The European Commission has issued an exemption for ConocoPhillips to use the R22 until July 2016

UK – In European law, the use of R22 products for cleaning and maintenance of equipment is prohibited from 1 January 2015. However, the British authorities have agreed to support a request from the company ConocoPhillips to use the R22 until the summer of 2016.

R22 products will be used by the company at the gas treatment plant located in Theddlethorpe in Lincolnshire. By this derogation, 35.1 tons of R22 can be used prior to July 2016.

What are the arguments that allowed ConocoPhillips to obtain this exemption? And what are the commitments made by the company to replace R22 with another product?

The arguments presented by ConocoPhillips
The majority of petrochemical industries currently employ large amounts of R22 – gas commonly used in refrigeration systems for shops – a refrigerant whose use will be prohibited by the European Commission from January 2015.

However, with the arguments advanced by the leaders of the company and ConocoPhillips with UK government support, the plant of the company has been granted a moratorium until July 2016. The developed arguments boil down to two points:
• The viability of the R22 replacement solution will be possible in June 2016.
• The significant socio-economic consequences on interruption of this gas production unit.

Commitments for the replacement of R22
Hydrocarbons are the products that can replace R22. However, this option necessarily requires the establishment of a new facility.
ConocoPhillips began a policy of selecting a replacement for its refrigeration system R22 in June 2007. However, it was only in 2012 that the identification of another refrigeration system was possible. This new system is based on the use of propane. However, it takes time to test the system before moving on to final use. Also, before the new refrigeration system by propane can be introduced, some measures must be taken. These are:
• The renewal of compression facilities.
• The change in the former heat exchanger with new ones.
• The replacement of storage units.
• The renewal of surveillance and security systems.

With this exemption, ConocoPhillips is required to develop and implement an enhanced program to reduce any leaks at its Lincolnshire site. It must also ensure that the remaining amount of R22 at the end of the derogation will be recovered for destruction or subsequent export.