Baker & O'Brien, Inc.

Case Studies

Case Studies details

Refinery Flaring – More than Just about Safety

Litigation, North America

January 1, 2020

The processing of crude oil within a petroleum refinery is a complex operation that involves equipment operating at a range of pressures and temperatures, which the refiner must safely manage to avoid an uncontrolled release to the environment.  Flare systems play a key role in this process as important safety
devices used in petroleum refineries.  Excess hydrocarbon gases are combusted in the flare systems in a more environmentally-sound manner than the alternative of releasing the vapor directly into the atmosphere.   However, one group of residents living near one U.S. refinery had an entirely different view of  flares and filed a lawsuit against its neighboring refinery regarding several flaring events and their associated emissions.

Baker & O’Brien was retained to opine on:  (1) the refinery operating practices and procedures associated with the specified flaring events; and (2) the related refinery operating, training, and maintenance practices to determine if they were consistent with industry practices and government regulations.  In order to complete our assessment, we reviewed each of the incidents in detail to understand its cause(s), whether the refinery personnel acted to minimize flare emission impacts to the community, and whether they followed their own written procedures. 

Following the development of an expert report and deposition testimony, the matter was settled.