The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has amended two provisions of the fugitive emissions compliance regulations for compressor stations.
The amendments address two of the “fugitive emissions” requirements in the 2016 New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) rule: a requirement that leaking components be repaired during unplanned or emergency shutdowns; and the monitoring survey requirements for well sites located on the Alaskan North Slope.
Regarding the first provision, operators were previously required to repair sources of emissions (leaks) during unscheduled or emergency shutdowns. The amendment removed that requirement, though operators are still required to complete repairs during a scheduled compressor station shutdown, well shutdown, well shut-in, after a planned vent blowdown, or within two years, whichever is earlier, according to the EPA.
The impetus for the change comes from public comments and supporting data that show that the 2016 rule not only could cause disruption in natural gas service, but emissions released from venting or flaring from a blowdown during an unscheduled shutdown could actually surpass the fugitive emissions released by the leaks over the course of two years.
The EPA expects this amendment to save the industry US$14 million to US$16 million in compliance costs from 2021-2035
The second provision calls for a separate monitoring schedule for well sites on the Alaskan North Slope, which runs from the Brooks mountain range to the Arctic Ocean. The amendment applies to well sites that begin production between September and March. Those meeting that criteria must conduct initial leaks monitoring surveys within six months after starting up production or by June 30, whichever is later. New or modified well sites that begin production between April and August must follow the 2016 rule, which requires monitoring surveys within 60 days of production startup, according to the EPA.
A summary of the report can be found here.