The B.C. Oil and Gas Methane Emissions Research Collaborative (MERC) has established a two-year plan to advance research on methane emissions from oil and gas activity. The joint initiative of industry, government, the regulator and non-profits supports B.C.’s methane emission reduction targets.
According to Pembina Institute, MERC’s 2019-2021 research plan will lead to recommendations on the design and implementation of key research deliverables necessary to meet methane reduction goals and to monitor the efficiency and effectiveness of B.C.’s methane regulations.
Bruce Ralston, Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources said “we’ve brought in new, stronger regulations to address fugitive and venting emissions, improve leak detection and repair, and enhance data management and reporting requirements.” He added “Advancing research on methane is critical to monitoring the effectiveness of BC’s regulations and ensuring the province meets our climate goals.”
The provincial and federal governments have goals for reducing methane emissions from upstream oil and gas operations. The Government of B.C. has a reduction goal of 45 per cent by 2025, relative to 2014 levels, while the Government of Canada has a reduction target of 40-45 per cent by 2025, relative to 2012 levels.
“Methane-reduction research is critical to hitting provincial reduction targets,” said Carlos Salas, Geoscience BC Executive VP and Chief Scientific Officer. “The ideas and resources shared by Methane Emissions Research Collaborative members results in innovative solutions and more effective use of resources.”
Salas adds that the plan fits well with Geoscience BC’s existing and future projects to discover new and practical ways to detect and cut methane emissions.
The BC Oil and Gas Commission, the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources, and the Climate Action Secretariat of the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy have developed methane emission regulations to meet the reduction targets, and to ensure they are equivalent to federal regulations.
The provincial regulations address the primary sources of methane emissions from B.C.’s upstream oil and gas industry, which are:
- Pneumatic devices, pumps, and compressor starters
- Equipment leaks
- Compressor seals
- Glycol dehydrators
- Storage tanks
- Surface casing vent flows
Methane is the main constituent of natural gas and has a 25 times greater global warming potential than carbon dioxide over a 100-year period. The oil and gas industry is estimated to produce approximately 17 per cent of total emissions in the provincial greenhouse gas inventory and is a large source of B.C. methane emissions.
“Canada’s oil and natural gas industry is continuously finding better ways to reduce methane emissions from operations and B.C. is a world leader in this regard,” said Terry Abel, CAPP Executive Vice-President, Canada Operations and Climate.
“In the very immediate-term, industry faces tough times due to the financial crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” added Abel. “However, we remain committed to meeting the longer-term emissions reduction targets by 2025 and developing new technologies is critical to this effort.”
Karen Tam Wu, B.C. Director at the Pembina Institute says her organization is pleased to partner with other stakeholders to advance the understanding of methane emissions from BC’s gas sector.
“Through this research, we hope to fill knowledge gaps, identify additional cost-effective opportunities to reduce methane emissions, and ensure regulations are effective at reducing these emissions.” She added “Minimizing methane emissions is critical for reducing carbon pollution from the gas sector and for achieving B.C.’s climate goals,”
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