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Rob Eberhart, Bobcat Oilfield Services, Inc.
2023 1st Quarter Newsletter

EKOGA has joined with other producer associations (including KIOGA, NSWA, and other state associations) to file a final comment on the Supplemental Proposal on Quad O proposed regulations. The message the Producer Associations have consistently conveyed from the start is "one size does not fit all." Working with James Elliot of Spilman Thomas & Battle, comments were filed with the intent “to identify the most detrimental and unsupported proposals by EPA and provide alternatives that provide the equivalent or nearly the equivalent environmental benefits as substantially less cost and confusion to the Oil and Gas Industry, in particular the small business that are disproportionally impacted by these proposed regulations.”

While the 48-page final comment documented extensively how the proposed regulations would impact producer association members, the following is a summary of some of the main issues documented in the comment. The comment clearly showed that “Producer Associations are committed to working with EPA to craft legally justified regulations that protect the environment and do not place unnecessary burdens on the Oil and Gas Industry.” The final comment noted: 

“Fugitive Emissions Monitoring of "Low Production Wells" Misses the Mark.” EPA's continued focus on "component" counts creates a number of problems for regulators and the regulated. State regulators and owners/operators do not make decisions based on component counts. Nonetheless, EPA relies on component counts to determine the type and frequency of fugitive emissions monitoring. EPA defines four categories of sources/sites: a fifth category is needed - an Intermediate Well Site. As proposed below, an Intermediate Well Site would allow certain wells sites, historically considered to be a "low production well", to utilize industry practices to identify leaks at substantially less cost than EPA's proposed framework. EPA's proposal places an economic burden on owners/operators of low-production wells that is not justified or supported.

“EPA Utilizes Inaccurate Data to Justify "Zero-Emitting" BSER for Pneumatic Controllers and Pumps.” Concurrent with this supplemental proposal, EPA has proposed revisions to its GHRP rules and acknowledges that current GHGRP rules yield inaccurate and poor-quality emissions data. …EPA knowingly utilizes historical GHGRP Inventories that overstate methane emissions by as much as 96 percent for intermittent-bleed pneumatic devices to make the reasonableness determination work. Pneumatic controllers and pumps are not the problem EPA portrays them to be. EPA needs to withdraw the current “zero-emitting” BSER for pneumatic devices and consider the BSER alternatives proposed...

“The Super-Emitter Response Program Should be Revised to Address Unexpected Significant Releases, Without Subjecting Owners/Operators to Significant Expense.” Malfunctions happen, and equipment breaks such that greater than anticipated emissions to the atmosphere occur. The owner/operator of such equipment should not be characterized as a "super-emitter" and the negative connotations associated with such a label. EPA should clarify that any information submitted by a "third-party notifier" cannot be used as the basis for enforcement. Additionally, third-party notifiers should be required to post a bond or other financial assurances that would compensate owners/operators for the cost associated with resp

The purpose of the final comment is to show that “America's oil and natural gas producers recognize their responsibility to effectively manage the environmental impact of their operations. Clearly, among these is the control of methane emissions from their operations. The goal here should be to develop and implement cost-effective regulations and voluntary programs to assure that methane emissions are controlled.”

There is little indication the EPA will amend its approach or modify its regulatory process or enforcement in consideration of the above concerns. However, the implementation process will take some time. As states must come up with regulatory processes that are then approved by the EPA. Then, there is a 15-month window for implementation. This will push full implementation past the next election and potentially to a new administration which could potentially have a more favorable view towards the industry in its oversight of the implementation of regulations.

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