Alberta and Saskatchewan have concluded equivalency agreements with the federal government under which Ottawa will stand down enforcement of its Reduction in the Release of Methane and Certain Volatile Organic Compounds (Upstream Oil and Gas Sector) Regulations (SOR/2018-66) in the two provinces in deference to provincial regulations.
The federal Reduction in the Release of Methane and Certain Volatile Organic Compounds (Upstream Oil and Gas Sector) Regulations took effect January 1, 2020, but the federal government deferred enforcement while negotiations with Alberta and Saskatchewan were underway. In Alberta’s case, Ottawa was pressing the province to tighten several requirements that it believed fell well short of the federal regulation.
Alberta relented in May 2020, when 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. Shortly thereafter, Alberta and Ottawa announced they had reached a preliminary agreement.
Ottawa, alongside Mexico and the United States, has committed to reduce methane emissions 40% to 45% below the 2012 baseline level by 2025. In a September 2020 briefing, the Pembina Institute used the federal government’s own figures to show that the federal Reduction in the Release of Methane and Certain Volatile Organic Compounds (Upstream Oil and Gas Sector) Regulations would cut emissions only by 29%. Provincial regulations in British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan are no stronger, according to the Pembina Institute, and will not help close that gap.
Among other things, the Pembina Institute recommends that the equivalency agreements explicitly state that the agreements must be renegotiated if the federal regulation is changed. Language to that effect is not part of the current agreements with British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan.