On March 10, 2014, US EPA published proposed revisions to its Greenhouse Gas (GHG) reporting requirements for petroleum and natural gas sources under the GHG Reporting Program.  The Program, which was enacted in 2008, collects GHG data from facilities that conduct petroleum and natural gas systems activities, including production, processing, transmission, and distribution and produce more than 25,000 metric tons of GHG emissions annually.  US EPA enacted the rule, 40 CFR Part 98, Subpart W, as it applies to oil and natural gas industry in 2010.  After Subpart W was implemented, US EPA found a number potential changes to its rules that would improve the quality of the data and simplify compliance by reporters.

The proposed revisions include: (1) revising units of measure, terms, and definitions; (2) simplifying calculation methods for certain sources; (3) expanding the use of site-specific gas composition data; (4) revising calculation methods for centrifugal and reciprocating compressors that have presented safety and operational process concerns; (5) clarifying procedures for estimating missing data; and (6) removing provisions relating to the Best Available Monitoring Methods (BAMM).

The revisions are intended to improve the quality and clarity of the data received, rather than change the number of reporters or GHG emissions covered by the Program. For example, the proposed revisions change the unit of measurement from metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent to metric tons of each reported GHG.  This is consistent with the other parts of the Program and is intended to simplify the calculations required of reporters. However, the proposed rule revisions could also have a significant negative impact on the oil and natural gas industry.  The proposal removes the option to use BAMM for unique monitoring circumstances for newly acquired wells  and instead proposes that best engineering estimates be used for up to six months from the first date of Subpart W applicability for any parameter that cannot be reasonably  measured or obtained in accordance with Subpart W.  In phasing out BAMM, the US EPA notes that it “expect[s]  that facilities would be in compliance with the monitoring and QA/QC methods required under subpart W for the 2015 calendar year.”

US EPA also proposes a determination that none of the new or substantially revised data elements and the one existing data element are entitled to confidential protection.  According to US EPA, the Agency used existing data categories and categorical confidentiality determinations to reach this conclusion.  The existing data element affected by the proposed revisions requires reporting of ”the total annual oil throughput that is sent to all atmospheric tanks in the basin, in barrels.” Examples of new or substantially revised data elements determined not to be confidential include quantity of gas produced in the calendar year from wells, whether hydrocarbon liquids were produced through enhanced oil recovery operations, and whether the facility had any gas well completions or workovers with hydraulic fracturing in the calendar year.  US EPA is seeking public comment specifically on the proposed data category assignments and application of the established categorical confidentiality determinations to data elements assigned to categories with such determinations.

US EPA is accepting comments on the proposed revisions until April 24, 2014.