The move would allow drillers to annually inspect wells and pipelines and further offer them 60 days of time to make necessary repairs.
Oil and gas giant, Royal Dutch Shell plc has recently urged U.S. President Donald Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to tighten restrictions on methane leaks and emissions from oil & gas drilling and fracking operations, instead of loosening them as planned.
According to Washington Examiner, Gretchen Watkins, President, Shell U.S., said that the company is breaking from its long tradition of not criticizing the U.S. government policies by urging the EPA to regulate methane, a strong greenhouse gas that is the primary component of natural gas.
She said that the company generally avoids telling the government how to do its jobs, however, it is time to break that rule and request the EPA to continue the direct regulation of methane emissions.
For the record, in September 2018, the EPA proposed plans that would weaken a 2016 Obama administration rule by permitting companies to reduce attempts to inspect and fix pipelines and wells that leak methane. The recent proposal is anticipated to allow drillers to conduct inspections annually and offer them 60 days of time to make necessary repairs. Furthermore, it would allow companies operating in states with low methane standards to follow those rules instead of federal ones.
As per reports, methane leaks from oil & gas wells accounts for 10% of the U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. The gas has over 80 times the heat-trapping potential of CO2 in the first 20 years of its escape into the atmosphere.
Reportedly, oil and gas majors have acknowledged that the industry should better control methane leaks to stay relevant in the future until cleaner renewables become a more prominent energy source. However, companies have generally preferred voluntary action instead of government regulation.
Reliable sources cite that Shell has also internally set targets to control its methane emissions to below 0.2% of production by 2025, figures far less than permitted by the current EPA regulations.