New Well Decommissioning Standard Strengthens Effort to Reduce Emissions
John D. Siciliano
Posted June 11, 2021
Industry support for the administration’s goal of a lower-carbon future is more than just talk. API’s new Climate Action Framework spells out the specific action the industry is taking to address the risks of climate change while supplying the energy Americans rely on every day. This week, API announced its publication of a new standard, API Recommended Practice (RP) 65-3, on properly decommissioning and sealing wells as one of those actions to combat climate change.
Certainly, the administration has identified decommissioning old natural gas and oil wells as one of its priorities for reducing carbon emissions in its push for an infrastructure package. RP 65-3 provides technical guidance for doing the job correctly. Debra Phillips, API senior vice president for Global Industry Services:
“This standard represents the industry’s ongoing commitment to … protect the environment and surrounding communities. RP 65-3 builds upon strong API standards already in place for proper well execution and provides expanded guidance for companies to ensure safety throughout this important end-of-life stage of industry operations.”
API released this first-of-a-kind standard just before talks broke down between the president and Capitol Hill lawmakers on a comprehensive infrastructure bill. The bill would include funding for remediation of natural gas and oil wells and specifically, to reduce methane emissions.
As Politico reported, the standard appears to jibe with Biden’s infrastructure pledge:
“The American Petroleum Institute unveiled … a new industry standard for plugging old oil and gas wells, as Biden continues to make sealing up the old wells a cornerstone of his pledge to both reduce methane emissions and create jobs for union workers.”
While the infrastructure bill remains unresolved, RP 65-3 is an important industry-led step to address this key issue. Frank Macchiarola, API senior vice president of Policy, Economics and Regulatory Affairs:
“RP 65-3 upholds state and regional environmental goals, while also supporting federal policy objectives included in the administration’s latest infrastructure plan to plug orphan wells. This standard is an essential part of meeting safety and environmental targets and builds upon our industry’s commitment to address the risks of climate change and further reduce methane and other GHG emissions from operations.”
The standard also includes elements that states and local authorities can use to help them create a more uniform means of addressing well closures. RP 65-3 can resolve the patchwork of procedures for old or end-of-life wells that differ from region to region. It does this by providing one technical approach to address the issue across jurisdictions.
RP 65-3 is the newest industry initiative to take actions that can produce meaningful reductions in emissions. API’s Climate Action Framework noted above, including its efforts to reduce methane emissions from industry operations through The Environmental Partnership and other industry-led efforts are aimed at reducing emissions, improving environmental performance and making strides in the fight against climate change.
These and other efforts are intended to build on the industry’s progress to reduce emissions across the supply chain, as demonstrated by 2020 GHG reductions. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), industry actions are playing an important role in reducing emissions:
Voluntary initiatives, often industry-led, have played important roles in developing new approaches to [methane] abatement and in demonstrating what is possible and practicable.
The natural gas and oil Industry supports climate goals and – as the publishing of RP 65-3 demonstrates – we’re not waiting for Washington to act.
About The Author
John Siciliano is a writer for API Global Industry Services’ Marketing and Communications Department. He joined API after 14 years as an energy and environment reporter and editor. Most recently, he was senior energy and environment writer for the Washington Examiner and the Daily on Energy newsletter. He began full-time reporting in Washington in 2001 as a foreign affairs correspondent, also covering national security and defense. His coverage of the Mideast and Saudi Arabia led him to become a full-time energy reporter. He earned a bachelors degree in psychology from Ohio Northern University, and he also holds a Masters of Science degree in education from the Franciscan University of Steubenville.
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