EPA finalizes GHG reporting requirements for petroleum and natural gas industry; a focus on methane

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has finalized greenhouse gas (GHG) reporting requirements for the petroleum and natural gas industries under 40 CFR Part 98, the regulatory framework for the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Reporting Program. This program requires annual reporting of GHGs from large emissions sources and fuel suppliers in the United States.

Equipment leaks and vented GHG emissions from this sector are one of the top sources of human-made methane emissions in the United States. This final rule requires petroleum and natural gas facilities that emit more than 25,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent a year to report annual methane (CH4) and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from equipment leaks and venting, and emissions of CO2, CH4, and nitrous oxide (N2O) from flaring, onshore production stationary and portable combustion emissions, and combustion emissions from stationary equipment involved in natural gas distribution.

EPA estimates that the rule will cover 85% of the total GHG emissions from the US petroleum and natural gas industry with approximately 2,800 facilities reporting. Annual methane emissions from intentional venting and equipment leaks from these are comparable to annual emissions from more than 40 million passenger cars.

While methane is a potent greenhouse gas, trapping more than 20 times as much heat as carbon dioxide, it is also the primary component of natural gas, a valuable fuel. The data collected by the companies will help identify cost effective ways to minimize the loss of methane.

Data collection for petroleum and natural gas sources will begin 1 January 2011, with first annual reports due to EPA 31 March 2012.

EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program, launched in October 2009, requires the reporting of GHG emissions data from large emission sources and fuel suppliers across a range of industry sectors. The data will help guide the development of programs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

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