Legislation, Well integrity

“Dear Aunty, are methane leaks regulated?”

Oh my, of course they are dears.

Regulation 13 (1) (b) of the DCR (which you’ll remember from last time, cherubs) states that operators must ensure the “risks to the health and safety of persons from it [the well], or in strata to which it is connected, are as low as reasonably practicable”.

In this case, that obviously extends to natural gas which could be in the well itself or outside the well in the strata (otherwise known as rocks to most of us, my lovelies) and means that operators have to build and operate their wells so this doesn’t escape to cause us harm.

But there are other regulations that also play a part.

The Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002

These, sweeties, place a raft of other duties on operators but key to methane leaks are found in regulation 6. To make it easier to read here and focus on the relevant phrases, I’ve omitted some of the text but you can find the rest at the link above:

Elimination or reduction of risks from dangerous substances

6.—(1) Every employer shall ensure that risk is either eliminated or reduced so far as is reasonably practicable.

(3) Where it is not reasonably practicable to eliminate risk pursuant to paragraphs (1) and (2), the employer shall, so far as is reasonably practicable, apply measures, consistent with the risk assessment and appropriate to the nature of the activity or operation—

(a) to control risks, including the measures specified in paragraph (4); and
(b) to mitigate the detrimental effects of a fire or explosion or the other harmful physical effects arising from dangerous substances, including the measures specified in paragraph (5).

(4) The following measures are, in order of priority, those specified for the purposes of paragraph (3)(a)—

(b)the avoidance or minimising of the release of a dangerous substance;
(c)the control of the release of a dangerous substance at source;
(d)the prevention of the formation of an explosive atmosphere, including the application of appropriate ventilation;

In a nutshell flowerpots, methane gas is flammable and therefore captured by these regulations as a ‘dangerous substance’. Operators therefore have a duty to avoid or minimise the release of methane and to control it at source.

So, cupcakes, leaks of methane are most definitely regulated and shouldn’t be a concern. Apart from that, though, don’t forget that the gas has a value to operators – if they let it escape, they can’t sell it to you and I, and that would rather defeat the object my lovelies.

Until next time xxx

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