EPA Releases Testing, Reporting and Compliance Deadlines for Oil and Gas Storage Tanks

by Bracewell LLP

On September 23rd, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published in the Federal Register final amendments to sections of its 2012 New Source Performance Standard OOOO (NSPS OOOO) applicable to storage vessels used in the production, processing, transmission and storage of oil and natural gas. 78 Fed. Reg. 58415. Although the amendments contain a number of helpful changes sought by industry, they also include fast-approaching deadlines for operators of Class I vessels (see below) to test their VOC emissions (October 15, 2013) and report the results to EPA (January 15, 2014).

NSPS OOOO applies to a range of processes and equipment in the upstream and midstream oil-and-gas sectors (including natural gas wells). These amendments specifically modify the regulations applicable to storage tanks with a potential to emit (PTE) six or more tons per year (TPY) of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). If these tanks were constructed or modified after August 23, 2011, they are subject to NSPS OOOO and must achieve a 95% reduction in VOC emissions by the applicable compliance date. These amendments respond to industry petitions EPA received last year after initially promulgating the NSPS OOOO regulations on August 23, 2012. Among other things, industry participants expressed concerns regarding EPA’s initial compliance schedule because of the limited supply of available control devices, as well as certain ambiguities in the regulatory language.

To address the control supply issue, EPA’s amendments stagger the compliance deadlines for tanks subject to NSPS OOOO based on their age. The amendments create two categories of tanks—Class I and Class II. Class I includes all tanks constructed or modified between August 23, 2011 (the standard’s initial proposal date) and April 12, 2013 (the amendments’ proposal date). Class II includes all tanks constructed or modified after April 12, 2013. Owners of Class I tanks must achieve compliance with NSPS OOOO by April 15, 2015. Owners of Class II tanks must achieve compliance by April 15, 2014.

Although the amendments give operators of Class I tanks more time to meet the standard, they have a more immediate compliance duty. Specifically, operators with tanks in their inventories potentially subject to NSPS OOOO must test VOC emissions from those tanks by October 15, 2013 to determine whether they exceed the six TPY threshold. In addition, operators must submit initial notifications of the test results to EPA by January 15, 2014, to advise EPA and other regulatory agencies of the presence of the subject facilities. Per the amendments, this initial notification may be combined with the initial annual report already required by NSPS OOOO.

As we discussed in a post last month on the Energy Legal Blog, the amendments include a number of other additions that provide welcome flexibility in achieving the standards—provisions allowing operators to account for existing, non-federally enforceable control mechanisms in calculating the vessel’s PTE, to reduce a vessel’s PTE by routing emissions to a facility flare, or avoid controls by providing records showing that actual emissions over the previous 12 months have been less than four TPY, among other changes.

Nonetheless, the storage vessel provisions—like the remainder of NSPS OOOO—contain a complex array of requirements and conditions, including various recordkeeping, reporting and timing requirements above and beyond the basic emissions standards. Companies should carefully scrutinize the regulations and continually monitor for compliance with all aspects of these regulations.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Bracewell LLP | Attorney Advertising

Written by:

Bracewell LLP

Bracewell LLP on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.


JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at info@jdsupra.com. In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at: info@jdsupra.com.

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.