Refinery Flare Regulations
Flare systems are designed to provide for the safe disposal of hydrocarbons that are either automatically vented or manually drawn from process units at refineries. Hydrocarbons must be controlled in a safe and effective manner in the event of an operational upset. Flare systems gather vented gases and combust them to prevent release directly into the atmosphere.
Flare emissions are difficult to characterize and can be dependent on a number of factors such as volumetric flow, velocity, vent gas composition, energy content, combustion efficiency, and ambient wind conditions. 'Vent gas' is defined as any gas directed to a flare, excluding assisting air or steam, pilot or continuous purge gas. Vent gas flow rates to the flare are measured by in-pipe monitors prior to combustion. These vent gas flow rates do not represent a direct measurement of emissions from flares.
Two flare Regulations have been adopted by the District since 2003. The District Board of Directors adopted Regulation 12, Rule 11, Flare Monitoring at Petroleum Refineries, on June 4, 2003; Regulation 12, Rule 12, Flares at Petroleum Refineries, was adopted on July 20, 2005 and amended April 5, 2006.
The purpose of this rule is to reduce emissions from flares at petroleum refineries by mimimizing the frequency and magnitude of flaring.
Regulation 12, Rule 12 requires each refinery to submit a FMP Annual Update no more than 12 months following approval of the initial FMP, and annually thereafter. Each refinery's FMP Annual Update must include any new prevention measures identified as a result of an investigation into the cause of flaring events that have occurred since the previous FMP approval. Prevention measures identified must address flaring as a result of planned major maintenance, including startup and shutdown; flaring may be reasonably expected to occur due to issues of gas quantity or quality; and flaring caused by recurrent failure of air pollution control equipment, process equipment, or processes. The FMP Updates are a key mechanism in the ground-breaking Flare Regulation to ensure continuous improvement towards minimizing flaring from the five Bay Area refineries by reducing the frequency and magnitude of flaring.
The plan updates (with the exception of confidential information) are required to be made available to the public during a 30-day public review and comment period. A FMP Annual Update will be approved only after consideration of public comments, and if the District determines that all feasible prevention measures have been incorporated and, if not already undertaken, scheduled for expeditious implementation.
The purpose of this rule is to require monitoring and recording of emission data for flares at petroleum refineries. It requires operators of flares at petroleum refineries to monitor the gases directed to the flare and submit a monthly report containing: