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EU Reaches an Agreement to Curb Methane Emissions in Oil and Gas Imports

The European Union is finalising legislation that will impose methane emission limitations on oil and gas imports into Europe beginning in 2030.

The European Union achieved a significant breakthrough on Wednesday, finalizing legislation imposing methane emission limits on oil and gas imports entering Europe from 2030. 

This landmark move aims to pressurize global suppliers to actively curb leaks of this potent greenhouse gas, acknowledging methane as the second-largest contributor to climate change, with an immediate and intense warming impact compared to carbon dioxide.

Stringent Measures Agreed Upon:

After extensive negotiations, representatives from EU member states and the European Parliament reached a consensus to enforce “maximum methane intensity values” on foreign producers supplying fossil fuels into Europe by 2030. 

The council of the EU, representing member states, confirmed this decision, foreseeing a critical shift in regulating emissions from international suppliers.

Foreseen to affect major gas suppliers like the US, Algeria, and Russia, the legislation holds significant repercussions. 

Notably, once the principal pipeline gas supplier to Europe, Russia has been overtaken by Norway, whose gas supply boasts one of the world’s lowest methane intensities. 

Jutta Paulus, the EU Parliament’s co-lead negotiator, emphasized the global implications of these stringent measures, highlighting their potential influence worldwide.

Penalties and Mandatory Compliance:

Paulus underscored the law’s enforcement, detailing financial penalties for importers engaging with non-compliant foreign suppliers. 

The legislation will mandate adherence to the methane standard in supply contracts signed after its enactment, expected later this year, pending final approvals from the European Parliament and EU countries.

Industry Response and Regulation Framework:

While the International Association of Oil & Gas Producers expressed support for a practical EU Methane Regulation, concerns remain regarding uncertainties in the legislation. 

The specifics of the methane emissions limit will be determined by the European Commission before its implementation, along with the introduction of enhanced measurement, reporting, and verification requirements for the oil, gas, and coal sectors.

Environmental groups welcomed the legislation, citing its significance ahead of the COP28 international climate talks in the UAE. 

The regulation emphasizes that climate responsibilities transcend borders and positions the EU as the largest natural gas purchaser to significantly influence global methane emission reductions.

Operational Changes and Timelines:

The legislation also mandates stringent checks for leaks in European oil and gas operations, prohibiting most instances of flaring and venting from 2025 or 2027 based on infrastructure types. 

This measure aims to curb intentional methane release and burning, fostering a more sustainable approach within the industry.

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