Inspiring innovation in fugitive emissions technology

After 34 years of experience in the energy industry, Tim Goedeker, Senior Principal Environmental Consultant for Phillips 66, knows the value of experience and the importance of innovation. Starting his career as a Technical Service Engineer in the oil refining sector and moving into the environmental side with HSE-Refining, Goedeker has a vast knowledge and understanding of this ever evolving industry. By Angelica Pajkovic and Sarah Bradley
There is no such thing as a typical workday for Goedeker. In addition to being part of Phillips 66’s corporate Health, Safety & Environmental organization (HSE), which supports the refining business unit, Goedeker works with the refining environmental leadership team to ensure permit standards are upheld and satisfied. A standard day can therefore vary drastically depending on the organization’s current needs.

To begin his day, Goedeker spends time reviewing the organization’s ongoing operations. This entails making sure that all the sites are in compliance with their environmental operating limits as well as following the proper steps to investigate and develop corrective actions, if an environmental non-compliance issue should arise. Goedeker also spends a part of his day assisting the refineries in implementing new United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) rules. More specifically, Goedeker will monitor the progress of implementation at the various sites, as well as answer questions, share lessons learned from industry peers and provide clarification about newly approved rules.

“That is one of my biggest responsibilities, working with the sites,” Goedeker explains. “We have 11 refineries in the U.S. and one in the U.K. I work with all of the environmental leads and their teams to ensure all are stewarding to improve our practices and processes, and we are complying with ever-increasing regulations.”

Engaging with Subject Matter Experts (SME) monthly by teleconference is another important part of Goedeker’s role. As there are approximately eight internal networks which touch on most environmental aspects at each site, leading a number of SMEs to discuss the best practices, reflect on past incidents and near misses and create a flow of knowledge across sites, is an essential daily task. “We are not perfect,” Goedeker states, “but what keeps me excited about this role is that we strive to continuously improve. This is seen by the year to year improvements we have seen in the last decade. We must continue thinking outside the box and auditing the improvements we have made in order to sustain them. This is how we ensure lessons learned are maintained through transition periods from one engineer to the next. Our goal is best in class environmental performance.”

Humble beginnings

With a degree in chemical engineering and first experience in the oil refining industry, Goedeker’s background differs from most traditional environmental professionals. Having entered the industry fresh out of college, Goedeker was impressed by the dynamic type of work that was taking place. As an engineer he was excited by the challenge of continually producing fuels in a cost effective manner while achieving more yield. 

“I thought turning asphalt it into a diesel-type material was pretty cool,” Goedeker explains. When the USEPA implemented restrictions on the sulphur content in gasoline and diesel, Goedeker gained an entirely new perspective for his work. Engineers, such as himself, now faced the challenge of meeting a new set of requirements. “It was exciting as an engineer to work with process technology vendors to come up with cost effective tactics to reduce the sulphur in motor fuel without losing the value of our products,” says Goedeker.

The challenge of containing fugitive emissions

As someone heavily involved in the refining industry, Goedeker provides valuable insight into some of the challenges the industry faces in managing fugitive emissions and their impact on the environment.
One of the areas he discusses, in detail, is the impact continual reduction in allowable fugitives limits have on a valve’s effectiveness to contain emissions. While most valves meet the current requirements, those requirements are being reduced. Goedeker explains that, as fugitive emission limits are lowered the quality of valve and packing technology will ultimately have to improve. 

Although currently, these standards are only applied to specific valve types, Goedeker suggests that once the technology evolves to get a lower leak rate on traditional gate and globe valves, the expectations will extend to regulators and other components, so fugitives can be reduced in those areas as well.

The necessity of networking 

Early on in his career, Goedeker realized that he had a passion for working with individuals from a variety of different sectors in the industry. The most rewarding aspect of his job, Goedeker says, is working with the ~100 environmental professionals across all of Phillips 66 refineries. While he does not know all the new faces, he says he is on a first name basis with the majority of them. The ability to interface with such a dynamic group of professionals provides him with the opportunity to not only collaborate and work together on new ideas, but to learn from their unique perspectives.

Goedeker believes that building and maintaining good relationships is extremely important in business and networking. The relationships that develop through mentoring and ongoing interactions with a variety of industry professionals is paramount to the successful progression of reducing fugitive emissions. For Goedeker, events such as the Valve World Americas conference, are therefore very important. “We do not have enough time in our workday to network and talk to people face-to face, so continuing the yearly summit is important. At the summit we have time to get to meet our peers and talk about what is going on and potentially learn something new. We must continue to have these types of conferences to spur on new ideas and innovation.”

Inspiring innovation at Valve World Americas

Going in as Chairman of Valve World Americas 2019, Goedeker had hopes to provide attendees with the opportunity to get excited about valve technology. “A valve is not just there to open and close, or start and stop, process material. There are leaks and emissions that come from these components, and I believe it is important for environmental professionals to be exposed to the present technology,” Goedeker states. “With a higher level of understanding, more individuals will be able to effectively work towards reducing the overall fugitive emission footprint.” 

He believes that the event is the ideal venue for individuals to come together and see what else can be accomplished in the valve community. “These conferences help us to work on expanding and realizing the value of others’ experience while providing a venue of support for everyone to continue pushing towards a common goal.”


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