Abstract The climate change agenda is to move from a trend of increasing green house gas (GHG) emissions to either holding emissions flat then reducing over the next few decades. By examining upstream projects early enough in the project lifecycle and using tools to assess energy usage over the field life of the project, reductions in GHG emissions can be achieved, which results in savings of operating costs and future carbon dioxide (CO2) trading costs. Several techniques and tools have been developed which, when applied at the correct stage of the project, can help to optimise energy intensity and CO2 emissions. These include workshops, forecasting software for GHG emissions and flowsheeting tools to evaluate various design configurations taking into account cost, reliability and project variables such as weight and space. Results show that by applying these tools early in the design life energy intensity can be significantly reduced, which results in lower operating costs for fuel and potential CO2 costs.

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