Opinion Editorial – Myth-busting: Methane Emissions

This op-ed originally appeared on the Canada’s Energy Citizens blog.

As Energy Citizens, we are proud of Canada’s oil and natural gas industry. We know it is produced safely and in an environmentally responsible way in a country that has rule of law and respect for human rights.

But there are some groups who think otherwise. And they’re at it again. Recently, the David Suzuki Foundation and Environmental Defense Canada cherry-picked  two reports on methane emissions creating what basically amount to “fake news.” In this blog post, we’re going to debunk those myths so that you can spread the truth!

Myth #1 – “The research documents the first ground-based study of fugitive emissions in the Canadian energy sector.” (Suzuki Foundation). 

The truth:  The Suzuki Foundation admits the study doesn’t differentiate whether emissions are coming from biological sources or the industry, even going so far as to say don’t know what the “precise origin” is.

Myth #2 – “More than 80 per cent of gas production and more than 90 per cent of new wells in B.C. are fracked. For Canada as a whole, fracking makes up 51 per cent of gas production, with the figure expected to grow to 80 per cent by 2035, according to Natural Resources Canada.” (Suzuki Foundation). 

The truth:  This is blatantly false.  The study doesn’t indicate that fracked wells are the problem and need to be shut down. What it does say is reducing emissions in the Montney needs to be focused on high- or super-emitting wells, abandoned sites and aging infrastructure.” 

Myth #63 – “The oil and natural gas industry is underreporting methane emissions in Alberta” (Environmental Defense). 

The truth: Companies are required by the  provincial regulator to develop and implement Fugitive Emissions Management Programs, including infrared camera surveys.

Myth #4 – “Industry is not currently required to look at methane leaks” (Environmental Defense).

The truth:  Blatantly false – full stop.

Myth #5 – “…operations in B.C’s Montney region leak and intentionally release more than 111,800 tonnes of methane into the air annually. Approximately half of all well and processing sites in this region are releasing methane into the air.” (Suzuki Foundation). 

The truth: What the Suzuki Foundation isn’t sharing is that the study found that of the newer infrastructure in the Montney “relatively little of it emits- presumably because of improved modern practice, integrity, and better design of new valves, seals and flange gaskets etc.”

Myth #6 – “Methane pollution from B.C. oil and gas operations is now estimated to be at least 2.5 times higher than estimated by the provincial government. Actual emissions may be much higher.” (Suzuki Foundation). 

The truth:  The study also reported that Canadian operations are still lower-emitting than US natural gas sites that data on methane has been collected from- “But, in comparison to studies at select US natural gas sites.

Myth #7 – “Equipment is routinely malfunctioning and leaking methane and industry is venting methane – simply releasing it into the atmosphere” (Environmental Defense). 

The truth:  The report found very few pieces of malfunctioning equipment. Additionally, Alberta Energy Regulator data shows that 96.4% of gas was conserved in 2015 – more than any U.S. jurisdiction.

We know that special interest groups are determined to shut down an industry that contributes incredibly to Canada – through taxes and royalties paid that can be used to fund schools, hospital and other social services, and jobs. But armed with the facts, we can stand up for oil and gas developed the Canadian way.

So proudly share this blog post with friends and family. Together, we can give a voice to the thousands of men and women who work in an industry that heats our homes and helps pay for the roads, hospitals and schools that make Canada one of the best places in the world to live!