How New Methane Regulations Affect Design and Operating Cost

Most off-grid wellsites rely on fuel gas driven pneumatics for controlling flow. These devices are prolific throughout the industry because in the past, they have been the most cost-effective option.

New regulations in Alberta and British Columbia will impact design and operating costs for pneumatic devices. Understanding the implications of the regulatory changes requires a look at the difference between steady state and dynamic venting.

Steady state venting is a continuous flow of gas by a controller or positioner to measure a variable, such as pressure or fluid level. Any controller or positioner that emits less 0.17 m3/hr (6 scf/hr) is considered “low bleed”.

Dynamic venting happens when gas is used by the controller or positioner to physically move a valve. Dynamic vent rates depend on the size of the actuator, force required, and frequency of valve motion. Dynamic venting can be 15 to 20 times higher than steady state venting.

Changes to Directive 60, coming in to force in Alberta on January 1, 2022, prohibit methane venting from 90% of pneumatic devices installed on new wellsites. By January 1, 2023, Producers will be required to retrofit all existing pneumatic devices to be low bleed or no bleed (instrument air).

Producers in Alberta who do the retrofits early will be rewarded through generation of carbon credits until January 1, 2023. In the example above, a high to low bleed conversion will generate approximately $500/yr per device while an instrument air conversion will generate approximately $9,100/yr per device in carbon credit revenue (2020 pricing).

New BC regulations, more stringent than those in Alberta, require that no methane is vented through pneumatics on any site built after January 1, 2021.  By January 1, 2022, Producers must ensure that the total venting from any pneumatic device, including both static and dynamic, must be below 0.17 m³/day. In most cases this will not be possible to accomplish with low bleed devices due to the dynamic bleed component.

In BC Producers will save carbon tax once venting is eliminated. A change to instrument air in the above example will save approximately $1,600 /yr (2020 pricing).

Westgen Technologies is a remote power generation company supplying the EPOD – the lowest cost power and instrument air solution for wellsites. For more information about the EPOD or converting your wellsites to instrument air, please contact

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