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Tim McMillan on industry's methane reduction solution

CAPP's president and CEO discusses an approach that will meet Canada's 45 per cent methane emissions reduction target and save jobs.

Governments have set a goal of reducing methane emissions from oil and gas operations by 45 per cent by 2025. Industry has a competitive plan to achieve this commitment in the most efficient way that will protect 7,000 jobs and balance environmental and economic priorities, according to an analysis conducted by the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP). CAPP president and CEO Tim McMillan discusses industry’s approach and the progress that’s already being made to reduce methane emissions in Canada.

Video transcript:

Q: Canada has committed to a 45 per cent reduction in methane emissions. What’s industry’s perspective on this?

A: The methane emissions target at 45 per cent—it’s ambitious. But it’s one where I think Canada can have a great story to tell, that we partnered with the U.S. and said, ‘if we work together, and we both achieve a 45 per cent reduction that will work in a North American context.’ Unfortunately, the U.S. said, ‘we’re out, we’ve changed direction, we’re not doing it anymore.’ Canada has taken a different path and said, ‘you can decide what’s right for the U.S., but in Canada we think we can achieve the 45 per cent reduction.’ And I’m proud to say that industry agrees. We think we can make a 45 per cent reduction. We’ve already started working on it and are seeing some fairly substantial gains towards that reduction already. It’s not going to be easy. It’s going to have real and meaningful cost to our industry, and it likely will be challenging on the jobs front. But if done smartly, if done with the most effective way to reduce these emissions, we can minimize job losses, we can minimize investment that may go other places, and maintain as high a standard as possible here in Canada.

Q: What is the potential economic impact of industry’s plan to reduce methane emissions?

A: The plan that we’re putting forward to reduce methane emissions by 45 per cent, it will have real and meaningful costs—about $700 million to our industry. But we think by doing that, it will be the most efficient and we’ll be able to maintain as many jobs as possible; as many as 7,000 job losses can be mitigated by putting forward this plan.

"We think we can make a 45 per cent reduction. We’ve already started working on it and are seeing some fairly substantial gains towards that reduction already."

Q: What are the keys to achieving this goal?

A: The keys to achieving this goal are many; it’s multi-faceted. We have to be using the best technology. In fact, we have to be developing new technologies and techniques to get us all the way there. We believe that we can do this most efficiently if we can take a fleet approach to get the reductions where we can get the biggest bang for our buck. We have to be able to use data and analytics that if we are doing leak detection, we should be looking first at the highest potential challenges and the biggest emitters as opposed to just doing a one-size-fits-all approach. So being very thoughtful in our approach is really what’s going to enable us to do this in a way that maintains the most jobs and does it at the lowest cost.

Q: Where is industry today in terms of methane emissions reductions?

A: I’m glad to say that we’ve got a head start – that we started as early as 2012 to move down this path of being very responsible with methane emissions and we have regulations in place that govern venting and flaring, that govern the incineration of our emissions in the field. All of these are not just North American-leading, but globally-leading.

Q:How do we compare to the United States?

A: We stack up very well against the U.S. In Canada, we started putting in regulatory targets through the Clean Air Strategic Alliance (CASA) in 1998. In the U.S., they did not put in targets until 2009 and one of the big differences between Canada and the U.S. is in the U.S. their requirements are only on new facilities. In Canada, we’re regulating both new and existing facilities to ensure that they upgrade to the higher standards. And in the U.S., there are some states that are picking up the mantle where the federal U.S. has stepped away, but unfortunately that’s some of the more minor producing oil states. It’s not Texas or Oklahoma or North Dakota, and for Canada I guess we don’t need to worry about the U.S. as much as we do ourselves, so we’re going to forge ahead with a positive plan that’s done the right way.

Read more:

Methane action plan can cut emissions by 45 per cent, protect 7,000 jobs: CAPP

Methane Innovations: Finding new ways to reduce emissions

Infographic: Taking action on methane in Canada and the U.S., a timeline

In this article, Context speaks with:
  • Tim McMillan
    Tim McMillan CAPP President and CEO