4 The record articles

U.S. EPA Issued Final Updates to the Suite of Methane Rules for the Oil & Natural Gas Industry

Posted: May 17th, 2016

Authors: JP K. 

On May 12, 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) took a huge step forward with their plan to reduce methane emissions from the oil and natural gas industry. This “huge step forward” was the issuance of three final rules.

  1. Updates to 40 CFR Part 60, Subpart OOOO and establishment of 40 CFR Part 60, Subpart OOOOa
  2. Source determination rule (aka the meaning of the term adjacent)
  3. Federal Implementation Plan for U.S. EPA’s Indian Country True Minor Sources

The actions above should not overshadow the fact that U.S. EPA also issued the draft Information Collection Request (ICR) for the oil and natural gas industry on the same day. ALL4 posted a blog in April 2016 that announced the ICR was looming. We also posted a follow-up blog that provides hyperlinks to the draft ICR just issued by U.S. EPA. Go ahead and click the links above to check them out.

If you find yourself forgetting the details of the three rules listed above and need to take a stroll down memory lane, ALL4 can help you with that. We published several blogs on our website about the various draft rules and comment periods. They are conveniently located on our Oil and Gas Sector Initiative page. Go ahead and explore the page while you are thinking about it.

The remainder of this blog touches on Subpart OOOO, OOOOa, and the Source Determination rule. Note that the preamble and final rules for these two actions are a combined 648 pages. This few hundred word blog is only going to be the tip of the iceberg. However, it provides essential links to prepublication versions as well as one click access to a library of related content.

Subpart OOOO & OOOOa News

  • Amended Subpart OOOO applies to facilities constructed, modified, or reconstructed after August 23, 2011 and on or before September 18, 2015.
  • Subpart OOOOa was added and applies to facilities constructed, modified, or reconstructed after September 18, 2015.
  • Final rule is effective 60 days after the date of publication in the Federal Register. (Are you ready for this?)
  • U.S. EPA’s fact sheet quotation “EPA’s final rule will get more methane reductions than estimated at proposal because of changes made in response to the more than 900,000 public comments…” The following changes are cited by U.S. EPA as contributing to the increased methane reductions:
    • The final rule requires low production wells to monitor leaks while the proposed rule exempted them.
    • The final rule requires compressor stations to monitor leaks four times a year while the proposed rule required monitoring twice a year.
  • U.S. EPA’s short list of changes made to the final rule as a result of public comments:
    • Fixed schedule for leak monitoring while the proposed rule established monitoring based on performance (e.g., Well Sites: semiannual leak monitoring and up to one year to complete the initial survey).
    • Final rule allows Method 21 (aka sniffer) as an alternative to optical gas imaging with a repair threshold of 500 ppm.
    • Final rule also allows other technologies to monitor leaks. However, Agency approval is required for other technologies.
  • U.S. EPA clarified that annual reports are due January 13 of each year.
  • Subpart OOOO is one of the rules potentially affected by the proposed “Electronic Reporting and Recordkeeping Requirements for New Source Performance Standards” (80 FR 15099, March 20, 2015). Owner/operators would be required to use Compliance and Emissions Data Reporting Interface (CEDRI) for the subpart or an alternate electronic file format consistent with the form’s extensible markup language (XML) schema.
    • Take note that ALL4 has been busy providing electronic reporting (e.g., CEDRI) consulting assistance to the Cement and Refinery industries. Check out this blog to learn more about CEDRI and electronic reporting.
  • Final rule requires a monitoring plan that covers the collection of fugitive emissions components at well sites or compressor stations within a company-defined area. The proposed rule required “corporate-wide and site-specific monitoring plans.”

Source Determination News

  • Final rule is effective 60 days after the date of publication in the Federal Register.
  • The final definition is based on the proximity of emitting activities and consideration of whether the activities share equipment. Specifically,
    • U.S. EPA selected ¼ mile as a “bright line” distance for clarifying the meaning of “adjacent”.
    • Emitting equipment located on separate surface sites within ¼ mile of each other would only be aggregated as a single stationary source if the emitting equipment also has a relationship that meets the “common sense notion of a plant.”
      • Shared equipment necessary to process or store oil or natural gas will be aggregated within the ¼ mile.
      • Two well sites that feed to a common pipeline are not considered to be part of the same stationary source if they do not share any processing or storage equipment between them.
  • The U.S. EPA is adopting this revised definition in the regulations that apply to permits issued by the U.S. EPA and states to which the U.S. EPA has delegated federal authority to administer these programs.

If the above U.S. EPA actions aren’t enough excitement for you (sarcasm), the U.S. EPA anticipates issuing final Control Techniques Guidelines (CTG) for reducing VOC emissions from existing sources later this spring. ALL4 will remain vigilant and keep you informed when it happens.

As always, ALL4 is rolling up the sleeves and digging into these final rules to continue to stay ahead of this ever changing subject matter. Help is only a phone call or email away. My contact information is (610) 933-5246, extension 120 or jkleinle@all4inc.com.


    Sign up to receive 4 THE RECORD articles here. You'll get timely articles on current environmental, health, and safety regulatory topics as well as updates on webinars and training events.
    First Name: *
    Last Name: *
    Location: *
    Email: *

    Skip to content