Study shows methane released by oil and gas operations in B.C. higher than reported 

Photo by Joshua Doubek, Wikipedia Creative Commons

VANCOUVER, B.C. — A new study conducted by the David Suzuki Foundation in partnership with St. Francis Xavier University estimates that methane emissions from B.C. oil and natural gas operations are at least two and a half times higher than reported by the provincial government.

According to the Foundation, the study is the first to comprehensively research methane emissions in Canada. It highlights the urgent need for the federal government to get methane emissions under control and not delay action as it recently proposed.

“Our peer-reviewed research shows the true magnitude of Canada’s methane pollution problem is much bigger than previously estimated by industry and government,” Ian Bruce, Foundation director of science and policy said. “Now that we know the extent of the problem, the David Suzuki Foundation is calling on the federal government to take a responsible approach by quickly enacting strong regulations and ensuring industry follows them.”

The scientists that conducted the study travelled in sniffer trucks with mounted gas-detection instruments, covering more than 1,600 well pads and facilities across the Montney region. According to the scientists’ research, more than 111,800 tonnes of methane are leaked into the air every year in the Montney region alone. The study says that is the climate pollution equivalent of burning more than 4.5 million tonnes of coal or putting more than two million cars on the road.

Over a 20-year period, methane is 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a climate pollutant. Leading scientists estimate that methane is responsible for 25 percent of changes to Earth’s climate that are being observed.

The results are available and undergoing final review in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics Discussions.

Environmental Defence also released a new report today showing that methane emissions from Alberta’s oil and gas industry are significantly higher than previously reported. The organization says that strong federal regulations are needed reduce and eliminate these emissions.

“Applied at a national scale, these findings show that fracked gas — rather than serving as a ‘clean’ transition fuel — actually makes it harder for Canada to meet its climate change commitments,” Bruce said. “Although our research shows that methane pollution is a big part of the problem, if action is taken now it can also be a big part of the solution.”

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