Canadian Fuels Association members produce, distribute and sell the transportation fuels that support the mobility of all Canadians. At all stages in the process that brings fuels to the point of sale, our members are achieving impressive goals for community involvement, innovation and environmental performance. In this issue of Perspectives, we talk to three individuals who make a difference.

Driving environmental change

Brian Fairley moves forward boldly on multiple fronts.

A 34-year veteran in the refinery business, Brian Fairley understands the importance of technology and well-managed operations as drivers of environmental change.

Fairley’s career in the industry is long and successful. It has taken him to multiple locations across North America—Ontario, Nova Scotia, Texas and Alberta, to name a few—and exposed him to valuable learning across diverse roles. The result is that Fairley has gained a unique appreciation for what has changed environmentally in the business since the mid-1980s—and for how those changes have come about.

“In any environmental endeavour, we have to be practical and visionary,” he says. “We take a look at where we are in our operations from an energy efficiency perspective and then look at how we can be a leader.”

Fairley says moving forward boldly on the environmental front is not just about measuring how much energy a refinery operation is using; it’s also about whether every piece of equipment is running as efficiently as it possibly can. “You need to ask: Are you putting the right investments in to sustain reliable operations and continually improve your efficiency?”

As a case in point of maximizing efficiency, Fairley describes a cogeneration plant that Imperial installed at its Sarnia, Ontario refinery in the early 2000s. The installation uses state-of-the-art technology to generate electrical power in-house, producing about 80 megawatts daily. That takes care of about 80 percent of the site’s electricity needs. The plant also produces high-pressure steam that the site uses to replace the output of energy-intensive boilers, which are less efficient to run.

Other projects that have improved performance in Sarnia include the installation of a tail-gas clean-up unit to reduce sulphur dioxide emissions and the elimination of coke burning. Imperial’s Sarnia site has also reduced its nitrogen oxide emissions by 13 percent since 2009, partly by using cleaner fuels.

“It’s about investing in the right technologies at the right times,” says Fairley, who became Imperial’s Sarnia Refinery Manager in 2012.

“In any environmental endeavour we have to be practical and visionary.”