Re­port: Cana­dian oil and gas op­er­a­tors have am­ple op­por­tu­nity to re­duce meth­ane emis­sions

The McLeod River Post - - The Patch - Spe­cial to the Post

Many Cost-Ef­fec­tive Mea­sures in Hand for Canada to Achieve Sig­nif­i­cant Cli­mate Change Im­prove­ments, Ac­cord­ing to EDF and Pem­bina In­sti­tute

An in­de­pen­dent anal­y­sis con­ducted by ICF In­ter­na­tional (ICF), a lead­ing en­ergy industry re­search firm, es­ti­mates that emis­sions of the po­tent green­house gas meth­ane from the Cana­dian oil and gas sec­tor can be re­duced by 45 per cent be­low pro­jected 2020 lev­els, all while us­ing ex­ist­ing tech­nolo­gies. The re­search was com­mis­sioned by En­vi­ron­men­tal De­fense Fund (EDF), a lead­ing in­ter­na­tional en­vi­ron­men­tal non­profit. EDF part­nered with the Pem­bina In­sti­tute, Canada’s lead­ing clean en­ergy think tank, on the de­vel­op­ment of the project and dis­sem­i­na­tion of the ICF re­port.

Canada’s oil and gas sec­tor is the largest source of meth­ane emis­sions. ICF re­ported a sig­nif­i­cant op­por­tu­nity to re­duce meth­ane emit­ted from mul­ti­ple sources in Canada’s oi­land-gas rich prov­inces, span­ning from drilling to de­liv­ery. Achiev­ing this 45 per cent re­duc­tion across Canada would al­low for the re­cov­ery and po­ten­tial sale of oth­er­wise lost nat­u­ral gas and would be the equiv­a­lent of elim­i­nat­ing 27 mil­lion met­ric tonnes of car­bon diox­ide emis­sions. At a low cost of C$2.76 per met­ric tonne of CO2, this re­duc­tion would pro­vide the same im­me­di­ate cli­mate ben­e­fit as tak­ing ev­ery pas­sen­ger car off the road in Bri­tish Columbia and Al­berta ac­cord­ing to data from Statis­tics Canada and Canada’s Na­tional In­ven­tory Re­port.

Al­berta and Bri­tish Columbia are the coun­try’s main oil-andgas pro­duc­ing re­gions, re­spon­si­ble for nearly 70 per cent of Canada’s to­tal meth­ane emis­sions. ICF an­a­lyzed the re­duc­tion op­por­tu­nity in each, con­clud­ing that up­stream meth­ane emis­sions in Al­berta could be re­duced by 45 per cent for C$2.57 per met­ric tonne of CO2 and in Bri­tish Columbia by 37 per cent for C$1.69 per met­ric tonne of CO2. All told, the C$726 mil­lion ini­tial in­vest­ment to achieve Canada’s 45 per cent re­duc­tion from oil and gas rep­re­sents about 1 per cent of industry’s an­nual cap­i­tal ex­pen­di­ture, ac­cord­ing to Oil and Gas Jour­nal data, or costs less than one cent per Mcf of gas pro­duced.

“Curb­ing highly po­tent meth­ane emis­sions of­fers a huge, un­tapped op­por­tu­nity to bet­ter pro­tect the cli­mate now,” said Drew Nel­son, Se­nior Man­ager, En­vi­ron­men­tal De­fense Fund. “ICF’s new re­port con­firms that Canada can gain sub­stan­tial green­house gas re­duc­tions us­ing sim­ple, cost-ef­fec­tive so­lu­tions to con­trol meth­ane emis­sions. Even dur­ing th­ese chal­leng­ing eco­nomic con­di­tions, meth­ane re­duc­tions are one of the low­est-cost, high­est-value ways to tackle cli­mate change in the en­ergy busi­ness to­day.”

“This anal­y­sis clearly demon­strates that con­trol­ling meth­ane emis­sions is an im­por­tant op­por­tu­nity to cost-ef­fec­tively con­trib­ute to meet­ing our cli­mate change ob­jec­tives,” said Chris Sev­er­son-Baker, Al­berta Di­rec­tor, Pem­bina In­sti­tute. “With both Al­berta and B.C. in the process of up­dat­ing their cli­mate plans, now is the per­fect time to im­ple­ment rules that re­quire meth­ane emis­sions to be re­duced sig­nif­i­cantly.”

“When meth­ane leaks from oil and gas fa­cil­i­ties, op­er­a­tional ef­fi­ciency can suf­fer,” said Mike Shorts, Pres­i­dent of the Fluid Seal­ing As­so­ci­a­tion, a mem­ber­ship group of com­pa­nies in the meth­ane mit­i­ga­tion sec­tor, and Vice Pres­i­dent and Gen­eral Man­ager of Tri­an­gle Fluid Con­trols, a seal­ing prod­uct man­u­fac­turer based in Belleville, On­tario. “This re­port out­lines the clear op­por­tu­nity Cana­dian oil and gas com­pa­nies have to pre­vent prod­uct waste with sim­ple and cost­ef­fec­tive fixes, while sup­port­ing good-pay­ing jobs for Cana­di­ans who man­u­fac­ture the tech­nolo­gies and de­liver the ser­vices that curb emis­sions.”

Achiev­ing the 45 per cent re­duc­tion in oil and gas meth­ane re­lies on the sec­tor im­ple­ment­ing cur­rently avail­able tech­nolo­gies and pro­cesses for re­duc­ing and re­cov­er­ing emis­sions. Fur­ther­more, the anal­y­sis shows that 90 per cent of the emis­sions in the next five years will come from sources in op­er­a­tion to­day, and that the 45 per cent re­duc­tion is in ad­di­tion to re­duc­tions that are achiev­able by cur­rent reg­u­la­tory and pro­jected vol­un­tary ac­tions by 2020. Re­duc­ing meth­ane also re­duces con­ven­tional pol­lu­tants such as volatile or­ganic com­pounds (VOCs) and haz­ardous air pol­lu­tants (HAPs) that are di­rectly con­tribut­ing to poor air qual­ity con­di­tions across Al­berta at no ad­di­tional cost (Gov­ern­ment of Al­berta, Septem­ber 9, 2015).

The re­port, ti­tled “Eco­nomic Anal­y­sis of Meth­ane Emis­sion Re­duc­tion Op­por­tu­ni­ties in the Cana­dian Oil and Nat­u­ral Gas In­dus­tries,” is based on data from nu­mer­ous sources, in­clud­ing oil and gas pro­duc­ers, equip­ment ven­dors, gov­ern­ments and reg­u­la­tors, aca­demics ex­perts and trade as­so­ci­a­tions, and has been peer re­viewed by mul­ti­ple ex­perts in the Cana­dian oil and gas industry. The re­port uses Cana­dian-spe­cific data sup­ple­mented by U.S. data where Cana­dian data is un­avail­able. The U.S. EPA Green­house Gas in­ven­tory and the Green­house Gas Re­port­ing Rule are used in con­junc­tion with Cana­dian re­ports to de­velop emis­sion fac­tors and equip­ment and fa­cil­ity in­for­ma­tion for Cana­dian seg­ments.

Why Meth­ane Mat­ters

Nat­u­ral gas is over 95 per cent meth­ane and is a po­tent green­house gas con­tribut­ing to cli­mate change, be­cause its short-term im­pact is many times greater than car­bon diox­ide. Ac­cord­ing to data from Canada’s green­house gas in­ven­tory, oil and gas meth­ane emis­sions are one of Canada’s largest sources of green­house gas emis­sions and are al­most dou­ble the size of the next largest source of meth­ane in Canada.

Al­berta and Bri­tish Columbia are the coun­try’s main oi­land-gas pro­duc­ing re­gions, re­spon­si­ble for nearly 70 per cent of Canada’s to­tal meth­ane emis­sions.”

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