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Methane Emissions

Methane is a greenhouse gas that is emitted from human and natural sources, including: wetlands, industrial processes, livestock, electricity generation, and extraction industries such as oil and natural gas development and coal mining.

Methane is the main component of natural gas. By volume, global methane emissions are lower than carbon dioxide emissions. However, methane is more potent in its ability to trap heat in the atmosphere, so it’s important to identify methane emissions and take action to prevent or reduce these emissions.

In Canada’s oil and natural gas industry, methane is released when natural gas is Methane is released when natural gas if flared, vented, or combusted. Methane is also released in leaks (called fugitive emissions) from valves and other equipment used in drilling and production and at gas processing facilities.

Reducing methane emissions is an important way to tackle climate change. British Columbia, Alberta, and Saskatchewan have regulations for flaring and venting, and leak detection and repair at upstream operations. While flaring and venting are necessary as part of routine operations, regulations and industry best practices provide guidance to ensure these activities are controlled and avoided where possible. Learn how industry is reducing methane.

Canadian nature

The federal government worked with provincial and territorial governments to create the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change agreement, which includes a commitment to reduce oil and natural gas methane emissions by 40% to 45% by 2025. In October 2021, Canada committed to a 75% reduction in methane emissions by 2030.

To achieve this ambitious target, industry will need to continue making improvements in processes, equipment, and technology. The industry is researching and developing many innovations, such as the use of solar panels to power pumps, and systems designed to capture vented gas and then using this gas as fuel for other operations. Extensive research is also being done on technologies designed to enhance methane detection, quantification, and mitigation.

In November 2023, the Government of Alberta announced the oil and natural gas industry had achieved the province’s methane emissions reduction target three years early, in 2022.

The target was to reduce methane emissions by 45% from 2012 emission levels by 2025. The industry cut methane emissions by 16.6 million tonnes of CO2e.

The industry is serious about meeting Canada’s commitment to reduce methane emissions from oil and natural gas operations. CAPP supports effective provincial measures, utilizing unique approaches that recognize different operations, to reduce upstream methane emissions to meet a 75% reduction by 2030 from a 2012 benchmark. 

The use of technology is critical to finding innovative ways for reducing emissions. Many new technologies and approaches are being developed and implemented that ensure the oil and natural gas industry can meet methane emission reduction targets effectively and efficiently.

Some examples of new technologies that reduce methane emissions include:

  • Using solar panels to power pumps, eliminating the venting of emissions that result from traditional sources of power.
  • Installing systems at natural gas facilities designed to capture vented gases, including methane. These gases can then be used as fuel, providing a supplemental power source for the facility.
  • New software systems that track emissions at each location to help identify and cut methane emissions.

For details about what actions individual companies are taking, see how we are innovating

Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Climate Positions

How We Are Innovating