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U.S. EPA Promulgates New Air Rules For Hydraulic Fracking

Siros_Steven_COLORBy Steven M. Siros


Under newly promulgated U.S. EPA regulations, on or before January 1, 2015, natural gas fracking operations will be required to capture volatile organic compound ("VOC") emissions by using reduced emissions completions equipment (otherwise known as "green completions" equipment) from fracked wells.  The green completions equipment (which is already required in certain states) allows the natural gas and other related emissions that are typically released during the well completion process to be captured and reused while at the same time also reducing NOx emissions that are typical byproducts of combustion.  Until January 1, 2015, VOC emissions from fracked wells will need to be flared during the well completion period.

According to U.S. EPA, it delayed the requirement to capture the VOC emissions until 2015 in response to industry comments that indicate that there currently are an insufficient number of the "green completions" equipment available to industry.  Comments submitted by the American Petroleum Institute noted that there currently are only about 300 sets of "green completion" equipment available but that about 1,000 new sets would be needed in order for industry to fully comply with the new rule.  Certain exploratory wells and low-pressure wells are exempted from the requirement to use green completions equipment. 

The new rules also impose specific notification and reporting requirements.  For example, notification must be provided to U.S. EPA and/or state/local air agencies no later than two days before well completion work begins.  Well owners/operators must also submit annual reports detailing all well completions for the prior year.  The reports must be certified by a senior company official.

For further information on these new regulations, click here.