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EU Approves Regulation Setting a Limit on Methane Emissions from Gas Imports

A regulation on monitoring and cutting methane emissions was approved by the Council. It is included in the “Fit for 55” package.

New guidelines for measuring, disclosing, and confirming methane emissions in the energy industry are brought about by the rule. Methane emissions are to be prevented by mitigation techniques including finding and fixing methane leaks and restricting venting and flaring. Transparency about methane emissions from coal, gas, and oil imports into the EU will be guaranteed by global monitoring instruments.

Methane is the second most significant greenhouse gas and is a short-lived climatic pollutant that can be up to 30 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. Methane emissions from the coal, gas, and oil industries must be reduced if we are to fulfill the targets set forth in the Paris Agreement, which call for keeping global warming to 1.5°C and reaching climate neutrality by 2050. Through this law, emissions throughout various value chains will be properly monitored and addressed.

Methane emissions at the source level must be measured by operators, who must also prepare monitoring reports that independent, qualified verifiers will review.

To mitigate potential hazards to public health and the environment from methane emissions, member states will keep an inventory of all wells and update it on a regular basis. This inventory will also include mitigation measures for wells that are currently inactive. Measurements and monitoring of emissions from coal mines that have been closed or abandoned for less than 70 years will also be conducted, as methane leakage persists long after production has stopped.

Periodic inspections by national authorities will be used to verify that operators are adhering to the regulations and to take corrective action if needed.

Operators will need to find and fix methane leaks in accordance with the new regulations. At certain periods, operators of various types of infrastructure will need to conduct surveys for methane leakage.

After a methane leak is detected, operators have five days to either replace or repair any component that is above a particular level. The new regulations stipulate a 30-day window for a complete repair.

Furthermore, by 2025 and 2027, respectively, the legislation will prohibit the venting and flaring of methane from drainage stations and ventilation shafts, unless absolutely required in the case of an emergency or malfunction.

Additionally, methane emissions from energy imports into the EU will be tracked. The new regulations will boost the transparency of methane emissions from coal, gas, and oil imports into the EU by introducing worldwide monitoring instruments.

On the twentieth day after it is published in the EU Official Journal, the rule will come into effect. In 2028, the Commission will assess how the rule was implemented, taking into account the degree of emissions reduction that was attained.

In December 2021, the Commission—led by Energy Commissioner presented the proposal for a rule on the energy sector’s reduction of methane emissions. It is a component of the “Fit for 55” legislation package, which attempts to achieve climate neutrality in the EU by 2050, and builds upon the strategic vision outlined in the EU methane strategy in 2020.