New study underscores need for better methane measurement and strong regulations
Author: Air Pottens
New research reveals methane emissions from Saskatchewan’s oil and gas industry are much higher than previously thought. Fortunately, the Trudeau government has a tremendous opportunity to address this problem as it crafts next year’s federal budget and demonstrates its commitment to ratchet down climate pollution. Methane is the primary ingredient of natural gas and a major contributor to global warming. Canada has made promises to reduce its methane pollution, but study after study after study shows methane emissions from oil and gas operations are much higher than what the industry reports. Without fixing this problem, it will be harder for Canada to meet its climate goals. This latest research looked at oil production facilities in Saskatchewan and found that methane pollution from specific types of heavy oil sites was four times higher than what industry reports. Nearly a thousand facilities were emitting over ten tonnes of pollution an hour, meanwhile the government reports less than three tonnes from these same sites. This astronomical difference between what Canada reports and what scientists measure adds up to more chaos for the climate. Traditionally, federal and provincial governments rely on industry reporting to estimate emissions. These estimates are used to inform policies and track progress against emission reduction targets. But if the numbers are wrong, we could make the dangerous mistake of thinking that we’re cutting more climate pollution than we really are. Case-in-point: In December 2021, the Saskatchewan government released a report on oil and gas emissions claiming that major sources of methane pollution had been cut by 50%. Saskatchewan’s then Minister for Energy and Resources celebrated the accomplishment , saying the province had “surpassed current reduction targets” and that all energy producers should emulate the province’s regulations.