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Oil and Gas Update

EPA Proposes to Reconsider New Source Performance Standards for Oil & Gas Emissions

October 24, 2018

By: Robert G. McLusky

In 2016, EPA finalized new source performance standards for emissions of greenhouse gases in the form of limitations on methane and volatile organic compounds (“VOC”) from the oil and natural gas sector.  We have written about that rule before: “Obama Announces New Rules on Oil & Gas Industry’s Methane Emissions,” “EPA Withdraws 2016 Information Request on Methane Emissions from the Oil and Gas Industry,” and “EPA Reconsidering Methane Rule.” 

Following issuance of the final rule in 2016 (81 FR 35824 (June 3, 2016)), EPA received petitions for reconsideration of several provisions of the new standards set out at 40 C.F.R. Part 60, Subpart OOOOa.  EPA has now granted reconsideration on three issues:  

  1. Fugitive emissions requirements;
  2. Well site manic pump standards; and
  3. New requirements for certification of closed vent systems by a professional engineer.

Each of these proposed changes is discussed briefly below.

Fugitive Emissions Requirements:

EPA has proposed to revise the monitoring frequencies to include (i) annual monitoring for non-low production well sites; (ii) biennial (once every other year) monitoring for low production well sites; (iii) co-proposing semi-annual and annual monitoring for compressor stations; and (iv) annual monitoring for compressor stations located on the Alaskan North Slope.  EPA is also proposing that monitoring will no longer be required when all major production and processing equipment is removed from a well site such that it becomes a wellhead-only well site.  It is also proposing modifications to the definition of “well site” to include exclusions for certain third-party equipment.

Pneumatic Pumps:

EPA proposes to expand the technical and feasibility provision to all well sites by eliminating the categorical distinction between greenfield and non-greenfield sites.  This would avoid the potential of requiring that a greenfield site control its pneumatic pump emissions even if technically infeasible to do so.

Professional Engineer Certifications:

EPA has proposed to amend the certification requirements for closed-vent system design and technical and feasibility for pneumatic pumps by allowing either a PE or an in-house engineer with experience on the design and operation of the closed-vent system or pneumatic pump to make the certification. A copy of the proposed rule may be found here. It contains substantially more detail than set out here.


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