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Alberta, Ottawa agree on methane reduction

by Mark Sabourin
EcoLog, 5/15/2020 1:40:00 PM

The Alberta government says it has reached a preliminary equivalency agreement on methane reduction with the federal government. Under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999, the federal government may strike an equivalency agreement with a province if provincial and federal standards on a matter of overlapping jurisdiction are equivalent. Typically, Ottawa backs off enforcing compliance with federal standards and accepts provincial enforcement of provincial standards as sufficient.

Earlier in 2020, Ottawa and British Columbia struck an equivalency agreement on methane reduction.

Tim McMillan, president and CEO, Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, called the preliminary agreement with Alberta “good news for Alberta’s oil and natural gas producers. . . The provincial framework supports a flexible, results-oriented approach to reducing emissions while stimulating technology and innovation essential to meeting our environmental performance goals at this critical time.” An analysis comparing Alberta and federal methane reduction standards published by the Pembina Institute and several other organizations in December 2018 labelled Alberta’s standards weak. The analysis found that federal standards would reduce emissions in 2025 by almost 36.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, while Alberta standards would cut them by only 22.19 million tonnes.

However, on May 12, 2020, the Alberta Energy Regulator amended its Directive 017: Measurement Requirements for Oil and Gas Operations, and Directive 060: Upstream Petroleum Industry Flaring, Incinerating, and Venting – two key directives dealing with flaring, venting and testing. Among other things, the amended directives lengthen the duration required to test gas production from 24 hours to 72 hours starting in 2023, and change vent gas limits for crude bitumen batteries, pneumatic devices, compressor seals, and glycol dehydrators beginning in 2022.

Alberta says its new approach is expected to reduce methane emissions by 45 per cent from 2014 levels by 2025, matching what would have been achieved under federal regulations, and surpassing them by 2030.

In a statement, the Pembina Institute says it is “looking forward to evaluating the improvements Alberta has made to its methane regulations as it seeks to achieve equivalency with the federal regulation.”

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