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Canada proposes methane emissions rules; Va. cuts requirements for 2 projects


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Canada proposes methane emissions rules; Va. cuts requirements for 2 projects

Canada proposes nationwide methane emissions rules for oil, gas sector

A little more than a year after setting methane emissions reduction goals for the oil and gas sector, the Canadian federal government on May 25 proposed national standards, largely aimed at upstream operators.

Environment and Climate Change Canada, the agency that released the rules, estimated that implementing methane reduction requirements would cost C$3.3 billion over 18 years, offset partially by the value of the captured gas.

The proposal would reduce methane emissions from the sector by about 20 megatonnes each year, adding an estimated C$1.5 billion to revenues annually, the federal government said. The rules would target five main methane sources: leaks from production equipment, hydraulically fractured well completions, venting, compressors and pneumatic devices. Some provisions would go into effect as soon as 2020.

Virginia backs off requirements for Atlantic Coast, Mountain Valley projects

The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality will not require the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley natural gas pipeline projects to provide details about individual crossings of streams and wetlands, a change from the agency's statements over one month ago.

The department issued the clarification May 24 concerning state-issued Clean Water Act Section 401 water quality permits for projects. Department Director for Operations James Golden said the agency had provided inaccurate information after it issued a press release about the 401 certification April 6. In a May 25 interview with S&P Global Market Intelligence, Golden said the department told reporters the permits would require study of all stream crossings.

The pipelines would cross karst terrain in Virginia, and the department will focus on requirements for those areas due to its porous nature. "They're not directly streams or wetlands, but there is a great potential there that the agency is concerned about," Golden said.

Groups urge EPA's Pruitt to keep methane rule, citing air, market benefits

Emphasizing near-term health impacts and economic motivators, dozens of groups asked the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to keep methane emissions rules in place for the oil and gas industry.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt announced April 18 that the agency would stay and reconsider an Obama-era finalized rule that would put limits on methane emissions and other co-emitted pollutants from new oil and gas sources. Originally supposed to go into effect June 3, the rule is now on hold for at least 90 days past the planned compliance date.

"This stay will increase health risks for numerous Americans living in close proximity to wells and other facilities, which will emit significant amounts of additional hazardous and smog-forming pollution that would otherwise have been reduced," the Environmental Defense Fund and more than 60 other groups said in a May 25 letter to Pruitt. "Further, the stay will cause the waste of substantial volumes of valuable natural gas."

New Jersey says permit for PennEast Pipeline still up in the air

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection told the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that it cannot provide an estimate on when it might issue a wetlands permit for the 120-mile PennEast Pipeline Company LLC natural gas pipeline project until the company provides more information on the route.

The state agency notified FERC in a May 23 letter that it remains unwilling to accept the PennEast permit application. "Until an application is determined by the department to be complete," the agency said, "it is not possible to determine a proposed permit issuance date."

Texas' oil, gas regulator reauthorized for 12 years

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill reauthorizing Texas' oil and gas regulator to operate for an additional 12 years.

Abbott signed House Bill 1818 on May 22 following a yearslong battle over the Railroad Commission. The commission was under review by the state Sunset Advisory Commission, which examines state agencies every 12 years and recommends changes or even elimination.