues but also decrease operational costs.

Increasingly, plant personnel are evaluating the feasibility of upgrading those valves that provide the best return on investment, taking into account factors such as thermal cycling, frequency of cycling, compliance-related critical valves, lethal or corrosive service applications, and considerations of accessibility such as remote or hazardous locations.

The Imperative for Enhanced Valve Technology

Until now, the valve industry has largely offered incremental “iterative” improvements to conventional valve design. However, these enhancements fall short as most leaks and failures occur at the dynamic stem-seal interface of traditional control valves. This has left operators trapped in a costly cycle, spending millions on maintenance to manage leaks that have already exacerbated safety risks or environmental damage.

Oxford Flow’s groundbreaking ES stemless actuated valves brings a game-changing solution to the oil and gas industry, pioneering a method to prevent fugitive methane emissions. The genius of this technology lies in its simplicity. By significantly reducing active components and eliminating the stem and mechanical drive train, all leakage pathways to the atmosphere have effectively been removed.

The ES axial flow valve, with its integrated hydraulic piston exceeds industry standards. Its unique design eliminates fugitive emissions and provides operators with a valve package that is half the size and weight of conventional valves. This translates into substantial savings on maintenance costs.

30% Reduction in Maintenance Costs: The Future of Valve Technology

Despite spending millions annually on integrity inspections and preventative maintenance plans, operators often find these efforts inadequate in preventing fugitive emissions. The ES axial flow valve’s innovative design dramatically benefits operations with numerous critical control valves and operators with aging assets. This design substantially reduces the need for continuous maintenance.

By opting for the ES valve over traditional ones, operators can divert valuable resources from tracking fugitive emissions from a significant portion of their valves. Furthermore, the demand for extensive maintenance procedures decreases as drivetrain-related failures are eliminated and stem repacking maintenance becomes obsolete. This can lead to a 20-30% reduction in ownership costs and double the mechanical lifespan of the valve.

Every year, hundreds of thousands of valves in both onshore and offshore oil and gas infrastructures leak fugitive emissions, presenting operators with a formidable challenge in identifying and mitigating these leaks.

The ES valve, however, offers a comprehensive solution. Taking into account the reduced costs, weight, and size, as well as enhanced availability, reliability, and performance, and decreased maintenance, the case for its use in retrofitting and new installations is compelling. Most importantly, its capacity to completely eradicate fugitive emissions is transformative-by-design.

ES stemless actuated valves key benefits

  • No leaks or emissions
  • No stem
  • No mechanical drive train
  • No huge actuator
  • Compact size
  • Controlled by a hydraulic power pack
  • Negligible maintenance requirements