Seeking significant, sustainable, and nationwide reduction in pollution, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposes historic new methane mitigation measures specifically targeting the U.S. oil and gas (O&G) industry. The goals of EPA's proposed rules, issued on November 2, 2021, include:
• Achieving major health and climate benefits for the entire country
• Expanding and strengthening EPA methane emissions regulations for new and reconstructed O&G sources
• Requiring states to eliminate or minimize pollution from vast numbers of pre-existing O&G sources nationwide
• Encouraging innovative monitoring technologies and other leading-edge digital solutions for emissions detection and mitigation
Read on to learn more about newly proposed EPA methane emissions regulations impacting O&G, and how digitization tools offer cost-effective methane mitigation solutions.
Methane is a potent greenhouse gas responsible for approximately 33% of global warming from human-related activities. Within the first 20 years of emission into the atmosphere, 1 ton of methane has approximately 80 times more warming impact than 1 ton of carbon dioxide (CO2).
According to the EPA, O&G is the largest industrial source of methane emissions and is responsible for one-third of methane pollution in the U.S. Because methane is the main component of natural gas, methane mitigation in the O&G industry is EPA's new and most critical mission. The newly proposed EPA methane emissions regulations are aiming for the following targets:
• Reducing O&G methane emissions in 2030 alone to 74% lower than methane emissions of 2005
• Reducing 41 million tons of O&G methane emissions from 2023 to 2035 — equal to 920 million metric tons of CO2 or more than 2019's CO2 emissions from all U.S. passenger cars and commercial airplanes
• Yielding approximately $48 billion in climate benefits from 2023 to 2035 due to methane mitigation compliance — or roughly $4.5 billion annually in climate benefits
EPA-proposed methane mitigation measures apply to crude oil production and processing sources, such as onshore well sites, storage tank batteries, gathering and boosting compressor stations, and natural gas processing plants. Compressor stations and storage tank batteries are also part of natural gas transmission and storage sources.
Major components of the EPA's proposal include regulating emissions from intermittent vent pneumatic controllers for the first time and transitioning to zero-emitting technologies in the future. Eliminating venting or flaring of associated natural gas from oil wells, currently unregulated, can prevent an annual 40,000 tons of methane emissions (the 2019 record).
Methane leak detection and repair are other key components. Leak detection elements of the EPA's proposal include:
• Detecting and repairing methane leaks at new and existing well sites and compressor stations — focusing on monitoring sites and equipment most likely emitting large amounts of methane
• Encouraging innovation by using advanced measurement technologies to detect leaks at all well sites and compressor stations, even sources with under 3 tons of annual methane emissions
• Permitted detection tools include any advanced measurement technology capable of detecting at least 10kg/hr
Fully committed to O&G's digital transformation success, Aegex Technologies offers leading-edge digital solutions for methane mitigation across the full O&G value chain. Safe, convenient, and cost-effective emissions detection, asset maintenance, and work crew collaboration are a snap with Aegex digitization tools. These are purpose-built tools certified intrinsically safe for Zone 1 environments.
Using our customizable NexVu IoT sensors that broadcast to a full spectrum of enterprise-class apps on our aegex10 tablets ensures safety, real-time data-driven decision-making, and ultimately, methane mitigation success.
"By building on existing technologies and encouraging innovative new solutions," states EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan, "we are committed to a durable final rule that is anchored in science and the law, that protects communities living near oil and natural gas facilities, and that advances our nation’s climate goals under the Paris Agreement."
If your organization is seeking compliance with EPA methane emissions regulations, we can help. Contact us here for more information on our innovative and cost-effective digital tools and solutions for methane mitigation success.