The committee will support industry’s desire for shared research development to develop credible and relevant information to address knowledge gaps in the understanding and management of high priority environmental and social matters. Our goal is to initiate credible research projects, both fundamental and applied, on existing and emerging environmental issues to support both development of new regulatory requirements and industry best practices.
This collaborative approach will engage subject matter experts, from industry, government, and academia, to identify, prioritize, and manage knowledge gaps resulting in research projects. These research projects will help in development of smart regulations, and best practices, and identification of potential technologies to find cost effective approach in managing and mitigating environmental footprint of suspend, abandoned, remediated, and reclaimed wells.

2016 Public Policy Issues and Knowledge Gaps with Associated Projects

Reducing emissions of targeted compounds sometimes has negative or collateral impacts on other substances. One well documented example involves reciprocating engines, where lowering NOx emissions could result in increased greenhouse gas emissions. An investigation of similar trade-offs associated with other combustion sources, such as boilers and heaters, is required. Building and researching a list of not yet commercial GHG reducing technologies for the Natural Gas sector. This will help evaluate what the GHG reducing potential is for the industry – to respond to the Federal GHG regulation. Development and evaluation of the relationships between NOx, N2O, and CO emissions and engine process parameters, such as exhaust temperature, pressure and oxygen concentration, is requested.

Public Policy Issue Description Associated Knowledge Gap Associated Projects
Methane Emissions Contributing 43 per cent of Canada’s national methane emissions those industries involved in the production processing and storage of oil and gas resources in Canada are under scrutiny to further reduce methane emissions where able to do so. In many cases regulatory action being deliberated  is at a provincial national and international level. Methane emissions abatement options are highly source and process specific in nature making it difficult to offer generic solutions for the affected industry. In order to address methane emissions more urgently the oil and gas sector requires better and more innovative solutions as it continues to explore options and take action to reduce methane emissions in a technically achievable and economically sustainable manner.
  1. Vehicle-based fugitive emission detection and attribution within Alberta energy developments.
  2. Mitigating low volume methane emissions
  3. Advanced Methane Measurements using Ground-Based and UAV Based Sensors Development of a Highly Repeatable and Auditable Cost-Effective Monitoring System to Locate and Quantify Emissions Via Small Unmanned Aerial Systems (sUASs)
  4. Airborne 3D Gas Imager Aerial Verification
  5. Aerial Emissions Detection and Mapping
  6. Mobile Methane Sensing Analytics for Emissions Reduction Pneumatic Vent Gas Measurement
  7. Verification of Quantitative Optical Gas Imaging System Methane Emissions – Human and Ecological Health Risk Based Ranking and Prioritization Tool
Emissions from Hydraulic Fracturing The proliferation of hydraulic fracturing activities across Canada has led to increased public scrutiny and concerns regarding upstream oil and gas operations. These concerns include  emissions associated with the resource development process including but not limited to drilling and completions; surface casing vent flows; gas migration; and abandonment/reclamation/remediation. There is a demonstrated need to explore environmental R&D related to the detection and reduction of air emissions from wellsites over the well development lifespan.
Air Emission Inventories Air emissions inventories are becoming an increasingly important method of monitoring and reporting on industry emissions for the public governments and individual companies. Further governments are  using these emissions inventories to negotiate international treaties establish air emissions policy measures and targets and develop emission forecasts. As such it is important that upstream oil and gas operators report facility emissions using standardized methodologies and realistic emission factors with low uncertainty and also have access to a wide variety of effective emissions monitoring technologies. Inaccurate and/or overly conservative emissions factors can result in an inaccurate portrayal of the emissions profile of the oil and gas industry. This in turn  can  lead to  unnecessary or ineffective regulatory  requirements. The development of technically defensible and effective emission management policies and regulations is reliant upon good quality emissions data in order to both identify potential opportunities for emission reductions and to determine industry performance and emissions reductions in future years. There are opportunities to address this knowledge gap by investigating potential improvements to the certainty of quantification (emission factors and measurement technologies and methodologies) monitoring data management and reporting of emissions from the upstream oil and gas sector.
Air Quality Indicators Ambient air quality objectives are continuously being reviewed and updated. To determine the impact of such policy changes it is important for industry to understand the contribution that upstream oil and gas facilities have to the substances being reviewed. An accurate understanding of the potential release of substances subject to new or revised air quality objectives from the UOG industry is required. Additionally if the substance is being released in quantities that may be subject to regulatory requirements reasonable and cost-effective emission control options would need to be developed.
BTEX Compounds Benzene along with other chemically similar compounds is released through a number of UOG operations. However it is also consider a non-threshold toxicant and is a known carcinogen where human exposure must be managed. The emission control technologies used to minimize exposure have evolved over time but there is a need to more clearly understand the level of control offered by this equipment to allow the setting of effective regulatory requirements. As regulations for the control of benzene emissions mature and become more stringent it is important to have accurate destruction efficiencies for different combustion technologies utilized in controlling these emissions. An assessment of both new and existing technologies can better inform strong science-based policy for the management of these emissions.
Flaring/Venting/Fugitives Conservation requirements in the upstream oil and gas industry have become more stringent over time due to both air quality and greenhouse gas issues. Industry is being asked to improve performance through the entire resource development process. For industry to evaluate the impact of potential policy measures to control air pollutants and greenhouse gases they need to assess emerging technologies that have not yet been proven for commercial use. To assess the suitability of the technology industry requires knowledge of the overall reduction potential and cost-effectiveness. To that end there needs to be abroad understanding of the trade-offs and full environmental life-cycle of each technology (i.e. increased collateral emissions; specifically GHGs carbon monoxide and unburned hydrocarbons and additional fuel usage; when using natural gas fired reciprocating engines etc.) so that a net environmental benefit is achieved through broad technological deployment.
  1. Flare Emissions from Unconventional Oil and Gas Extraction and Processing: An NSERC Strategic Network for Cleaner Fossil Fuels
  2. Revised emission factors for level controllers
  3. Leak detection and repair baseline
  4. NSERC FlareNet Strategic Research Network
 Odour Odours are one of the most common air pollution complaints which can both directly and indirectly affect the health and quality of life of Albertans. However the substances contributing to odour and sources of odour are diverse and the range of potential adverse effects is varied. Moreover the subjectivity involved in odour complaints the difficulty in identifying and measuring odourous compounds and the absence of clear odour management approaches and outcomes make odour management difficult. As odour complaints often necessitate the need for odour management activities the identification and control of odours and their sources can be both technically difficult and  expensive. Further information is needed to guide prevention and mitigation efforts and to identify appropriate tools to understand and effectively manage odour issues.