4 The record articles

Final Amendments to 40 CFR Part 60 Subpart OOOO

Posted: August 14th, 2013

Author: All4 Staff 

On August 2, 2013, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) finalized revisions to the storage vessel provisions of 40 CFR Part 60 Subpart OOOO – Standards of Performance for Crude Oil and Natural Gas Production, Transmission and Distribution.  The revisions will impact owners and operators of storage vessels used in the oil and natural gas production and transmission industry.  The rule finalizes certain aspects of the proposed rule, and makes several important changes to requirements (e.g., notifications, emissions, definitions, and reporting).  To be a bit more specific, the updates extend and phase the emission control deadline for affected storages vessels and provide an alternative emission limit, to name a few. 

You may be asking yourself…so how does this apply to me and what do I do next?  Please read below to find out as I address several key aspects regarding applicability, compliance requirements, and dates.

What Storage Vessels Are Affected?

Let’s first take a look at what storage tanks are considered “affected facilities” since the updated rule revised a few key definitions relating to “storage vessel affected facility”.  A storage tank is considered an affected facility if all of the following conditions apply:

  • It was constructed, reconstructed, or modified after August 23, 2011,
  • It has potential to emit (PTE) volatile organic compounds (VOC) of six (6) or more tons per year,
  • It is used to store any of the following
    • crude oil,
    • condensate – updated definition: “means hydrocarbon liquid separated from natural gas that condenses due to changes in the temperature, pressure, or both, and remains liquid at standard conditions”
    • unrefined petroleum liquids (a.k.a., intermediate hydrocarbon liquids), or
    • produced water – updated definition: “means water that is extracted from the earth from an oil or natural gas production well, or that is separated from crude oil, condensate, or natural gas after extraction”
    • It is located anywhere along the oil and natural gas production and transmission process, specifically:
      • Natural Gas – from well to the point where gas enters the distribution system
      • Oil – from well to the point where oil is transferred to the pipeline for crude oil transmission

A storage vessel is NOT considered an affected facility and is not covered by this standard if any of the following conditions apply:

  • It is a fuel tank,
  • It has an enforceable permit limit that is less than six (6) tons per year and is under federal, state, local or tribal authority, or
  • It is located at a refinery

Are VOC Emission Control and Reductions Required?

Yes, the updated rule still requires VOC emissions to be reduced by 95 percent for all affected storage vessels.  However the updated rule establishes an extended and phased deadline for complying with this requirement.

When are VOC Emission Control and Reductions Required?

The April 2012 version of the rule required VOC emission reduction for all affected storage tanks by October 15, 2013.  However the revised rule specifies two compliance dates (i.e., for Group 1 and Group 2 vessels) that are based upon the vessel(s) construction or modification date.  The revised rule considers the fact that VOC emissions from storage tanks generally decline over time as production from wells and associated liquids decline.  I know what you are thinking…what are Group 1 and Group 2 storage tanks?  Read on to find out.

The revised rule definition of Group 1 and 2 storage vessels are as follows:

  • Group 1 vessel: means a storage vessel for which construction, modification or reconstruction has commenced after August 23, 2011, and on or before April 12, 2013
  • Group 2 vessel: means a storage vessel for which construction, modification or reconstruction has commenced after April 12, 2013

If your storage vessel is affected or even if you are not yet sure, please mark your calendar with the deadlines for the phased-in controls and notification requirements bulleted below for each group of affected storage tanks.

  • Group 1 vessels:
    • Submit the notification identifying each affected Group 1 storage tank with the initial annual report that is due no later than 90 days after the end of the initial compliance period (i.e., January 13, 2014)
    • Achieve the required emissions reduction by April 15, 2015
  • Group 2 vessels:
    •  Achieve required emissions reduction by April 15, 2014, or within 60 days after startup, whichever is later

You may have just noticed two key changes that occurred between the April, proposed, and final versions of the rules. If you missed them, here they are:

  1. All affected storage tanks (i.e., Group 1 and 2) must control and reduce VOC emission by 95 percent.  Yes, this means that the U.S EPA is NOT finalizing the proposed requirement for Group 1 tanks to control VOC emission only if there is a change that potentially would increase the vessel’s VOC emissions.
  2. Owners/operators now have 90-days to submit annual reports (not the 30-days originally specified)

Does the Final Rule Still Include Any Alternatives to Reducing VOC Emissions by 95 Percent?

If you are cringing at the thought of having to install controls, you should be happy to learn that there is still an alternative compliance option within the final rule.  The final rule provides an alternate sustained uncontrolled actual VOC emission limit of less than four (4) tons per year.  Before you celebrate, the rule requires owners/operators to demonstrate compliance using the 12 months immediately preceding the demonstration and to re-evaluate emissions on a monthly basis.  Also, if an affected storage vessel’s VOC PTE decreases to less than 6 tons per year, the storage vessel will remain an affected facility.

When Do I Need To Estimate My Storage Tank(s) Potential Emissions?

You may want to revisit the definition of Group 1 and 2 storage vessels again to ensure that the deadlines are understood.  Tanks owners/operators within the oil and gas industry must estimate all of their tank(s) potential emissions by the dates bulleted below to determine if they are subject to this NSPS (i.e., affected facilities).

  • Group 1 vessels: By October 15, 2013
  • Group 2 vessels: Within 30-days of startup

If you have not done so already, be sure to mark your calendar as appropriate.

This entry is getting quite long and could be much longer as I did not cover other updates such as specific details regarding calculating VOCs, test protocol requirements, and compliance monitoring, to name a few.  U.S. EPA has published a fact sheet that summarizes the information above as well as action and updates not covered.  The official version of the rule is forthcoming in the Federal Register. A pre-publication version can be viewed here.

If you still have unanswered questions or would like to learn how ALL4 can provide your organization with compliance assistance related to this and other air rules, feel free to contact me at jkleinle@all4inc.com.


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