EnviroTech is Evolving
EnviroTech is now the ESAA Environmental Summit
April 12-14, 2023
AER: Directive 073: Requirements for Inspection and Compliance of Oil Sands Mining and Processing Plant Operations in the Oil Sands Mining Area
Effective Date: November 18, 2022
Replaces the previous edition released on December 17, 2008.
See section 1.4 for what’s new in this edition.
Purpose of this Directive
This directive is designed to ensure that oil sands mining and processing plant operations are inspected by AER staff in a consistent manner. This directive and its inspection program are also intended to inform industry personnel about what is required to achieve a satisfactory AER inspection result.
Canada and the United States to take further actions to address emissions from North American oil and gas sector
Today at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27), the Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, and John Kerry, Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, together welcomed continued close collaboration between Canada and the United States to further reduce methane emissions from their respective oil and gas operations.
Both countries agree that significant opportunities exist to eliminate routine venting and flaring, enhance leak detection and repair, and address problems such as blow-downs and other potentially large releases.
This builds on existing work on both sides of the border. In Canada, earlier this year, Minister Guilbeault committed to working with the Canadian oil and gas industry to identify pathways to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050 and reaffirmed Canada’s commitment to reduce methane emissions by at least seventy-five percent by 2030. Today, Environment and Climate Change Canada published a proposed framework outlining the main elements of the new regulations. The draft regulations will be published early next year.
During their meeting on the sidelines of COP27, Minister Guilbeault and Special Envoy Kerry took note of the pivotal moment in time with respect to climate. Both underscored the need to avoid backsliding on commitments made at COP26 in Glasgow, the importance of countries implementing concrete actions to reach their climate goals, and limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Cutting oil and gas methane emissions is one of the fastest and most cost-effective ways to combat climate change. Methane is a potent, but relatively short-lived, greenhouse gas, and is eighty-six times more harmful than carbon dioxide over a twenty-year period. Now that profit margins are robust and energy prices are high, the time is right to invest to reduce emissions in the oil and gas sector. Making investments now will position the North American oil and gas industry among the cleanest in the world and enable it to compete in an increasingly decarbonizing industry.
Canada and US actions to reduce oil and gas emissions are complemented by the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative. Through this initiative, some of the world’s largest oil and gas companies recently announced a target of near-zero methane emissions from oil and gas production by 2030. This announcement reflects both the importance of reducing these emissions, and the fact that it is possible to achieve reductions in the sector in the short term.
In February 2021, Canada and the US launched the Roadmap for a Renewed US-Canada Partnership and the US-Canada High-Level Ministerial Dialogue on Climate Ambition, reaffirming a shared commitment to reduce oil and gas methane emissions to protect public health and the environment as guided by the best science.
Lowering methane emissions can have positive impacts on air quality and public health. Methane contributes to the formation of ground-level ozone that causes serious health problems, such as reduced lung function and asthma attacks, and is responsible for half a million premature deaths globally.
In November 2021, Canada joined over one hundred countries in supporting the Global Methane Pledge (GMP). This pledge commits members to a collective goal of reducing human-caused methane emissions by thirty percent from 2020 levels by 2030. More recently, Canada joined as an inaugural member, supporting the GMP Energy Pathway.
In December 2021, a federal review of Canada’s oil and gas methane regulations to reduce methane emissions by forty to forty-five percent by 2025 (from 2012 levels) concluded that Canada is on track to meet its target.
Methane emissions underestimated, a growing number of reports suggest
(Source: Canadian Press) As the federal government moves to tighten regulations on methane emissions, new assessments suggest the amount of the potent greenhouse gas escaping into the atmosphere has been significantly underestimated.
A recent survey of oil and gas facilities in Canada found widespread methane releases. Satellite imagery saw giant plumes of the gas escaping landfills. And published research suggests claims of success at curtailing the gas may be partly the result of accounting changes, not actual reductions.
“There’s uncontrolled methane everywhere,” said Tim Doty, a former longtime senior regulator for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality who used an infrared camera to look for emissions at oil and gas facilities along the Alberta-Saskatchewan boundary last July.
Doty, brought to Canada by the David Suzuki Foundation, surveyed 128 sites around Lloydminster, Alta., and Kindersley, Sask.
“It wasn’t a problem finding emissions,” he said. “It was a problem with the number of hours in a day.
“I just can’t describe the magnitude of the emissions we saw.”
Doty said he saw flares, used to dispose of unwanted methane from oil wells, burning off far less than the 98 per cent of the gas they are assumed to. He saw flares operating unlit, which turns them into a methane vent. He saw very few vapour recovery units, which collect fugitive gases.
Doty’s familiar with Texas’ Permian basin, which he calls “the worst” for methane release.
“I wouldn’t say what I saw in Canada was much better,” he said.
A Montreal company called GHGSat is using six orbiting satellites to track methane releases in real-time. Just over the last week, it has found two significant plumes from landfills in Quebec — one releasing more than a tonne of methane an hour.
That’s significantly more than the official figure, based on modelling and estimates. Actual measurements are showing those estimates are lowball.
“The method of choice across the world has been estimates,” said Jean-Francois Gauthier, vice-president of GHGSat. “These have been shown to be wildly inadequate.”
Elisabeth Besson, spokeswoman for the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, said industry is on track to reduce methane emissions by 45 per cent by 2025. She said emissions intensity was cut by a third between 2011 and 2019.
She said tank vents, pneumatics and pumps are being improved and venting and flaring are being reduced.
“CAPP and its members have made emissions reduction a priority and will continue to invest in innovation,” she wrote in an email.
Still, production volumes have increased. Data from the European Union show Canada is the only G7 country where methane emissions have increased since 1990, although the rate of increase is slowing.
Other studies suggest methane, 83 times more potent than carbon dioxide over 20 years, is underestimated.
A 2016 study from Carleton University using airplane overflights concluded Alberta’s emissions were up to 50 per cent higher than federal estimates. In February, the International Energy Agency warned that, worldwide, about 70 per cent more methane was reaching the atmosphere than governments report.
Even Canada’s successes may be overstated. A peer-reviewed study last week suggested they may be at least partly the result of a change made in 2020 in how emissions are calculated.
Researchers from the Environmental Defense Fund found a dramatic drop in Alberta’s emissions between 2019 and 2020 coincided with a new method of calculating them. When they applied the old method to the new data, the drop was much less.
“Does this just mean that the change in accounting has resulted in an apparent decrease?” asked co-author Scott Seymour. “That’s what it appears to be.”
The questions over just how much methane Canada pumps into the atmosphere come as the federal government expands regulation of the gas.
Canada is now developing regulations that would apply to all natural gas facilities, minimize use of flares, ensure those that exist work properly, increase inspection and require equipment upgrades. The new rules are to include comprehensive, consistent emission monitoring and reporting.
It can’t come soon enough, said Doty.
“I don’t think — and my experience tells me — that regulatory authorities have any idea of how much methane is going into the atmosphere. It’s just an estimate.
“And I guarantee you, it’s an underestimate.”
Brownie Awards 2022 Winners: Celebrating brownfield champions and evolving environmental policies
(Source: Environment Journal) Last night, industry leaders involved in the redevelopment and revitalization of brownfield properties were honoured as part of the 23rd Annual Brownie Awards, presented by Actual Media Inc. in collaboration with the Canadian Brownfields Network (CBN). The event was held at the Delta Hotel by Marriott in the heart of downtown Toronto.
Dedicated to the rehabilitation of sites that were once contaminated, under-utilized, and undeveloped, the Brownie Awards provide annual recognition and celebration of brownfield projects, policies, and innovators across the country. These properties contribute to the growth and resilient renewal of healthy cities and vibrant communities.
This year, the Brownie Awards boasted the most geographically diverse variety of projects and project teams in the history of the awards program, featuring finalists from British Columbia to Newfoundland, including several First Nations.
“Welcome to the best and the brightest in the industry,” said Master of Ceremonies Todd Latham, president of Actual Media and a founder of the Brownie Awards. He kicked off the event with his signature style and humour, as well as a serious message: “Every year we gather everyone to talk about these ‘sites with personalities.’ It’s great to see how the brownfields industry has evolved over the past two decades, but there’s still much work to do. Derelict properties should be considered a redevelopment opportunity.”
Latham said he likens brownfields to triathlons, a multi-sport exercise that is multi-disciplinary and involves a lot of hard work but when you get past that finish line you get a rush. He emphasized the importance of being determined and following through on difficult tasks, including the perseverance required to obtain rezoning and approvals, and overcome inconsistent policies around issues such as aggregates.
Latham also acknowledged the important participation of the esteemed Brownie Awards judging panel. composed of a range of senior-level industry stakeholders.
Renowned brownfields expert Christopher De Sousa delivered his keynote address on “Evolving Expectations for Brownfield Redevelopment,” providing an informative and inspiring insight into the evolution of sustainable brownfields redevelopment in jurisdictions across North America. He put a spotlight on the evolution of policy to refocus priorities in alignment with broader social initiatives and mandates.
“One of the differences between how Canada and the United States approached the issue was our more environmentally oriented emphasis on brownfield redevelopment as an alternative to creating urban sprawl, offering a more sustainable approach for regional growth,” explained De Sousa.
But according to De Sousa there is room for improvement with regard to public and private support.“We need to evolve our national expectations. The fact that we have done so well to advance brownfield redevelopment through good planning and strong market actors should not be reason to check out, but rather to check in and finish what we started. So, to support our evolving expectations we need better sustainability guidance and tools, particularly to advance social and economic equity objectives and outcomes,” said De Sousa.
“We need to acknowledge that advancing environmental, social, and economic sustainability takes money and is not always demanded by the market. So, if we want it, we have to publicly support it. This will take commitment, leadership, and engagement at all levels on a host of issues.”
De Sousa concluded with a direct call to action: “Evolving brownfields to the next level will take a strengthened and renewed level of partnership from all of those here tonight.”
This year the Brownie Awards gala was a sold out event, with more than 220 in attendance.
For a complete list of winners visit: https://environmentjournal.ca/brownie-awards-2022-celebrating-brownfield-champions-and-evolving-policies/
New ESAA Member
ESAA welcomes the following new members. If you are not a member of ESAA you can join now via: https://esaa.org/join-esaa/
Roseridge Waste Commission
Sturgeon County, AB T8R 0N9
Phone: (780) 619-2585
Susan Berry, Executive Director
Roseridge is a provider of solid non hazardous waste disposal services. Roseridges’ values that influence our operations and collaborative relationships are safety, environmental stewardship, and desire to be client focussed. Roseridge has operated a Class II landfill near Morinville, Alberta in Sturgeon County since 1980 serving municipal, residential, commercial and industrial customers. Contaminated soil disposal is just one of the services we provide.
Upcoming Industry Events
SUSTAINTECH CONFERENCE 2023
Call for Abstracts
- Saskatchewan’s premier environmental conference
- Regulatory Sessions Wednesday
- Technical Sessions Thursday
Canadian Environmental & Engineering Executives Conference
January 25-27 – Vancouver
We are less than three months away from the next CE3 Conference in Vancouver. There has been excellent response to our registration calls and we will have representation of company executives from across the country. We have lined up outstanding speakers, panelists and moderators who will discuss some of the key challenges and opportunities facing the environmental and engineering consulting sector in Canada.
We are very pleased to present to you the executives who will be speaking at CE3C in January in Vancouver. Don’t miss this rare networking and business opportunity to meet with your peers and colleagues in the industry.
See you in Vancouver on January 25-27, 2023
AER: Training Event: OneStop Record of Site Condition (RoSC) Information Update
As part of AERs ongoing engagement activities, this is a live online session delivered through Microsoft Teams that will include some demonstration of the OneStop system. The information will be tailored towards attendees with subject matter familiarity and there may be a degree of repetition for those who have attended previous sessions. Topics covered will include:
- An overview of the purpose, use and completion of RoSCs
- Summary of RoSC submissions to OneStop since launch in July 2021
- Common review observations and frequently asked questions
You will have the opportunity to ask questions and familiarize yourself with requirements, expectations and process.
There are 2 date options:
- November 21st: 14:00 – 15:00
- November 24th: 10:00 – 11:00
To register, sign up through Eventbrite – via link on our “events” page.
ESAA Job Board
Check out the new improved ESAA Job Board. Members can post ads for free.
- Intermediate Environmental Scientist –
- Practice Area Lead, Natural Sciences –
- Project Coordinator –
- Senior Environmental Consultant –
- Intermediate Biologist –
- Intermediate/Senior Environmental Specialist –
- Senior Technical Specialist –
- Intermediate/Senior Environmental Specialist –
- Intermediate Environmental Specialist –
- Project Manager –
- Municipal Approvals Engineer –
- Environmental Compliance Administrator –
- Environmental Compliance Administrator –
- Labourer (4 – Various Locations) –
- ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENTIST/ENGINEER – SALT IMPACTED SITES –
- Project Manager –
- Reclamation Coordinator (Temp) –
- Abandonment Technician –
- Practice Area Lead, Hydrogeology and Water –