Game-changing Aesseal invention could expand lifespans of oil and gas rigs

Flare system of the sea oil production platformFlare system of the sea oil production platform
Flare system of the sea oil production platform
A BREAKTHROUGH made by a Rotherham engineering company has been described as a “game changer” for the environment.

Mill Close-based AESSEAL has invented new technology that could extend the life of existing oil and gas rigs.

The product could solve the problem of environmentally destructive flaring and venting from oil and gas fields and help clean up energy production.

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EcoGuard seeks to eliminate or reduce intermittent and continuous emissions and could be retrofitted to oil and gas facilities across the world.

AESSEAL, which designs and manufactures sealing solutions for a sustainable future and is a technology leader in dry gas seals, has partnered with pump manufacturer Torishima UK to develop EcoGuard, which will be made in Glasgow.

Founder and group managing director of the global company Chris Rea said: “My interest is in the environment. AESSEAL does not make pumps and the EcoGuard technology does not use seals but I would like to turn off the industrial-scale Bunsen burners that are destroying the planet for my grandchildren. On a case specific basis, I will give our competitors a royalty-free licence as the environment needs all the help it can get.

“In Scotland, which has nearly 90 per cent of UK oil and gas production, more than one billion cubic metres of gas was flared in 2019, releasing 2.9 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent emissions – 21 per cent of the total.

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“Not only is this damaging, it is extremely wasteful. The gas flared off could have been used for heating and is the same as the total energy consumption of Glasgow, where EcoGuard will be produced at Torishima’s plant in the city.”

According to the North Sea Transition Authority, flaring is responsible for a fifth of UK offshore oil and gas production-related carbon dioxide emissions and one per cent of total UK annual CO2 emissions. Vented gas offshore represents about 0.15 per cent of UK greenhouse gas emissions, including around one per cent of total UK annual methane emissions.

The issue is high on the agenda at COP28 after the climate summit’s president called on oil and gas companies to “zero out” methane emissions, and the UK government has announced a ban on routine venting and flaring by 2030, though some industry leaders have voiced doubts over the timeframe.

EcoGuard is described as a small but powerful booster pump that transports gas around a rig’s compressor in a similar way to a central heating system circulating water around a house.

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The booster maintains the flow of gas during intermittent shutdowns, an established practice that removes the need for deliberate emissions to prevent contamination of the system. In the inventive step, the booster also keeps the seal clean to stop leakage throughout continuous operation.

The EcoGuard is at prototype testing stage and will be ready to market in early 2024, six years before the UK government deadline for the oil and gas industry.

AESSEAL invested in the product development as part of its 29by29 pledge to invest £29m by 2029 in projects primarily aimed at improving the environment.

Gerry Ashe, managing director of Torishima Europe, said: “EcoGuard could be a game changer and we are delighted to be partnering with AESSEAL on this innovative project.”