Update on Path Forward for Oil and Gas Sector Methane Mitigation
The Government of Canada supports the Global Methane Pledge to reduce global methane emissions by 30% below 2020 levels by 2030. Faster and Further – Canada’s Methane Strategy commits the Government to reduce methane emissions across the broader Canadian economy, including by setting new requirements for the oil and gas sector to achieve methane emission reductions of at least 75% by 2030 from 2012 levels. These requirements would build on the 2018 federal Regulations Respecting Reduction in the Release of Methane and Certain Volatile Organic Compounds (Upstream Oil and Gas Sector), which are designed to help reduce the sector’s methane emissions by 40 to 45 percent from 2012 levels by 2025.
In March 2022, Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) launched public consultations through a discussion paper to inform the path forward for achieving deeper methane reductions from Canada’s oil and gas sector. In November 2022, ECCC then published a regulatory framework, which served as the basis for extensive consultations.
ECCC received over 80 written submissions and held multiple consultation sessions, including bilateral meetings with provinces, Indigenous groups, the oil and gas companies, methane abatement companies, academics, and NGOs.
What we heard
- The target of at least 75% can be achieved. The Governments of British Columbia and Alberta have adopted similar targets. Some Canadian oil and gas companies have set corporate goals of eliminating methane emissions by 2030.
- Methane reduction requirements need to continue to integrate safety considerations, such as provisions for reacting to unplanned events, and to recognize the integrity of the natural gas delivery system for home heating and industrial feedstocks.
- Requirements should take a risk-based approach to leak detection and repair.
- The distribution of natural gas in Canada’s municipal areas warrants special consideration given the non-industrial setting, which is governed through an existing multi-layer regulatory system.
In response to this feedback, Environment and Climate Change Canada recognizes that it is not sufficient to only regulate methane emission sources from onshore upstream (exploration and production) and midstream (transmission) sources as is currently reflected in the 2018 regulations, and is considering enhancing oil and gas sector methane reductions through a number of measures.
1 – Amendments to the 2018 methane regulations
As outlined in the 2022 discussion paper, methane emissions from onshore upstream (exploration and production) and midstream (transmission) sources can be addressed by revisions to the 2018 regulations. It will be critical to address emissions from a wider set of these sources, eliminate exclusions, and drive as many individual sources as possible toward zero emissions.
The feedback to the regulatory framework also emphasized the importance of requirements for active control of venting and flaring other than for safety and emergency purposes; comprehensive inspections for facilities according to risk profiles, with more frequent schedules for specific equipment that is more likely to cause emissions; supplemented by independent surveys.
Stakeholders also expressed considerable interest in the possibility of a less technology-prescriptive option that would enable reliance on detection technology to demonstrate that sites are preventing emissions. A less technology and activity prescriptive approach could allow for industry innovation to demonstrate that sites are preventing emissions.
2 – Offshore Framework Regulations
Methane emission requirements for the offshore sector have been proposed for inclusion in the forthcoming Offshore Framework Regulations. These are being developed as part of The Frontier and Offshore Regulatory Renewal Initiative (FORRI), a federal-provincial partnership working to modernize the regulatory framework for frontier and offshore oil and gas activities.
3 –Multi-Sector Air Pollutant Regulations for Stationary Engines
The Multi-Sector Air Pollutants Regulations (MSAPR) set emission standards for nitrogen oxides (NOx) from stationary engines, including for engines at oil and gas facilities. Considering the integrated design and operational interventions needed to control both NOx and methane emissions from these engines, ECCC is considering adding methane emission requirements to the MSAPR to address methane emissions from these engines.
ECCC intends to publish draft amendments to the 2018 regulations in the coming months.
Further details about the other measures outlined above will follow.
Continued collaboration with provincial governments and their regulators, Indigenous partners, industry, and other stakeholders is essential to ensure that the overall approach achieves the best result possible in terms of methane reductions.
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