A wave of jobs in methane emissions management may be on the way as the oil and gas industry navigates new regulations.
In the results of a survey released last week by the Methane Emissions Leadership Alliance (MELA), 80 per cent of companies with methane management products and services expect to fill new positions in the next 12-18 months, while 40 percent anticipate their headcount to grow by more than 100 percent.
One of the surveyed companies was Edmonton-based Calscan Solutions. Its operations manager, Henri Tessier, expects to triple staff and expand Calscan’s facilities to meet the needs customers striving for zero methane emissions.
“With more than 70,000 well sites in Alberta alone, oil and gas producers will be looking for solutions to eliminate methane leaks and return this gas to the pipeline, and this presents a tremendous opportunity for Calscan to grow," Tessier said.
Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas that has 25 times the climate warming effects of carbon dioxide. Reigning in methane leaks from the oil and gas industry from equipment like compressors, pumps and pipelines or vented methane from oil and gas wells and petroleum storage tanks is part of Alberta's Climate Plan and the subsequent federal Pan-Canadian Climate Framework.
Both plans target methane emissions reductions of 45 per cent by 2025, but concrete directives for emission reductions haven’t yet been released.
In Alberta, draft regulations for methane emission reduction in upstream oil and gas are expected this summer for public comment and a directive could be in place by “early 2018,” according to Don Wood, president of Baseline Regulatory Compliance Services, who spoke at a recent Petroleum Technology Alliance Canada event.
The federal government, on the other hand, wants to delay the implementation of its methane regulations by up to three years, according to documents obtained by CBC News.
The initial federal plan was to phase in oil and gas methane rules starting in 2018 an have firm regulations in place by 2020. The revised federal timeline pushes that out to 2023, which has implications for methane management job opportunities in oil and gas producing provinces that don’t have methane emissions targets of their own, such as Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Newfoundland.
According to MELA, which was formed just last year by Canadian methane management technology and service providers, there are almost 180 companies in Canada that provide methane management products and services. Despite the regulatory uncertainties at the federal level, MELA’s executive director, Jackson Hegland expects sees a growth spurt for this segment of industry.
"Our analysis shows there is a real opportunity for business growth and job creation in the emerging methane management sector, contributing to Canada's leadership in the race to reduce methane emissions," he said in a statement.