On May 25, 2017, Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, announced regulations to reduce methane emissions and air pollution from Canada's oil and gas sector.
"These regulations will help producers save over $1.5 billion worth of natural gas between 2018 and 2035, stated McKenna. "By better detecting and patching leaks, companies will be able to save and sell that natural gas and do their part to fight climate change. And this will support more modern technology and good new jobs in the oil and gas sector. Our government knows that, through innovation and technology, we can reduce emissions while improving the health of Canadians."
In 2014, 44% of Canada's total methane emissions were from oil and gas operations. Methane emissions in industry could be the result of leaks from compressors, pumps and pipelines or vented from oil and gas wells and petroleum storage tanks. McKenna indicated improving equipment and changing industry practices is the lowest-cost way to reduce emissions, and is easier than cutting carbon dioxide emissions.
The regulations would apply to oil and gas facilities handling at least 2.1million cubic feet per year of methane.
Emissions are targeted from five main areas:
- Fugitive equipment leaks. Upstream oil and gas facilities, except single wellheads, would be required to implement leak detection and repair (LDAR) programs by January, 2020. Regular inspections three times a year would be required, and corrective action if leaks were discovered.
- Well completions by hydraulic fracturing. Venting of gases would no longer be allowed by January, 2020. The standard would not apply to British Columbia or Alberta, where provincial measures cover these activities.
- Compressors. Measurement of the flow rate of methane emissions would be required from sealing systems at least once per year as of January, 2020. Corrective action would be required if those emissions exceed 0.81 cu. ft/min for reciprocating compressors and 6 cu. ft/min for centrifugal compressors. All newly installed compressors would be required to capture gas from sealing systems.
- Facility production venting. Upstream oil and gas facilities would be required to limit vented volumes of methane to 8830 cu. ft/month as of Jan. 1, 2023. These facilities would need to capture the gas and either use it onsite, reinject it underground, send it to a sales pipeline, or route it to a flare. Facilities that vent less than 1.4 million cubic feet (mcf)/year without destroying or selling any gas would not be required to destroy or conserve the gas.
- Pneumatic devices. Controllers with a total compressor power rating of at least 745 kw would be prohibited from emitting methane as of Jan. 1, 2023. Other facilities would be required to use low-emitting pneumatic controllers. Pumps would be prohibited from emitting methane or be equipped with an emissions-control device at facilities where liquid pumping exceeds 4.4 gal/day of liquid as of Jan. 1, 2023. Permits for pneumatic pumps would be available when it is technically or economically infeasible for a facility to comply.