Registration deadline for gas-fired stationary internal combustion “engines” in Canada

New federal regulations governing gas-fired “engines” (e.g., compressors) came into force in 2016, and include a July 1, 2017, deadline to register engines manufactured after September 15, 2016, if they are used by key Canadian industrial sectors, and to file a compliance report for engines operated for at least one hour during 2016.

Background

The environment is an area of “shared jurisdiction” under Canada’s Constitution, which means both federal and provincial governments have authority to pass legislation governing environmental matters. While the federal government may legislate directly, particularly concerning issues that cross international or provincial borders, it also plays a coordinating role to assist provinces establish common standards and thresholds. Air quality in Canada is one such area. The national Air Quality Management System (AQMS) is an extensive, federally driven consultation process between federal and provincial governments, as well as industry and environmental organizations.

A subset of the AQMS work is emissions thresholds established by the Base Level Industrial Emission Requirements (BLIERS) program. These thresholds are then implemented, potentially subject to modifications, by either the federal government or provincial governments. Developing standards under BLIERS can take a long time, as industry considers and reports on the potential effects of new restrictions and the potential capabilities of new technologies are assessed.

BLIERS has included work on air pollutants emitted by things such as boilers, heaters and compressors. The federal government implemented the Multi-Sector Air Pollutants Regulations (Regulations) in 2016 under the authority of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999. The government published draft regulations in 2014 and solicited industry and stakeholder comments on them.

Nitrogen oxide emissions limits

Part 2 of the Regulations sets limits on nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions from “stationary spark-ignition engines” combusting “gaseous fuel” (i.e., fuel that is a gas at room temperature) at industrial facilities. “Pre-existing” engines are those manufactured before September 15, 2016. “Modern” engines are all other engines, including those without documentation that establishes their manufacturing date.

The Regulations subject both classes of engine to NOx “emissions intensity” limits, and prescribe how those limits are calculated. The limit for modern engines is stricter than for pre-existing engines, although the limit for the latter becomes more stringent with time. Neither type of engine is subject to these limits if records show the fuel burned was at least 50% synthetic gas or still gas (the latter is gas produced by distillation, cracking or oil sands upgrading).

Registration

If a modern engine has a rated brake power of at least 75kW, it must be registered with Environment and Climate Change Canada by July 1, 2017, if used in one of the following industrial sectors:

  • oil and gas facilities (including asphalt refineries);

  • oil sands facilities;

  • petroleum refineries;

  • chemicals facilities;

  • nitrogen-based fertilizer facilities;

  • pulp and paper facilities;

  • base metals facilities;

  • potash facilities;

  • alumina facilities and aluminum facilities;

  • power plants;

  • iron, steel and ilmenite facilities;

  • iron ore pelletizing facilities; and

  • cement manufacturing facilities.

The Regulations prescribe a form of spreadsheet that must be used to submit both a registration and a compliance report.

“Pre-existing” engines are only regulated if they are in oil and gas facilities (excluding asphalt refineries). Pre-existing engines can be exempted from regulation for three years if the owner’s gross revenue (including that of affiliates) is less than $5 million, the brake power is less than 1 MW, and the engine is registered. The exemption can be extended by a further three years if those conditions continue and a further registration is made.

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