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The climate change impact of methane is significant – 25 times greater than carbon dioxide over a 100-year period.
In Alberta, the oil and gas industry is the largest source of methane emissions. Approximately three quarters of provincial methane emissions come from the upstream oil and gas sector.
Getting to 2025
Cutting methane emissions is a cost-effective way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Alberta was the first regional government in North America to commit to a methane emissions reduction target for the oil and gas sector. Alberta will use a combination of policy tools to achieve the province's 45% methane reduction target by 2025 including regulatory requirements, market-based programs, and investments in technology and innovation.
The Alberta Energy Regulator (AER), in collaboration with the Alberta government, amended Directive 060: Upstream Petroleum Industry Flaring, Incinerating, and Venting and Directive 017: Measurement Requirements for Oil and Gas Operations to backstop achievement of Alberta’s methane emissions target. The Directives also maintain Alberta’s jurisdiction in regulating the upstream conventional oil and gas industry, enabled through a federal equivalency agreement process. The Directives were developed with input from industry, technology development and research institutions, environmental non-government organizations, and the public.
The requirements set out in the AER Directives address common sources of methane emissions in from the upstream oil and gas industry: pneumatic devices, fugitive emissions, and equipment and solution gas venting at oil and gas sites. The Directives included changes to measurement, monitoring, and reporting of methane emissions to support improved understanding and tracking of oil and gas methane emissions.
The Directives are legislated through Alberta’s Methane Emission Reduction Regulation (MERR). Directives 060 and 017 and MERR took force on January 1, 2020. More information on AER’s Directive 060 and 017 can be found through the AER Methane Reduction information page.
To complement the regulatory approach to methane reduction, Alberta continues to use innovative non-regulatory programs and market-based tools to incent early action and reward projects that drive methane emissions reductions beyond regulatory requirements. Further investment partnerships between government and industry will help lower the cost of Alberta’s regulatory requirements and achieve better methane emissions reduction results.
In Alberta, emission offsets can be generated by projects that have voluntarily reduced their greenhouse gas emissions. Emission offsets are quantified using Alberta-approved methodologies called quantification protocols, and are verified by a third party.
These emissions offsets have financial and environmental value, as they can be used as a compliance option for regulated entities under the Technology Innovation and Emissions Reduction (TIER) regulation Alberta.
Three emissions offset quantification protocols support methane reductions in the oil and gas sector:
- an offset protocol to encourage converting existing pneumatic equipment to highly efficient options
- an offset protocol for solution gas conservation
- an offset protocol for engine fuel management and vent gas capture projects
As new methane regulations come into effect between now and 2025, Alberta’s emissions offset protocols will be updated to ensure that the program will continue to drive reductions for projects that exceed actions required by law. More information is available at Alberta’s Emissions Offset System information page.
Technology and Innovation
Enabling technology, innovation, and fundamental scientific research are key to Alberta’s approach to methane reduction and emissions performance. Using funds from the industry-supported TIER system, the Government of Alberta is to providing continued support for methane technology and innovation approaches across the oil and gas sector. Examples of current and previously implemented programs to support technology and innovation related to methane emissions reductions include:
- Methane Technology Implementation Program (MTIP): $25-million program to support installation of readily-available methane reduction technologies at conventional oil and gas facilities. More information is available on the Carbon Connect International website.
- Baseline and Reduction Opportunity (BRO) Assessment Program: $10-million program to support small and medium-sized oil and gas operators to conduct detailed assessments of methane reduction opportunities and fugitive emissions. More information is available on the Carbon Connect International website.
- Alberta Methane Emissions Program (AMEP): Supports investigating and testing alternative approaches to detection and quantification of fugitive and vented emissions. This province-wide program will expand on the learnings of multiple past methane emission research studies and projects, including:
- The Sundre Petroleum Operators’ Group (SPOG) MEMP pilot study.
- The Alberta Methane Field Challenge, funded by the Alberta Upstream Petroleum Research Fund (AUPRF) and coordinated by Petroleum Technology Alliance Canada (PTAC).
- Emissions Reduction Alberta and Alberta Innovates continue to support various methane emission detection and reduction projects. Visit Emissions Reduction Alberta and Alberta Innovates Clean Resources for information about the initiatives supporting methane emissions detection and reduction research and technology development.