The Emerald Award is an Alberta Foundation that presents awards to acknowledge groups, individuals, businesses, and organizations that are demonstrating environmental excellence in order to “protect, preserve, enhance and sustain our environment.” The Emerald Foundation helps to spread the word about climate change and how these institutions are reducing and/or offsetting Greenhouse Gas Emissions. There are many categories involved ranging from climate change to education about the environment.

In 2008, the County of Vermilion River won the award for Climate Change for our innovative gas pipelines. The heavy oil casing vent gas gathering project is where natural gas that is usually just wasted when vented into the atmosphere is gathered, processed, and mixed with other natural gas to then be used by customers. New oil wells were drilled by cooperating industry partners and they are then connected to our pipeline network to capture this vented gas. We are gathering enough ‘vent’ gas to fuel 7,500 homes year round, this correlates to 490,000 CO2E tonnes/year reduced greenhouse gas emissions. This project enables the life of allowing our non-renewable natural gas resource to be extended as well as improving air quality.

With the County having some of the biggest natural gas taps in Alberta these projects will also help the Gas Alberta pool pricing by eliminating transportation fees on gas volumes which would otherwise have been purchased by the County to service its customers.

The first of this project took place in the Frog Lake area, where in participation with Pan Canadian Petroleum the gas utility department researched many compressor units and dryers that would meet the requirements. The County of Vermilion River gas utility decided to do this project because of a common problem to Heavy Oil production – complaints about the high price of natural gas, and the release of large amounts of gas through vents daily.

With the cost of gas transport revenue dropping, as well as having a useable/sellable product that can heat so many homes, and also being great for the environment it is an obvious win-win-win situation   

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