The Evolution of AER’s Directive 60

Alberta Energy Regulator’s (AER) Directive 60 concerns the regulations regarding the upstream petroleum industry’s flaring, incinerating and venting needs.

The precursor of AER – EUB (Alberta Energy and Utilities Board) – and the precursor of Alberta Environments and Parks (AEP) – Alberta Environment – supported the Alberta Research Council’s research on flaring due to concerns. Their findings revealed that flare stacks were not as efficient at eliminating waste gas as was previously thought, leaving the products of incomplete combustion in the air.

The EUB then consulted with stakeholders in the industry, the public and other government sectors and reviewed existing policies on using (conserving) associated gas rather than flaring it. The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) brought the issue of flaring to the Clean Air Strategic Alliance’s (CASA) board of directors in November 1996. It established a Flaring Project Team in February 1997 to develop recommendations to address potential and observed impacts of flaring. In its final report in 1998, the team recommended a framework for gas flaring management and a decision tree process for reducing flaring.

In 1999, the first edition of Directive 60 came out with the solution gas management framework and the decision tree process. It recommended short term gas flaring reductions of 15% and 25% by the end of 2000 and 2001, respectively. It also defined the maximum limits on the total volume of solution gas that could be flared at individual sites if these targets were not met.

In 2000, a new CASA Flaring/Venting Project Team convened to review progress made on the earlier recommendations as well as make further recommendations on flaring, incineration, and venting which they published in a report in 2002. This report stated that the solution gas management framework and the flare reduction targets implemented by the upstream petroleum industry had resulted in a 53% reduction in flaring compared to 1996.

The team recommended that a similar decision tree process be applied to solution gas venting, well test flaring, and facility flaring. These and other recommendations resulted in a new version of Directive 60 in November 2006.

In 2004, CAPP established the Nonroutine Flaring Task Team (NRFTT) to review dispersion modelling requirements for intermittent and infrequent flaring which published a report that outlines the new regulatory approach and comprehensive plan for managing nonroutine flaring.

The AER supports ongoing research for further reducing flaring, incineration, and venting, the result of which will continue to be part of future editions of Directive 60.

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