Natural gas produced in northeastern B.C. is said to have some of the lowest emissions intensity in North America, thanks in part to regulations and best practices aimed at curbing methane emissions.
Now a new case study from the Pembina Institute says reduced methane emissions in the Peace River region of Alberta demonstrates it’s possible to get the oil and gas sector's methane emissions to near zero by 2030.
Reducing methane emissions is the low hanging fruit for the oil and gas sector, since methane is such a potent greenhouse gas, and since the many fixes are relatively low cost and reduces waste of a valuable resource.
“Rapidly tackling methane, which has almost 100 times the warming impact of carbon dioxide, will be crucial to staving off serious near-term impacts of warming," the Pembina Institute says in a recently released case study. "Further, methane abatement is low-cost, and much can be done using existing technologies."
The study focused on the oil and gas sector of the Peace River region of Alberta.
The Government of Alberta implemented new rules to limit methane emissions from heavy oil production in the Peace River region in 2014, the study notes.
The new regulations included a ban on routine venting and required monthly detection surveys.
“Over the implementation period, these facilities’ emissions from venting decreased from a high of nearly three million cubic metres in 2014 to near-zero in 2019,” the Pembina study concludes.
The Trudeau government has set targets for the oil and gas sector aimed at reducing methane from the sector by at least 75% from 2012 levels by 2030. The Pembina Institute thinks the industry could actually reduce emissions even further than that.
“The lesson from the Peace River region is that federal and provincial governments in Canada can and should be more ambitious with methane reduction targets and associated regulations," Pembina says. “Regulations should be designed with the objective of cutting methane emissions from oil and gas production to near-zero, of which venting and leaks area critical piece.”