Proposal for an EU regulation on methane emissions reduction in the energy sector

Last updated: 1 February 2024

As laid out in the EU Methane Strategy, the European Commission presented its first-ever EU legislative proposal for a regulation on methane emissions reduction in the energy sector. To abate methane emissions, the regulation introduces a stricter legal framework in the gas, oil and coal sectors, in order to limit methane leaks, venting and flaring.

The proposal establishes an enhanced monitoring, reporting and verification regime (MRV) that requires all operators to submit annual reports of their source-level methane emissions. Initially, these reports would be based on emissions factors, but within 36 months of entry into force of the regulation, operators would be required to submit direct measurements of source-level methane emissions complemented by site-level measurements to facilitate verification.

The regulation would also impose direct requirements on operators to mitigate emissions.  The regulation establishes a leak detection and repair (LDAR) requirement whereby all operators must carry out quarterly surveys and replace or repair any components found to be emitting 500 ppm or more of methane. 

The regulation also limits venting to certain circumstances, including emergencies and during certain processes and procedures like liquids unloading, blow-downs and from equipment that vents during normal operations. Flaring is limited only to circumstances where utilisation or re-injection is not feasible for reasons other than economic considerations.  For instances of venting or flaring caused by emergency or malfunction, operators must notify the authorities within 48 hours.

For coal, the regulation establishes measurement requirements for underground coal mines and prohibits venting and flaring of methane from up to certain thresholds.

For closed, abandoned, and inactive wells and mines, the regulation requires public reporting of the inventory of inactive wells and mines and requires the installation of measurement equipment to quantify emissions.  Member states are required to develop mitigation plans to determine priority actions for reducing emissions from inactive sites.

With respect to imports, the regulation requires importers to submit information about the source of oil and gas and information about regulatory or voluntary measures to measure and mitigate emissions. The Commission is directed to consider potential amendments to the Regulation to strengthen requirements applicable to importers by the end of 2025.

The legislation assigns to the International Methane Emissions Observatory the task of aggregating, verifying and reporting emissions data for the bloc.

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