Category Archives: emissions

Chasing a fossil-fuel fugitive

My Clean Break column today takes a look at “fugitive” emissions — typically methane — from the natural gas and oil sectors in Canada. I like to call them the industry’s dirty not-so-little secret, because when we think of fossil fuels we think mostly about the emissions that result from their combustion. But not as much, if any, public attention has been drawn to the unintentional (i.e. leaks) and intentional (i.e. venting) of methane at processing facilities and along pipeline infrastructure. Fugitive emissions from Canada’s oil and gas sectors in 2006 amounted to the equivalent of about 60 megatonnes of CO2, up 65 per cent since 1990. Surprisingly, this represents nearly 8 per cent of all greenhouse gas emissions in Canada. As you’ll read from the column, the biggest problem is a lack of regulation and ability to detect these emissions. Once that’s solved, often it’s just a matter of tightening a bolt.