Proposed methane regulations: additional information
Natural gas is a valuable resource used by Canadians to heat their homes and power factories. It is composed almost entirely of methane, a colourless, odourless and flammable gas. Methane is considered toxic under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA) because it is a greenhouse gas (GHG) with a global warming potential 25 times greater than carbon dioxide (CO2) over a 100-year period.
Some natural gas extracted by the oil and gas industry is lost from leaks or from intentional releases for operational reasons. This loss is not only a waste of a valuable economic resource, but also contributes significantly to global warming and climate change, and to smog formation and other negative air quality impacts. Oil and gas facilities are Canada’s largest industrial emitters of methane, releasing 44% of Canada’s total methane emissions (figure 1). Oil and gas operations account for 26% of Canada’s total GHG emissions.
Description of Figure 1
Sector: Oil and Gas, 44%; Agriculture 26%; Other Industries 22%; Electricity 6%; Transportation 2%; Waste and Others 0%; and Commercial and Residential 0%.
Methane releases from the upstream oil and gas sector come from normal operation of process equipment, unintentionally from leaks (e.g. in piping), or intentionally (e.g. from vents on tanks) (figure 2).
There are many cost-effective opportunities for the upstream oil and gas sector to avoid this loss of valuable natural gas. These options include gas capture, clean combustion and emission surveys to find leaks so they can be repaired.
Addressing methane emissions is the lowest-cost greenhouse gas emissions reduction opportunity in the oil and gas sector due to the value of gas that will be conserved by the proposed measures, and the fact that many of the measures represent sound operational practices, some of which industry already follows to varying degrees.
Description of Figure 2
Left: Intentional venting of natural gas (mostly methane) from a storage tank visible with an infrared emission detection camera.
Middle: emissions are not visible without an infrared camera.
Right: natural gas being vented from a well - visible with an infrared camera.
In order to reduce the amount of methane released into the air from Canada’s upstream oil and gas sector, Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) is proposing regulations that would require methane emission control measures to be implemented. Addressing methane emissions has a co-benefit of also reducing the amount of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) released into the air, as VOCs are also found with methane in the natural gas. VOCs are known to have adverse health effects and contribute to smog formation. The proposed methane regulations include flexibilities to allow for industry to meet the requirements to reduce methane and VOC emissions.
The proposed regulations have been designed so that, in general, only facilities handling significant volumes of gas need to comply with the requirements. The proposed methane regulations cover five key methane emission sources in the upstream oil and gas sector. Detailed information regarding these requirements can be seen in Table 1 below.
|Key Methane Emission Source||Proposed Requirement||Coverage||Proposed Flexibility||Proposed Date of Implementation|
|Fugitive Equipment Leaks||
||January 1, 2020|
|Facility Production Venting||
||Larger facilities||Permission to vent in case of an emergency||January 1, 2023|
||Larger facilities and larger pumping rates||
||January 1, 2023|
||All existing compressors at oil and gas facilities must meet emissions limit and all new compressors must conserve emissions.||No measurement where emissions are conserved or destroyed||January 1, 2020|
|Well completions by hydraulic fracturing3||
||Fractured wells with high gas-to-oil rations||Exemption for well completions in Alberta and British Columbia||January 1, 2020|
1 Pneumatic devices are automated instruments for maintaining a process condition, including liquid level, pressure difference and temperature.
2 Compressors are mechanical device that increases the pressure of natural gas to allow it to be transported, e.g. through a pipeline.
3 Hydraulic fracturing is the process of injecting fluids, or fluids mixed with solids, under pressure into a well in order to create fractures from which hydrocarbons can migrate toward the well.
How to provide comments
Please provide your comments on the proposed methane regulations in writing to email@example.com by July 26, 2017.
Energy and Transportation Directorate
Environment and Climate Change Canada
351 Saint-Joseph Boulevard
Gatineau, QC K1A 0H3
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
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