A recent report published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology found that heavy oil facilities in Saskatchewan release almost four times the amount of a powerful greenhouse gas than they report to the government.
Debby Westerman, the executive director of Resource Management with the Ministry of Energy and Resources, said they plan to look further into the report.
“We appreciate the focus, and we are planning to dig into it deeper and see how we can benefit from the information.”
The report used the latest airborne technology and ground-based sensors to measure methane emissions from 962 heavy oil facilities in Saskatchewan that use the so-called CHOPS technology, which uses sand to help force oil to the surface.
They found those sites released 3.9 times as much methane as reported to government inventories.
Westerman said they have over 30,000 oil wells in the province, so more research must be done.
“This type of research takes a snapshot of emissions at a certain time. It was applied to a small subset of sites in Saskatchewan, how that makes a big difference,” she said. “We want to see how they captured that data and how they applied it to the entire set of wells.”
She said that if it is found that companies are not being accurate in their numbers,
“I think the most useful thing out of these studies is it’s telling us where a focus could be at,” she said. “We will do our own work to determine if there are deficiencies in that area,” Westerman said. “It might be revising some of our requirements, and it might be going out and actually sitting deficiencies at an inspection and forcing companies to make changes where we find deficiencies.”
Westerman added that they always welcome Saskatchewan-based research, which she noted there isn’t much of.