Gas | Policy Brief
Regulatory framework to mitigate methane emissions in North America : the lessons learned for Europe
09 December 2019
The discussions on setting the EU long-term target to reach carbon-neutrality by 2050 are ongoing. So is the debate on the future role of gas in Europe. One of the issues under discussion is how to reduce methane emissions across the natural gas value chain. Most of the natural gas consumed in the EU is produced outside its borders. While EU’s strategic plan for methane is still under preparation it is important to understand the impact of methane regulation in the main natural gas producing countries. Between 2016 and 2018, the US, Canada and Mexico adopted policies and regulatory frameworks addressing methane emissions in order to meet the pledge of their leaders to reduce methane emissions from the oil and gas sectors by 40 to 45% from 2012 levels by 2025. Despite the significant differences in the scope of regulations and allowed exemptions, the three countries introduced sets of performance standards and requirements that build upon the Best Available Techniques and practices to minimize methane emissions from three categories: fugitive, vented emissions and emissions resulting from incomplete combustion, i.e. flaring. Moreover, all countries introduced regular Leak Detection and Repair programs, which direct operators to regularly inspect and repair leaking components, such as valves or pumps, and to monitor and report their emissions. The analysis of these countries’ regulations provides important information on the most effective and robust approaches to reduce methane emissions in the gas value chain. For the EU the availability of transparent and accurate methane emissions data is of key importance to estimate the GHG footprint of the energy it consumes. The cooperation between methane regulatory frameworks could provide for additional dynamic to minimise methane emissions.
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