The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued updates to its April 2012 oil and natural gas standards for storage tanks, which allow responsible oil and natural gas production while ensuring air emissions are reduced as quickly as possible.
The updates will phase in emission-control deadlines, starting with higher-emitting tanks first, and will provide the time needed to ramp up the production and installation of controls. EPA is making the changes based on information received after the 2012 standards were issued that shows more storage tanks will come online than the agency originally estimated.
Storage tanks that emit six or more tons of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) a year must reduce emissions by 95 percent. Today’s rule establishes two emission control deadlines:
- Tanks that come online after April 12, 2013, are likely to have higher emissions and must control VOC emissions within 60 days or by April 15, 2014, whichever is later.
- Tanks that came online before April 12, 2013, are likely to have lower emissions and must control VOC emissions by April 15, 2015.
The updated standards also establish an alternative emissions limit that would allow owners/operators to remove controls from tanks if they can demonstrate that the tanks emit less than four tons per year of VOC emissions without controls. In addition, the rule streamlines compliance and monitoring requirements for tanks that have already installed controls.
The oil and natural gas industry uses tanks for temporary storage of crude oil, condensate and other liquids, before those liquids are moved to a pipeline, sold or moved for disposal. These storage tanks can be sources of emissions of ozone-forming VOCs, along with several toxic air pollutants, including benzene. This final action does not affect the April 2012 standards for capturing natural gas from hydraulically fractured wells, according to EPA.