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Europe agrees deal to tackle methane emissions from fossil fuels


The European Union has agreed a deal for the first time to tackle methane emissions from fossil fuels which has significant implications for the region’s foreign energy suppliers.

MEPs and EU governments in the Council on November 16 agreed the bloc’s first-ever methane regulation two years after Brussels and Washington launched the Global Methane Pledge at COP26 in Glasgow.

Under the proposed law  coal, oil and gas companies would be required to report their methane emissions and take steps to avoid them. The measures include finding and fixing leaks, and limiting wasteful practices such as venting and flaring gas by 2027.

Jutta Paulus, a German MEP with the Green grouping who worked on the proposal, said: “Finally, the EU tackles the second most important greenhouse gas with ambitious measures. Less methane emissions mean more climate protection and more energy sovereignty.”

The regulation still requires approval from the Parliament and EU countries but has already attracted criticism from the energy sector with claims it relies on “technologies that do not exist”.

Energy producers say they are extremely concerned about the regulation, saying some requirements in the EU rules “rely on technologies that do not exist.”

Nareh Terzian, head of strategy and communications at International Association of Oil & Gas Producers (IOGP) Europe said: “The EU Methane Regulation is at risk of being impossible to implement by the European oil and gas industry because of certain requirements that are disconnected from reality.”

Terzian says the proposed threshold for leak detection and repair, as suggested by the European Parliament, is “disproportionate and nonsensical.”

Methane can leak from fossil fuel infrastructure during extraction, transport, or storage, and it has more than 80 times the global warming power of CO2 in the first 20 years after it reaches the atmosphere.

The legislation addresses imports, which make up about 80 percent of the EU’s oil and gas consumption — requiring companies importing oil and gas to demonstrate that their supply chain has emissions monitoring standards equivalent to the EU’s from 2027.

The Council and the Parliament requested the Commission set methane intensity limits for fossil fuels imported into the EU, with a view of imposing penalties on companies that don’t comply with the new limits from 2030.

Critics also claim regulations affecting “flaring” to increase efficiency to 99% would require “the replacement of numerous flare stacks”, which would “very likely lead to a net negative environmental impact.”

Another contentious area involves the EU rules on methane leakage from imported oil and gas, an issue common to Russia, Ukraine, or Azerbaijan where ageing infrastructure is a factor.

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