U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued updates to its oil and natural gas standards for storage tanks, in response to petitions for reconsideration of the 2012 New Source Performance Standards for Oil and Natural Gas Production. The updates will phase in emission control deadlines, starting with higher-emitting tanks first, and will provide time needed to ramp up the production and installation of controls. The final rule does not affect the April 2012 standards for capturing natural gas from hydraulically fractured wells.
The revised rules require storage tanks that emit 6 or more tons of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) a year to reduce emissions by 95 %. The rule establishes two emission control deadlines:
- tanks that come online after April 12, 2013 are likely to have higher emissions and must control VOC emissions within 60 days or by April 15, 2014, whichever is later; and
- tanks that came online before April 12, 2013 are likely to have lower emissions and must control VOC emissions by April 15, 2015.
The updated standards also establish an alternative emissions limit that would allow owners/operators to remove controls from tanks if they can demonstrate that the tanks emit less than 4 tons per year of VOC emissions without controls. In addition, the rule streamlines compliance and monitoring requirements for tanks that have already installed controls.