26 March, 2014

EPA Plans Oil/Gas Industry Methane-Emission Fact Finding


New methane-emission regulations for the oil and natural gas industry could follow this fall.

New methane-emission regulations for the oil and natural gas industry could follow this fall.

The White House statistics show that:

  • Methane represents about 9 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.
  • U.S. methane emissions have decreased by 11 percent since 1990.
  • The largest sources of anthropogenic methane are: agriculture (36 percent), natural gas systems (23 percent), landfills (18 percent), coal mining
    (10 percent), petroleum systems (6 percent), and wastewater treatment (2 percent).

#1: Agriculture: All of the proposed actions to reduce methane from the agriculture sector will be voluntary. It is unclear why manure management using biogas systems would not be mandated, given that EPA claims that the technology is proven and cost effective.

#2 Oil and gas industry: The value of additional oil and gas industry regulation depends on your viewpoint. the environmental community sees a need for additional regulation based on studies that suggest that more methane is leaking from natural gas systems than has been reported. On the other hand, the oil and gas industry points out that they have taken significant steps to plug leaks and reduce gas flaring at oil wells, and additional regulations could negatively impact the economy.

The oil and gas industry is already subject to methane emissions regulations and is likely to face additional regulations this fall after EPA releases a series of white papers on several potentially significant sources of methane in the oil and gas sector and solicits input from independent experts. EPA reports that within the natural gas industry, approximately 31 percent of this methane came from production sources, 15 percent from processing, 34 percent from the transmission and storage, and 20 percent from distribution. These statistics may be based on small samples and change with additional data.

AAPG’s Washington office will monitor these white papers and the opportunities to submit comments on the data and issues.

You can read the White House strategy here. To view the upcoming white papers and learn how to respond to EPA sign up for future GEO-DC blogs or follow tweets from @EdieAllisonAAPG.