June 22, 2024
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EU Imposes Methane Emissions Limits on Oil and Gas Imports by 2030

European Union (EU) countries have approved a new law to regulate methane emissions from oil and gas imports starting in 2030. This move aims to pressure international suppliers to reduce leaks of this potent greenhouse gas.

The new law addresses methane, a key component of natural gas used for power generation and heating. It ranks as the second-largest contributor to climate change after carbon dioxide, exacerbating global warming when released into the atmosphere from leaky oil and gas infrastructure.

According to Reuters, EU agriculture ministers, empowered to approve laws on various topics, granted final approval to the policy during a meeting in Brussels. With only Hungary voting against it, the law is set to take effect soon.

Starting in 2030, the EU will enforce “maximum methane intensity values” on fossil fuels entering its market. The European Commission will establish specific methane limits by that date. Importers failing to comply with these limits may face financial penalties.

These regulations are expected to impact major gas suppliers such as the U.S., Algeria, and Russia. While Moscow’s gas deliveries to Europe decreased following its 2022 invasion of Ukraine, Norway has emerged as a significant supplier, boasting some of the world’s lowest methane intensity levels.

The Biden administration, aligning with the EU’s efforts to curb methane emissions by 30% by 2030, has lauded the EU’s methane law. Last year, the U.S. introduced its own regulations mandating oil companies to limit methane emissions.

Additionally, from 2027 onward, the EU will require new import contracts for oil, gas, and coal to be signed only with foreign producers adhering to methane emissions reporting rules equivalent to those within the EU. These rules mandate European producers to conduct regular checks for methane leaks, with varying timelines depending on the infrastructure type.

The EU policy also prohibits most cases of flaring and venting, practices where oil and gas companies intentionally burn or release excess methane into the atmosphere.

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