Using innovative thinking and advanced technological interventions BP’s Noel Project - south of Dawson Creek - has significantly reduced both its carbon and ecological footprint.
The project has 140 wells, three compressor stations, 260 kilometres of pipelines and a 138 kV power line. With an 85 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and a 70 per cent reduction in surface land use, the Noel Project has set a new industry benchmark for responsible and balanced resource development.
Traditional well site design uses high pressure gas from the wellhead for emergency shutdown valves, pressure control valves and chemical injection pumps, annually for the Noel project this would have resulted 10,000 E3m3 of natural gas equivalent to 132 kT of carbon dioxide emmissions per year. The change implemented by the Noel project has the impact equivalent to removing 24,000 cars from the road every year.
Instead, BP is the first full field gas development in Canada to apply a solar photo-voltaic system. Solar electricity is generated on site and stored in batteries providing a permanent energy supply. The solar power is supplemented by a thermal electric generator that’s used as a backup when there is reduced sunlight for more than a week.
“Using this innovative design has resulted in near-zero emissions,” says Phil Aldis, Noel Project General Manager. “It also addressed concerns from our stakeholders about climate change, and has reduced odors because there is no methane vented to the atmosphere. Finally, this design improved the safety of the project,” he says.
BP further reduced GHG and air pollutants by powering its production facilities with electricity from the BC Hydro power grid, where 84 per cent of the power is hydro-generated.
“The Pembina Institute did a life cycle value analysis that endorsed using electricity instead of natural gas. We saw benefits that included opportunities for local contractors to build the 70 kilometre power line and right of way, improved worker safety and increased gas production,” Aldis says.
To conventionally produce the tight gas formation, 592 vertical wells would have been needed, but by drilling long reach open-hole horizontal wells in excess of 2,200 metres, the number of wells was reduced to just over 100. Furthermore, by drilling multiple wells on a single site, the number of well pads was decreased to 85, reducing the amount of land disturbed and enhancing economics. Fewer wells also addressed stakeholder concerns by reducing traffic, noise and visual impacts.
Instead of planning well-by-well and creating a spider web of access roads, pipelines and well sites, the Noel team planned to minimize environmental impact and keep the physical footprint as small as possible. Where feasible, existing linear disturbances were upgraded or paralleled with project roads, pipelines and power line infrastructure
To reduce potential impacts to the watershed and address concerns about trucking water from Dawson Creek, the Noel team built a sophisticated water storage system. Water pits collect spring run-off when surface water is abundant and this is supplemented with water pumped from underground aquifers.
BP has a reliable water supply year round with minimal impact to the watershed. A carefully paced drilling schedule further minimizes peak water demand. “All this innovative thinking has reduced our water withdrawal to an equivalent of 0.03 per cent of the watershed annual flow,” Aldis says.