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EPA expands upstream oil and gas emissions well site self-audit program

A voluntary program allowing upstream oil and natural gas producers to audit and disclose Clean Air Act violations from well site vapor control systems and storage tanks has been expanded to include all existing upstream facilities, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Dec. 19.

The EPA established the voluntary emissions self-disclosure program for oil and gas operators on March 29, allowing owners of "new" upstream facilities — those built in the 12 months prior to March 29 — to complete a federally designed audit of their facilities for Clean Air Act violations and disclose and correct them without risk of civil penalties. The Dec. 19 announcement expands the regime to include all upstream facilities, but operators have only 12 months to take advantage of the expanded program.

With thousands of well sites and tanks, often in remote locations, the upstream oil and gas sector has numerous locations that are often out of compliance and difficult to monitor, EPA's program memo said. "By temporarily expanding our self-audit program to existing owners, we expect more facilities to return to environmental compliance," EPA Assistant Administrator for Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Susan Bodine said.

Facilities that have been found by EPA or state regulators to be in violation of the Clean Air Act standards are not eligible for the program, the EPA said.