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Protecting Alberta jobs, cutting methane pollution

Alberta is protecting jobs and the economic competitiveness of its oil and gas sector as it delivers on its commitment to cut industrial methane pollution 45 per cent by 2025.

A key component of Alberta’s Climate Leadership Plan is reducing methane emissions, which have a climate change impact that is 25 times greater than carbon dioxide over a 100-year period.

To help oil and gas producers achieve this goal, the government has consulted extensively with industry, environmental groups, academia, and research and technology organizations to develop draft directives.

“We know Alberta’s oil and gas industry is up to the challenge of cutting methane pollution. Their early action and commitment to working with us to get this right means we are well on our way to an Alberta-made plan that puts the jobs of hard-working Albertans and a strong economy front and centre.”

Margaret McCuaig-Boyd, Minister of Energy

The draft directives, released today by the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER), are designed to ensure actions are kept at the lowest cost to Alberta’s energy sector by securing flexibility for companies to innovate and use technologies best suited to their operations through an outcome-based approach, with mandated check-in points to ensure targets are met.

“We know what’s at stake here, including good jobs in the energy sector and the health of the planet we leave behind for our kids. That’s why we took the time to get this right. We look forward to continued work with industry on cutting methane pollution for the benefit of all Albertans.”

Shannon Phillips, Minister of Environment and Parks and the Minister Responsible for the Climate Change Office

To help industry through this transition, the government is providing more than $2.3 billion in assistance, including exempting them from carbon levy costs for the next five years. This will save companies an estimated $2 billion, which they can use to focus on methane reductions.

Other supports include:

  • An estimated $200 million to reward early action to reduce methane through emission offsets.
  • Over $30 million of funding for 12 methane-reduction projects funded by Emissions Reductions Alberta as part of its Methane Challenge in 2017. The projects leverage a total investment of over $88 million and reduce emissions by 7.5 megatonnes by 2030.
  • $38 million over three years available under industrial Energy Efficiency Alberta programs – providing rebates for investments in industrial retrofits, including for methane-reducing equipment.
  • $5 million in new support for the deployment of technologies to monitor, detect, measure, verify and reduce methane emissions in partnership with the Methane Emissions Leadership Alliance.

“The government’s investment in readily available technologies will reduce methane emissions while supporting growth of the technology and service sector supporting the oil and gas industry. More than 90 per cent of oil and gas producers are small companies with fewer than 50 employees. This initiative will help these companies with the starting blocks they need to measure, manage and reduce their methane emissions.”

Jackson Hegland, executive director, Methane Emissions Leadership Alliance

The draft directives include new and enhanced requirements for measuring and reporting methane leaks as well as detecting and repairing them, along with existing and new facility standards and practices.

This is the first time draft AER directives have included mandated check-in points to ensure intended outcomes are being achieved. A multi-stakeholder technical committee will be struck to track progress.

“The development and deployment of new technologies is essential to economically achieving Alberta’s methane-reduction targets. The projects we are advancing through the ERA Methane Challenge will be important contributors to achieving Alberta’s ambition.”

Steve MacDonald, CEO, Emissions Reduction Alberta

Now that the draft regulations have been released, Albertans have another opportunity to provide feedback. The regulations will be online for a 30-day public comment period, with the AER continuing to engage with stakeholders during that time. Once government receives feedback, it will be incorporated before regulations are finalized by the end of 2018.

Since Alberta’s methane-reduction commitment was announced in November 2015 as part of the Climate Leadership Plan, a similar methane-reduction commitment has been brought in by the Government of Canada. The province will seek an equivalency agreement with the federal government that recognizes Alberta’s plan within the national climate plan. Both federal and provincial requirements are set to take effect in 2020.

A copy of the draft directives, additional background and information about the submission process is available from the Alberta Energy Regulator at www.aer.ca.

Methane quick facts

  • Methane is an invisible, odourless and combustible gas.
  • It is a major component of natural gas.
  • It is most often released through equipment and well venting, and fugitive emissions or leaks at oil and gas and energy facilities.
  • Its environmental impact is 25 times greater than carbon dioxide.
  • Reducing methane pollution is recognized as one of the most cost-effective ways to accelerate greenhouse gas reductions.

Media inquiries

Government of Alberta