World leaders met in Sharm al Sheikh, Egypt, and discussed climate change, national environmental policies and global “loss and damage” assistance, ultimately announcing funding for a variety of global initiatives and organizations.
The U.S. and China, the world’s biggest emitters, are both moving to cut emissions of methane, a greenhouse gas that is 80 times as potent at trapping heat from solar radiation as carbon dioxide over its first 20 years in the atmosphere.
President Biden also announced supplemental Clean Air regulations (an extension of the Inflation Reduction Act) and EPA requirements addressing methane emissions in the U.S. According to the White House, 260 billion cubic meters of natural gas are wasted annually due to unchecked emissions and flaring.
The Environmental Protection Agency said it was planning to require oil-and-gas companies to monitor existing production facilities for methane leaks and repair them, according to administration officials.
The planned rules affect hundreds of thousands of U.S. wells, storage tanks and natural-gas processing plants, and require companies to replace leaky, older equipment and buy new monitoring tools. The measures, Mr. Biden said, would lead to an 87% reduction in U.S. methane emissions from covered sources by 2030 from 2005 levels.
EPA Administrator Michael Regan said flaring—a technique used by gas producers to burn off excess methane from oil and natural-gas wells—would be reduced at all well sites under the planned rules. Owners would be required to monitor abandoned wells for methane emissions and plug any leaks, he said.
The American Petroleum Institute, which represents U.S. oil and gas producers, said it is reviewing the proposed rule, adding that federal regulation that built on the industry’s own efforts were helpful in accelerating emissions reductions. The Independent Petroleum Association of America, a Washington, D.C., trade group representing smaller producers, said it is also watching closely, citing “a need to assure that the regulatory structure is cost effective and technologically feasible.”
Rachel Cleetus, lead economist for the Union of Concerned Scientists, a nonprofit advocacy group, said the EPA had “taken an important step forward by issuing a robust standard for methane emissions from oil and gas operations.”
Once the final supplemental rules are issued in 2023, EPA proposes that states have 18 months to submit plans to address the requirements.
Reforms were considered to encourage public and private investment enabling fossil fuel-dependent countries to cut carbon emissions and adapt to climate changes. Presidents Xi and Biden agreed to hold climate negotiations as part of the upcoming G20 summit.
Many countries and regions (UAE and African and Asian nations) intend to continue producing fossil fuel resources to power national growth and global development, even as others pushed for phase out of oil and gas production and use. “Low-emission and renewable energy” was the wording used in the final documents, rather than a definite phase out. Documents also included the now-unrealistic 1.5°C limit on global warming.
While the COP27 agenda officially ended on November 18, negotiations and discussions continued over the weekend, resulting in creation of an international fund to compensate developing nations for economic harm caused by climate-related disasters. Initial opposition from the U.S. and other nations was overcome through removal of potential legal liability for funders.
For U.S. energy firms, strict regulations are coming – for monitoring, measuring, and mitigating methane emissions. The impacts will be huge: Stringent requirements for industry processes and equipment to sharply reduce methane emission. Cost-effective solutions will include more remote technology and environmentally sound sealing materials for leaking equipment and wells.
Ensuring cost-effective remediation will be key to ensuring emissions reduction efforts are maximized. BioSqueeze® provides the most effective solution for eliminating annular leaks, ensuring methane is permanently sequestered efficiently and affordably.
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