The European Parliament and EU Council have reached a provisional agreement on a new EU regulation aimed at cutting methane emissions from the EU energy sector, and in its global supply chains.
Welcoming the news, the European Commission said that methane was the second biggest contributor to climate change after carbon dioxide (CO2), as well as a potent air pollutant.
The EU body, which made the proposal in December 2021. described the agreement as “crucial” to reducing the EU’s net greenhouse-gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030.
It will oblige the gas, oil and coal industries to measure, monitor, report and verify their methane emissions, and take action to reduce them.
The regulation aims to stop the avoidable release of methane into the atmosphere, and to minimise leaks of methane by fossil energy companies operating in the EU.
Among its provisions are:
- It requires operators to report regularly to the competent authorities about quantification and measurements of methane emissions at source level,
- It obliges oil and gas companies to carry out regular surveys of their equipment to detect and repair methane leaks on EU territory within specific deadlines,
- It bans routine venting and flaring by the oil and gas sectors, and restricts non-routine venting and flaring to unavoidable circumstances,
- It limits venting from thermal coal mines from 2027, with stricter conditions kicking in after 2031,
- It requires companies in the oil, gas and coal sectors to carry out an inventory of closed, inactive, plugged and abandoned assets, such as wells and mines, to monitor their emissions, and to adopt a plan to mitigate these emissions as soon as possible.
The commission adds that the new regulation also aims to tackle methane emissions linked to the large amount of oil, gas and coal imported into the EU.
It sets up a methane-transparency database, where data on methane emissions reported by importers and EU operators will be made available to the public, while it also requires the commission to establish methane-performance profiles of countries and companies.
From January 2027, the regulation will allow new import contracts for oil, gas and coal to be concluded only under the same monitoring, reporting and verification conditions that are applied to EU producers.
Maroš Šefčovič (executive vice-president of the commission) said: “I look forward to working with the European and international energy industry to ensure that these rules are quickly and effectively implemented.”