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Shell Groundbirch using new technology in Northeast B.C. to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

A photo of the new electric actuators being used by Shell Groundbirch in its new multi-well pad design. Supplied photo
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FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – Shell Canada’s Groundbirch division says it has begun using new technology to reduce its carbon footprint in Northeast B.C.

In January, the company said that brought its first new multi-well pad design online, which uses electric valve actuators as opposed to pneumatic ones. Shell Groundbirch project delivery and construction specialist Jason McGillivray, who has a background in forest products, explained that an actuator is a mechanism which opens and closes valves. The pneumatic version uses process gas from the well as a power source and as the actuator cycles; the compressed gas used to do the work is vented to the atmosphere. The electric actuator is driven by electric power, thus eliminating the methane emission source.

McGillivray says that the new Gen 4 pad design not only greatly reduces fugitive methane emissions, but the design is also expected to increase production capacity by 40 percent and decrease costs by 15 percent.

“Our team is lucky to be part of an organization with a strong culture of continuous improvement and we’re always looking to do things better,” said McGillivray. “Even though it goes above and beyond regulatory requirements, we collectively agreed that it is the right thing to do in this situation in terms of our role in providing cleaner energy to Canada and the world.”

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Shell says that changing the actuators to reduce methane emissions didn’t have a negative impact on production. When it came on stream in mid-January, the first new well pad was ranked number one in the province for top gas rates for initial well production in January according to a report by Alta Corp Capital.

“Based on its success, electric actuators will be used on new well pads in Groundbirch going forward, and we’ll share our knowledge with other Shell assets for potential replication,” added McGillivray.

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