BLM Delays Venting and Flaring Rule Compliance to 2019
On Friday, December 8, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) published a final rule with a one-year delay of compliance after various attempts to end or delay the 2016 rule designed to restrict methane emissions. 

The 2016 “Water Prevention, Production Subject to Royalties, and Resource Conservation” federal rule called to reduce waste of natural gas from venting, flaring, and leaks during oil and natural gas production activities, with a compliance deadline in January 2018. 

This rule has been viewed as overly burdensome to operators, particularly for marginal or low-producing wells. Therefore, the BLM agreed to review the rule and has now extended its compliance deadline to 2019 as part of the review process.

What It Means
Compliance with some major provisions of the venting and flaring rule has a new effective date of January 17, 2019. The rule itself has not yet changed; however, the delay gives the BLM time to re-evaluate the rule to develop an appropriate revision. 

The list below notes several important sections of the rule that will not go into effect until January 2019:
  • Leak detection and repair (LDAR) control requirements
  • Waste Minimization Plans
  • Gas capture requirements
  • Drilling and well completion control requirements
  • Storage tank, pneumatic controller, and pneumatic pump control requirements
Operators should continue to comply with several requirements that were immediately effective when the rule was published in 2016, including well-testing requirements, emergency flaring requirements, avoidably lost gas determinations, prohibition of venting, lost production subject to royalties, and BLM-imposed production restrictions. 

There will likely continue to be litigation over both the one-year delay and the forthcoming revisions to this regulation.  

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