2019 Air Policy Issues and Knowledge Gaps

Specific RFP’s will be issued in early 2019 to address the following knowledge gaps.

Public Policy Issue Description Associated Knowledge Gap(s)
Methane Emissions

Federal and provincial regulations require the oil and gas sector to reduce methane emissions by 45% from 2014 levels, by 2025.  Industry is focused on meeting the reductions targets and timing in the most cost effective way possible. Advancements in methane detection, quantification, and controls technologies will be delivered in the next 2 years, allowing the sector to implement solutions in a timely manner.



1.           Optimal LDAR Frequency:  Provincial and Federal regulations require Leak Detection and Repair surveys to be performed up to 3 times per year using an Optical Gas Imaging (OGI) camera.  Industry is concerned with the cost of the prescribed LDAR frequency, and concerned the reduction potential will be small relative to other opportunities.  Work was launched in 2018 to determine the relative effectiveness of 3x/yr, 2x/yr, 1x/yr, 1x/2y, and 1x/3yr LDAR surveys.  This work will continue into 2019.

2.           Evaluation of Alternative Detection and Quantification Technologies, and assess their ‘Equivalence’ to prescribed OGI LDAR:  There have been significant advancements in technologies to detect and quantify methane releases, including new OGI cameras, fixed and mobile ground sensors, manned and unmanned aerial sensors, and satellite sensors.  PTAC has evaluated a number of these technologies in 2017 and 2018, and more evaluation is necessary.  In 2019, PTAC will establish field testing areas, where technology vendors can evaluate and compare their technology in real world conditions (ntd:  we need to get this approved by ARPC, find willing operators, seek leveraged funding, and issue a public ’Challenge’.

3.           Improvements to the Methane Emissions Inventory:  Having an accurate inventory of methane emissions by source will ensure industry and regulators are focused on the areas with the greatest reduction potential.  Provincial regulators and PTAC have launched projects in 2017 and 2018 to detect and quantify all methane releases in a large number of facilities.  This work will continue in 2019.

4.           Understanding Routine and non-Routine Venting from Tanks:  Our efforts to establish an accurate methane emission inventory has identified tank venting as an important contributor to methane emissions and oil production and processing facilities.  In addition, anecdotal information suggests that large, abnormal, episodic events can be a significant contributor to a facilities emission, but because of their nature, are difficult to detect and quantify.  Identifying the causes of routine and non-routine venting from tanks is an important first step to mitigation.  This work will be initiated in 2019, and continue thru 2020.

5.           Evaluating Methane Control Technologies:  PTAC has successfully demonstrated a number of technologies to reduce methane emissions, typically in limited field trials.    It is important to evaluate near commercial technologies with different operators, in different operating conditions and different facility types, and document the capabilities and limitations of each technology in a transparent manner, so that all operators can determine the applicability of each technology in their unique asset mix.  This systematic evaluation will begin in earnest in 2019.

Air Quality Indicators Ambient air quality objectives are continuously being reviewed and updated, and industry is being required to meet more stringent targets. 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.
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, and additional public scrutiny.

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.

Condensable PM emission from upstream oil and gas combustion equipment is identified as a potential knowledge gap.

Stationary Combustion 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 a broad 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.