• US EPA ready to stick to new methane rule in face of pushback from oil and gas industry, as Biden administration approves Willow project in Alaska

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      Patrick Lavery

      Combustion Industry News Editor

Michael Regan, administrator of the US Environmental Protection Agency, has told the Financial Times that any effort on the part of the oil and gas industry to water down methane regulations will receive significant push back.

Currently, the EPA is finalising a new rule to force energy companies to find and rectify methane leaks at wellheads, compressor stations and other sites, and according to the FT, many in the oil and gas industry have lobbied against the measures, particularly as President Joe Biden has called on the industry to drill more wells.

Mr Biden has also controversially approved ConocoPhillip’s US$8 billion Willow oil and gas project in Alaska, which will produce up to 180,000 barrels of oil per day, and, according to US Bureau of Land Management estimates, as much as 278 million tonnes of CO2 over its 30 year lifetime.

Three of the originally proposed five drilling sites will go ahead, a compromise of sorts, although it appears that if Mr Biden did not approve the project, a lengthy court battle would have probably resulted in a ConocoPhillip’s win. On the previous day, Mr Biden announced that around 4 million hectares of Alaska and the Arctic Ocean would have limits imposed for oil and gas drilling.

Mr Regan told the FT that there will be “no facilities that are getting out of jail free,” in regards to methane leakage and that the EPA has “designed a very aggressive rule to ensure that everyone that’s contributing to this problem has some full accounting for that.” Anne Bradbury, head of the American Exploration and Production Council has said of the rules that her “message to EPA would be to work with industry to correct some of these sharp left turns that we see in the rule to ensure that the final rule is appropriately stringent, but also appropriately workable.”

Apart from the new methane rule, which is to be finalised this year, the methane charge, a component of the Inflation Reduction Act, is to come into force next year, although there have been some efforts on the part of the Republican Party to remove the charge from the IRA.