Environmental Protection

EPA Updates Oil and Gas Standards for Storage Tanks

EPA updates oil and gas storage tank standards, requiring tanks that emit six or more tons of VOC annually to reduce emissions 95 percent between April 2014 to 2015 and further allows control removal on tanks that demonstrate emitting less than four tons of VOC annually.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced August 5, 2013 updates issued for the April 2012 oil and natural gas standards for storage tanks. The updates phase in emission control deadlines, starting with higher-emitting tanks, and provides 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 6 or more tons of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) a year must reduce emissions by 95 percent. The EPA established 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; and 
  • 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 allows owners/operators to remove controls from tanks if they demonstrate that the tanks emit less than 4 tons per year of VOC emissions without controls. In addition, the rule streamlines compliance and monitoring requirements for tanks that 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. EPA’s final action does not affect the April 2012 standards for capturing natural gas from hydraulically fractured wells. 

The updates respond to petitions for reconsideration of the 2012 New Source Performance Standards for Oil and Natural Gas Production. Those cost-effective standards rely on proven technologies and best practices to reduce emissions of ozone-forming VOCs and air toxics, including benzene and hexane. Exposure to ozone is linked a variety of health effects, including aggravated asthma, reduced lung function and increased susceptibility to respiratory infections, in addition to increased risk of premature death from heart or lung disease. Benzene and hexane are air toxics, which can cause cancer and other serious health effects.

Read more at: http://www.epa.gov/airquality/oilandgas/actions.html 

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