Overview of the Multi-Sector Air Pollutants Regulations: part 2

Part 2 - Stationary Spark-Ignition Engines

Why is the government regulating industrial stationary spark-ignition engines?

The Multi-Sector Air Pollutants Regulations (MSAPR) put in place, for the first time, national limits on emissions of harmful pollutants by stationary spark-ignition engines (engines). In 2014, the engines covered by the MSAPR accounted for 40% of Canada’s total industrial nitrogen oxide (NOX) emissions. The MSAPR will lead to substantial emission reductions from these engines, with associated benefits to human health and the environment.


What is a stationary spark-ignition engine?

A stationary spark-ignition engine is an engine that, when used, does not move and is not in or on a machine that is self-propelled. It operates like a gasoline-fueled engine, using a spark plug or other sparking device to ignite the gas. The MSAPR do not cover liquid-fuel-fired engines, but only those that combust gaseous fuel. These engines are typically used for natural gas compression (such as maintaining well pressure or moving gas along pipelines), but can also be used for other purposes, such as providing power to back-up generators and pumps.


Which industrial facilities are covered by the Stationary Spark-Ignition Engine Part of the MSAPR?

The MSAPR apply to new (“modern”) engines operating in several industrial sectors:

  • aluminium and alumina
  • base metal smelting
  • cement
  • chemicals
  • fertilizers
  • electricity
  • iron ore pellets
  • iron, steel and ilmenite
  • natural gas transmission pipelines
  • oil sands
  • petroleum refining
  • potash
  • pulp and paper
  • upstream oil and gas

The MSAPR also applies to approximately 6,300 existing engines, with more than 95% of these engines located in the upstream oil and gas sector and the natural gas transmission pipeline sector. In the MSAPR, “oil and gas facilities” include only natural gas transmission pipeline and upstream oil and gas sectors, as well as related natural gas underground storage facilities, but not other facilities such as oil sands facilities or petroleum refineries. Other industrial sectors such as electricity, chemicals manufacturing, and pulp and paper also use engines in small numbers. Engines in residential, institutional or commercial facilities and those in other industrial sectors are not subject to the MSAPR.


What is a pre-existing/modern engine?

Pre-existing engines are those manufactured before September 15, 2016. To prove that an engine is pre-existing, a record that establishes the date of manufacture or proves that the engine was owned or operated on or before this date may be submitted. Modern engines are those not proven to be pre-existing.


What are the performance standards for engines?

The performance standards in the MSAPR are different for new (“modern”) and pre-existing engines. Although the requirements for new engines come into force upon registration of the Regulations, engines are not considered new unless they are manufactured on or after September 15, 2016. Requirements depend on whether the engine is regular-use or low-use, as per the table below.

Criteria Regular-Use Low-Use
Coverage 13 industrial facility types 13 industrial facility types
Size Threshold ≥ 75 kW ≥ 100 kW
NOX Limit 2.7 g/kWh output or 160 ppmvd at 15 percent oxygen 160 parts per million by volume, dry basis (ppmvd) at 15 percent oxygen

The standards for pre-existing engines only apply to regular-use engines. There are two compliance phases, starting in the years 2021 and 2026. Regulatees have the option to meet a performance standard on a per-engine basis (flat limit) or on a group basis (yearly average limit), as per the table below.

Criteria Flat Limit Yearly Average Limit
Coverage Oil and Gas Facilities (including upstream oil and gas and natural gas transmission pipelines) Oil and Gas Facilities (including upstream oil and gas and natural gas transmission pipelines)
Size Threshold ≥ 250 kW ≥ 250 kW
NOX Limit
2021 to 2025

Engines comprising 50% of total fleet power:

4 g/kWh output or 210 ppmvd at 15 percent oxygen

8 g/kWh output or 421 ppmvd at 15 percent oxygen
NOX Limit
2026 and Later

All engines:

4 g/kWh output or 210 ppmvd at 15 percent oxygen

4 g/kWh output or 210 ppmvd at 15 percent oxygen


How much will the MSAPR reduce emissions from engines?

The MSAPR will result in emission reductions across Canada; however most of the reductions from the engine requirements will be in Alberta and British Columbia. An uncontrolled engine of average size (600 kilowatts) can emit 24 g/kWh of NOX, equal to approximately 126 tonnes of NOX per year. Such an engine can emit as much NOX in one hour as a new light-duty vehicle would emit, on average, over 325,000 kilometres. If the NOX emissions of this same engine are reduced to 4 g/kWh, NOX emissions would be reduced by as much as 105 tonnes per year.

Between 2016 and 2035, it is estimated that the Regulations will reduce NOX emissions from engines by about 1,932 kt. The estimated value of the benefit to Canadians is $6.4 billion. In 2026, it is expected that the engines portion of the MSAPR will lead to a 40% reduction in the NOx emissions of the upstream oil and gas sector compared to 2014.


How do these performance standards compare to those in the U.S.?

The performance standards in the MSAPR for new (“modern”) are comparable to those in the U.S. EPA’s New Source Performance Standard for Stationary Spark Ignition Internal Combustion Engines adjusted for Canadian conditions such as weather and the location of engines.


How can industry comply with the requirements for engines?

There is a broad range of proven technologies and operational improvements that industry can use to reduce NOX emissions from engines. These include rich-to-lean engine management systems, three-way catalysts in conjunction with air-to-fuel ratio controllers, pre-combustion chambers and improvements to the ignition system. The estimated cost to industry to comply with the Regulations is $394 million, between 2016 and 2035.

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