Air Emissions

Petro-Canada takes every reasonable measure to reduce the quantity of releases of specified substances. We refer to these as primary air pollutants (PAP), and they include total volatile organic compounds (VOCs), carbon monoxide (CO), oxides of nitrogen (NOx), sulphur dioxide (SO2) and total particulate matter (TPM) under 100 microns (µm). While the releases of pollutants are reported for air, land and water, approximately 95% of our pollutant releases are those made into the air.

The numbers in this report represent total emissions for all Petro-Canada operations and not just those amounts that are reportable under regulatory requirements. As such, the numbers here may not coincide with the total for all of our reportable emissions. We believe capturing and reporting on our total air footprint provides the organization with a more complete picture of our performance with respect to managing air pollutants than simply reporting on those facilities that reach a regulatory reporting threshold.

Supporting this, managing and reporting of air emissions have been enhanced by the development and implementation of the first phase of our environmental information management system (EIMS). This system is expected to provide greater reporting process efficiencies and consistency across the organization.

In 2008, the total volume of the five PAPs was 54 kilotonnes, compared with a total volume of 52.7 kilotonnes in 2007. The overall increase in PAPs for 2008 is primarily attributable to the significant start-up activities at the Edmonton Refinery following the completion of the Refinery Conversion Project during 2008 and a general increase in the sulphur content of the crude feed at the Edmonton Refinery.

Sulphur Dioxide EmissionsOxides of Nitrogen Emissions

Volatile Organic Compounds EmissionsCarbon Monoxide Emissions

Total Primary Air Pollutant Emissions

Primary Air Pollutants: Emissions by Type

The table below briefly outlines the makeup, percentages and sources of our primary air pollutants:

 
Sulphur dioxide (SO2)    
  • SO2 is a natural byproduct formed during the processing and combustion of fossil fuels. It is stripped out at refineries and gas plants to deliver clean products to consumers. Almost all of Petro-Canada’s SO2 is recovered, but some is released into the air from refineries, gas plants and offshore installations.
  • SO2 emissions were 14.2 kilotonnes in 2008, compared with 12.80 kilotonnes in 2007. The increase in SO2 is primarily due to an increase in the sulphur content of the crude feed at the Edmonton Refinery.
Oxides of nitrogen (NOX)
  • NOx is released from refineries, gas plants, offshore installations, our Oil Sands in situ plant and field compression equipment.
  • NOx emissions were 17.30 kilotonnes in 2008, compared with 17.20 kilotonnes in 2007. The slight increase can be attributed to increased upstream production, with several short maintenance turnarounds at our facilities.
Total volatile
organic
compounds (VOCs)
  • VOCs are released from our refineries, gas plants, offshore installations, Oil Sands in situ operations, field compression equipment and terminal operations in Canada. They are typically defined as products that react with sunlight and NOx to form ground-level ozone, which is considered harmful in excessive quantities. In Canada, carbonyl sulphide and carbon disulphide are included in the definition of VOCs.
  • VOCs were 12.40 kilotonnes in 2008, compared with 12.90 kilotonnes in 2007. The decrease was primarily due to a decrease in flaring at the Terra Nova FPSO through equipment modifications and improved procedures and flare management practices. The decrease in upstream VOC emissions was offset slightly by increased throughput at several Terminal facilities.
Carbon monoxide (CO)
  • CO is released into the air as a result of combustion. This combustion occurs at all our primary operating facilities from heaters, boilers, large combustion engines, flares and other sources.
  • CO releases were 9.5 kilotonnes in 2008, compared with 8.8 kilotonnes in 2007. The increase was primarily due to higher upstream compression and the addition of new fired heaters and the start-up of the Edmonton Refinery following the completion of the Refinery Conversion Project partway through 2008.
Total particulate matter (TPM)
  • Any source of combustion may emit some TPM. TPM emissions vary widely for fuel-oil combustion sources, depending on fuel grade and composition, combustor type and size, and load. TPM emissions from natural gas sources are assumed to be less than one micron.
  • TPM releases were 0.7 kilotonnes in 2008, compared with 1.0 kilotonnes in 2007. The decrease was primarily due to several short maintenance turnarounds at the Hanlan Robb Gas Plant and the Montreal Refinery and improved flaring management practices at the Terra Nova FPSO.
 

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