Reports show higher methane emissions

Debate continues on how urgently they need to be reduced

CALGARY — Two new reports from environmental groups say methane emissions in Canada’s oil and gas sector are higher than previously thought, as debate continues on how urgently they need to be reduced.

The David Suzuki Foundation partnered with St. Francis Xavier University on a study that found methane emissions from oil and gas sites in British Columbia to be 2.5 times higher than previously reported.

“Our finding is quite staggering,” said Ian Bruce, director of the Suzuki Foundation’s science and policy department.

“B.C.’s methane pollution problem, and certainly Canada’s, is much bigger than previously estimated by government and industry.”

The peer-reviewed findings, drawn from measures at over 1,600 well pads in the Montney shale gas formation in northeastern B.C., estimate that operations in the region leak and intentionally release more than 111,800 tonnes of methane annually.

“This is a concern because methane is a very potent greenhouse gas, 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide over a 20-year period,” said Bruce.

He said the effects of methane means its important for the federal government to return to its original timeline for reducing those emissions, rather than the at least three-year delay it recently made after pressure from industry.

Meanwhile, an Environmental Defence report highlighted data produced by GreenPath Energy Ltd. for the Alberta government that shows methane emissions in that province are 60 per cent higher than previously thought.

GreenPath surveyed 676 oil and gas wells on 395 sites across much of Alberta’s gas producing regions and found the number of pumps and controllers on sites that could leak methane was much higher than expected.

Using the updated figure, GreenPath concluded that the five gas-producing areas it studied would have 489,951 annual tonnes of methane emissions from those devices, compared with a 2014 report that showed 306,213 tonnes of methane emissions a year from unreported venting in 2010 for all of Alberta.

Environmental Defence national program manager Dale Marshall said it was concerning that there seems to be an under-reporting of the number of devices on these sites.

“If there are many more devices than being reported at facilities, then either they’re under-reporting on purpose, or they don’t know. Either way it’s problematic,” he said.

Marshall said that more should be done to reduce methane emissions because it’s one of the lowest cost solutions to reducing greenhouse gas emissions overall.

Joshua Anhalt, president at GreenPath North America, said that while the number of devices found in the study was higher than anticipated, there’s still the potential for that number to go even higher since there’s still a lot to learn on methane emissions.

“We’ve only looked at the tip of the iceberg as an industry,” said Anhalt, adding that the good news is there are technologies readily available to quickly reduce or eliminate leaking methane.

Chelsie Klassen, spokeswoman for the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, however, challenged the findings of the studies and questioned their methodology.

“Industry does not support the findings or recommendations of these studies due to their limited scope and misrepresentation of reporting mechanisms currently in place,” Klassen said in an email.

She said there are requirements in place to detect and repair leaks, and industry has been working with regulators and governments on ways to further reduce emissions.

CAPP has, however, also pushed to delay new federal methane regulations, saying in submissions released under access to information that the proposed timeline is aggressive and that it is not a good time to impose extra costs on industry.

The association said it is committed to the target of a 40 to 45 per cent methane emission reduction by 2025 from 2012 levels, but looking for more flexibility on how to get there.

— With files from Mia Rabson in Ottawa

Ian Bickis, The Canadian Press

Just Posted

WATCH: Families make yo-yos and weaved yarn at Red Deer Museum and Art Gallery

It was all about making yo-yos and yarn bombing at Red Deer… Continue reading

Solve mysteries with Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson in Red Deer

At three sold-out one act Sherlock Holmes plays in Red Deer, theatre… Continue reading

Quebec man arrested in slaying of Alberta woman 16 years ago

AIRDRIE, Alta. — A Quebec man has been arrested in the slaying… Continue reading

Construction underway at Medicine River Wildlife Centre in Red Deer

The new building is twice the size of the old one

Fish for free

No license is required to ice fish on Family Day weekend

WATCH Replay Red Deer Feb. 18: Your weekly news highlights

Watch news from Red Deer and Central Alberta

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Trump gets angry about election meddling, but not at Russia

‘Weirdest thing’: Trump expresses anger, but not over Russian election-meddling

New doping charge could hurt Russia’s chance at reinstatement

Russia could lose its chance to be reinstated before the end of the Winter Olympics because of a doping charge against curling bronze medallist Alexander Krushelnitsky.

#Metoo movement causing confusion in many men, fear of missteps with women: experts

Being painted by the same sweeping brush as those alleged to have mistreated women has angered men

Virtue and Moir break their own world record

Virtue and Moir break short dance record to sit first in ice dance at Olympics

Calgary man dies in Mexico following sudden illness

Troy Black was with his wife, Lindsay, in Puerto Vallarta when he began vomiting blood on Thursday

Life or death main decision for school shooting suspect

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — The evidence against the Florida school shooting suspect… Continue reading

Man who stole millions from Seabird Island band sentenced to 4.5 years jail

Stephen MacKinnon sentenced in Chilliwack court for stealing $2.3 million over eight years

Most Read

Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month