Methane Reduction

A multitude of factors contribute to climate change, including emissions from oil and gas operations. With Alberta at the heart of Canada’s oil sector, the AER, in collaboration with the Government of Alberta, is taking action to protect our environment by reducing methane emissions.

With the announcement of the Government of Alberta’s Climate Leadership Plan in 2015, the AER knew its task was to support the 45 per cent reduction in methane emissions from the oil and gas industry by 2025—the question was, how?

Methane is a colourless, odourless, flammable gas that is the main constituent of natural gas. The climate change impact of methane is significant—it is 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.

To meet the goal set out by the government, the AER—with input from key players—is developing a multifaceted approach that includes enhancements to existing directives, multiple studies in partnership with other organizations, economic modelling to assess the regulatory impacts, updates to the ST60B report, and work in the following areas:

  • Fugitive emissions
  • Measurement, monitoring, and reporting
  • Regulations for existing facilities
  • Regulations for new facilities

The development of this approach is collaborative and focused on multistakeholder engagement.

The primary method of engagement is the Methane Reduction Oversight Committee, which consists of members from government, environmental nongovernment organizations, industry, and technology groups.

The committee, which came together in September 2016, is helping to develop recommendations and options to inform cost-effective regulations for new and existing facilities in the oil and gas sector.

The province is using the federal baseline data from 2014, where methane emissions from Alberta’s oil and gas sector were 31.4 megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent. This accounted for 70 per cent of provincial methane emissions and 25 per cent of all emissions from the upstream oil and gas sector.

Cutting methane emissions will be the most cost-effective way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. As the AER continues to protect what matters, we will collaborate to reduce emissions and deliver measurable results.