Varcoe: Alberta vows to combat new federal methane goal, whereas oilpatch says 75 per cent minimize is 'achievable'

It’s honest to say the trade stays deeply frightened concerning the broader oilpatch emissions cap and its potential to curtail manufacturing, however on the methane rules, that does not appear to be the case

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A curious conundrum about setting targets is what to do as soon as they’re virtually reached.

On Monday, federal Setting Minister Steven Guilbeault answered that query on the difficulty of methane emissions from the Canadian oilpatch — purpose larger.

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On the COP28 local weather summit in Dubai, Guilbeault launched Canada’s new draft rules that may require the upstream oil and gasoline trade to cut back its methane emissions by at the least 75 per cent (from 2012 ranges) by the top of this decade.

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The announcement comes two years after the federal Liberal social gathering campaigned on making the deep minimize on methane ranges, whereas additionally pledging to introduce a cap on all greenhouse gasoline emissions from the Canadian oil and gasoline trade.

It additionally follows the U.S. and Canadian governments agreeing in March 2016 to decrease methane emissions from the oil and gasoline trade by 40 to 45 per cent by 2025.

Final month, the Alberta authorities introduced it had reached the goal to decrease emissions by 45 per cent by 2025, three years forward of schedule.

It seems the nationwide goal for trade can be inside attain.

“We’re on observe to surpass our aim forward of schedule, so as we speak’s announcement builds on previous success,” Guilbeault mentioned on the worldwide convention.

“I’m very comfortable to announce the discharge of much more formidable draft methane rules for Canada’s oil and gasoline sector.”

Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault
Setting Minister Steven Guilbeault. Photograph by Chris Younger /The Canadian Press/File

It’s honest to say the trade stays deeply frightened concerning the broader oilpatch emissions cap and its potential to curtail manufacturing, however on the methane rules, that doesn’t appear to be the case.

“The federal authorities clearly appears to have listened to among the previous considerations and the rules appear to be now getting in the suitable route,” Tristan Goodman, president of the Explorers and Producers Affiliation of Canada, mentioned in an interview.

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“Sure, there’s an elevated price to trade. But when that is applied accurately, it’s a manageable price that trade was seemingly transferring towards already . . . It truly is achievable.”

Producers mentioned the ultimate particulars of the rules will probably be vital. But, they level to the progress that’s been made to achieve the sooner goal.

“I do know on the area degree, it has been a spotlight of numerous producers to cut back methane emissions,” mentioned Phil Hodge, CEO of Calgary-based gasoline producer Pine Cliff Vitality.

“We’re already effectively superior and I believe we are going to proceed to steer the world.”

Michael Belenkie, chief govt of Benefit Vitality, famous his firm lowered its methane emissions depth by 10 per cent between 2021 and 2022.

It has deployed photo voltaic panels to help in emissions reductions, changed pneumatic gadgets, has adopted a method that features fugitive emissions administration and eradicated unintended venting.

“Whereas there could also be some producers in Canada that should pull up their socks on this due to the character of their property, broadly talking, if Canada and the States are transferring in lockstep, this will probably be harder for People to regulate than for Canadians, as a result of we’ve accomplished a lot laborious work,” Belenkie mentioned.

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“Talking for Benefit, we consider that we’re in fairly fine condition.”

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Methane, the principle part in pure gasoline, doesn’t keep within the environment so long as carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, though it has a higher local weather affect. Methane is taken into account to be 86 instances extra dangerous than CO2 over a two-decade interval.

In accordance with the federal authorities, oil and gasoline amenities are the biggest emitters of methane, accountable for about 40 per cent of such emissions in 2021. Most of it’s emitted throughout venting or as fugitive emissions coming from gear.

The Alberta authorities launched a press release on Monday morning, blasting Ottawa and asserting that it’s the province’s constitutional proper to handle emissions from the trade.

“As soon as once more, the federal authorities is setting unrealistic targets and timelines. Infrastructure can solely be up to date as shortly as know-how permits,” Premier Danielle Smith and Setting Minister Rebecca Schulz mentioned in a joint assertion.

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“Given the unconstitutional nature of this newest federal intrusion into our provincial jurisdiction, our authorities will use each device at our disposal to make sure these absurd federal rules are by no means applied in our province.”

Premier Danielle Smith with ministers Rebecca Schulz and Nathan Neudorf on the sovereignty act
Premier Danielle Smith, with Minister of Setting and Protected Areas Rebecca Schulz and Minister of Affordability and Utilities Nathan Neudorf, participate in a press convention the place they outlined the Alberta Sovereignty Inside a United Canada Act movement that will probably be introduced earlier than the Alberta Legislature, in Edmonton on Monday, Nov. 27, 2023. David Bloom/Postmedia

The brand new draft rules would require a third-party audit and inspection of corporations reporting on their methane emissions, in addition to prohibit venting (with some exceptions) and have new flaring limits.

The federal authorities estimates the fee to adjust to the rules will probably be about $70 per tonne of GHG emissions reductions.

Setting and Local weather Change Canada says the conservation steps would save the trade as much as $1 billion in misplaced income, whereas incremental compliance prices are estimated at $15.4 billion between 2027 and 2040.

On the COP28 summit, 50 international oil and gasoline producers — making up about 40 per cent of complete manufacturing — have agreed to drop their CO2 emissions to web zero by 2050 and scale back methane emissions to close zero by the top of this decade.

Consultancy S&P International Commodity Insights famous the dedication would require the producers to set interim targets to chop methane emissions to 0.2 per cent of oil and pure gasoline manufacturing by 2030, and to finish routine flaring.

Engineering professor Matthew Johnson, who heads the Vitality & Emissions Analysis Lab at Carleton College, famous the European Union has agreed to herald most methane depth values for pure gasoline and oil that’s imported.

There are numerous “massive steps” included inside Canada’s draft rules, similar to guidelines over venting, he added.

“Completely, 100 per cent, that is an achievable goal,” Johnson mentioned.

“Now we have to do that in Canada.”

Chris Varcoe is a Calgary Herald columnist.

[email protected]

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