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Emissions Intensity Program

Colorado regulators adopted statewide rules to slash methane emissions and volatile organic compounds (VOC) from oil and gas operations, including an unprecedented program giving the industry choices in curtailing emissions. The “intensity program,” under which operators must reduce emissions based on oil and gas production, was supported by the industry.

“The commission’s adoption of an emissions intensity program, the centerpiece of this rulemaking, is the first of its kind at the state level and allows operators the flexibility to reduce emissions proactively and innovatively, rather than via top-down mandates,” said Lynn Granger, executive director of API Colorado, an industry trade group.

The rules mandate “capture or control of a significant portion” of methane emissions from oil and gas production sites, pipeline operations, and midstream facilities; expanded inspections at facilities, including production sites and compressor stations; performance testing of enclosed combustion devices designed to reduce VOC emissions; and improved transparency and accountability in the state’s annual emissions inventories, said the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE).

“Colorado continues to be an innovative leader in reducing emissions from the oil and gas sector,” said CDPE’s Jill Hunsaker Ryan, executive director. “This rule puts Colorado firmly on the path to meet our 2030 emission reduction goals from the oil and gas industry – a 60% reduction from 2005 levels – and it paves the way for others to use these model policies to globally address the warming environment.”

Focus on Flexibility

The Air Pollution Control Division (APCD) estimated the eight new regulations, implemented over the next two years, will cost the industry a total of $59 million to $142 million.

The regulations were adopted by the state’s Air Quality Control Commission (AQCC) to help meet statutory requirements for Colorado to cut its greenhouse gas emissions from 2005 levels by 26% by 2025, 50% by 2030, and 90% by 2050.

“The intensity program will really push the industry to show what they can do,” commissioner Martha Rudolph said.

“This approach will provide operators with the flexibility to achieve reductions in the most cost-effective manner, while allowing the state to achieve overall reductions across the industry necessary to meet Colorado’s climate goals,” AQCC said.

Inspection schedules vary, but every Colorado well site will be inspected at least annually, with tighter emission standards for wells operating in disproportionately impacted communities.

The goal, commissioner Elise Jones said, “is to reduce methane emissions, not vilify the oil and gas industry.”

Methane Mitigation

The oil and gas industry is the third largest source of greenhouse gases (after transportation and electricity generation) in Colorado.

To meet Colorado’s 2030 goal, the industry must cut annual methane emissions by 140,000 metric tons.

  1. 64,000 tons would come from the inspection and repair program.
  2. 55,000 tons would come from the intensity program, with emission limits per 1,000 barrels of oil equivalent (oil plus natural gas) produced.
  3. 9,600 tons would come from emission limits on pigging and blowdown operations.

Colorado’s support of a flexible plan that allows operators room to be creative in their approach to curb emissions is a great example of what regulations should be, unlike many recent punitive measures that have failed to consider the industry. Collaboration and innovation are the key to minimizing emissions while ensuring reliable energy to power the modern world.

For operators in Colorado and throughout the U.S.A. looking for innovative ways to reduce their methane emissions, BioSqueeze® is here to help. Using natural biomineralization, BioSqueeze seals even the smallest leakage pathways in both producing and P&A wells and has already saved operators hundreds of thousands of dollars.

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