Oil and Gas Air Permitting in Louisiana
May 22, 2018

The Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ) is the environmental agency that administers air quality regulations and permitting programs in Louisiana. Oil and gas (O&G) production facilities are required to obtain, from the LDEQ, an air permit prior to construction with some exemptions available.

Below is a summary of some key things to know about the LDEQ air permitting process for O&G operations. Consult the LDEQ rules or contact the LDEQ Office of Environmental Services - Air Quality section for details for O&G air permitting. The focus of this article is minor source air permitting rules for oil and gas operations.

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Activities Requiring an Air Permit and Authorization Types

An air permit is required for the construction and operation of a new oil and gas facility and for modifications to an existing facility. The LDEQ’s air permit serves as the approval for both construction and operation of a facility.

An air permit is required to be approved by the LDEQ prior to beginning construction of the facility and prior to implementing modifications to an existing facility. Some exceptions to this are available to O&G facilities permitted with a Minor Source Oil and Gas (MSOG) air permit.

Also, some activities and facilities are exempt from permitting based on Louisiana Statues and LDEQ regulatory exemptions.

For more information from LDEQ see link: Do I Need an Air Permit?

Act 547 Air Permit Exemptions

Known as “Act 547”, Senate Bill No. 384 of the 2008 Regular Session became effective on August 15, 2008. Act 547 allows exemptions from permitting if the following criteria are met.

  • Facility potential to emit (PTE) is less than or equal to 5 tons per year of any criteria pollutant (i.e., NOx, CO, VOCs, SO2, PM2.5, PM10)
  • Facility PTE is less than 15 tons per year for all regulated air pollutants
  • Facility PTE is less than the minimum emission rate of toxic air pollutants (e.g., n-hexane, benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylenes). See LAC33:III.5112, Table 51.1.
  • Facility is not required to obtain an air permit under Title V of Clean Air Act

No air permit application or other notification is required to be submitted to the LDEQ for an ACT 547 exemption. A company can elect to submit a report to the LDEQ with demonstration of how their facility meets Act 547 exemption. To ensure a facility meets the Act 547 a company may want to discuss the specific project with the LDEQ Air Permits section.

Facilities claiming this exemption must maintain records demonstrating how the exemption is met on an ongoing basis. This information should be available to an LDEQ inspector if requested.

Small Source Air Permit Exemptions

If not exempt as described in ACT 547, a facility may still qualify for a small source exemption under LAC 33:III.501.B.4. This type of exemption requires a completion and submittal of the LDEQ “Application for Approval of Miscellaneous Permitting Actions” form and associated fee (Fee Code = 2010).

A minor source facility may obtain an exemption from permitting if all of the following are met:

  1. Facility emits or has the potential to emit no more than 5 tons per year of any regulated pollutant
  2. Facility emits or has the potential to emit less than the minimum emission rates listed in LAC 33:III.5112, Table 51.1, for each Louisiana toxic air pollutant
  3. No enforceable permit conditions are necessary to ensure compliance with any applicable requirement (e.g., limiting throughput or hours of operation, compliance with an NSPS)
  4. No public notice is required for any permitting or other activity at the source.

Air Permit Types for O&G Operations

The types of LDEQ air permits available include:

  • General Minor Source Oil and Gas (MSOG) Air Permit
  • Individual Minor Source Air Permit (used for facilities not qualifying for MSOG or electing an individual air permit)
  • Regulatory Permit (a type of general permit)
  • Miscellaneous Air Permitting Activities
  • Major Source Title V/Part 70 Permit (general operating permit and individual permit)
  • Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) Permit (individual permit only)
  • Nonattainment New Source Review (NNSR) Permit (Baton Rouge nonattainment area)

MSOG General Air Permit

Many companies permit O&G facilities, when feasible, as minor source using the MSOG general air permit. An MSOG air permit is typically used when the facility meets all requirements specified in the permit. If an oil and gas facility does not qualify for the MSOG, then they can apply for an Individual Minor Source Air Permit.

Pros for Permitting with MSOG

  1. New facilities can begin construction within 14 days after the date the application submitted to the LDEQ provided total facility emissions are less than or equal to 47.1 tons NOx/year; 1.7 tons benzene/year; 5.9 tons formaldehyde/year.
  2. Modifications to existing MSOG permitted facilities can made without prior written approval from the LDEQ provided the facility submits an air permit application and application fee for the modification within ten (10) calendar days after making the modification. To qualify for this, total facility emissions must be less than or equal to 47.1 tons NOx/year; 1.7 tons benzene/year; 5.9 tons formaldehyde/year.
  3. “In Kind” replacement of equipment is allowed without submitting a notification or application to the LDEQ.
  4. No public notice required.

Cons for Permitting with MSOG

  1. For facilities located in certain parishes, an annual emission inventory (LAC 33:III.919) is required to be submitted to the LDEQ, even though the facilities are not major sources of air pollutants. This includes MSOG permitted facilities located in parishes of the Baton Rouge Nonattainment Area (i.e., Ascension, East Baton Rouge, Iberville, Livingston, and West Baton Rouge) and adjoining parishes (i.e., Ascension, Iberia, St. Helena, Tangipahoa, Assumption, Iberville, St. James, West Feliciana, East Baton Rouge, Livingston, St. John the Baptist, West Baton Rouge, East Feliciana, Pointe Coupee, St. Martin).
  2. Less flexibility in operations since the facility must meet all requirements of the MSOG air permit.

Individual Air Permits

Individual air permits are typically obtained when:

  1. Facility does not meet the MSOG air permit requirements.
  2. Facility wants more flexibility than afforded by the MSOG air permit.
  3. Minor source facilities in the Baton Rouge nonattainment area parishes and MSOG listed adjoining parishes may want an individual air permit so that they can avoid requirement to submit an annual air emissions inventory (LAC33:III.918). See “Cons for Permitting with MSOG, Item 1.”
  4. Facility does not need the MSOG’s fast-track approval of new construction and approval of modifications. See “Pros for Permitting with MSOG, Items 1 and 2.

Regulatory Air Permits

Regulatory permits that are typically used for by oil and gas operators include the following activities:

  • Regulatory Permit for Oil and Gas Well Testing (LAC 33:III.307).
    • This permit is used for venting and flaring of natural gas during well testing – as specified by the permit. The LDEQ instructions for the permit application states, “Releases of natural gas less than 1.0 MM cubic feet require no controls or notification to LDEQ.”
  • Regulatory Permit for Release of Natural Gas from Pipelines and Associated Equipment (LAC 33:III.309).
  • Regulatory Permit for Stationary Internal Combustion Engines (LAC 33:III.311).
    • Can be used provided a major source of air emissions does not result from the operation of the engine.
    • A benefit of this permit is that it allows the permitting of engines (drivers for compressors, generators, pumps) at a permitted facility without modifying the existing facility air permit. Also, this permit can be used as a stand-alone air permit for engines.

Application for Approval of Miscellaneous Air Permitting Activities

The Application for Approval of Miscellaneous Air Permitting Activities form can be completed when applying for the following actions:

  • Small Source Exemption
  • Administrative Amendment
  • Application Withdrawal
  • Authorization to Construct / Approval to Operate
  • Change of Tank Service
  • Exemption to Test
  • Letter of Response / Letter of No Objection
  • Permit Rescission
  • Relocation of a Portable Facility

Link to LDEQ air permitting forms: http://deq.louisiana.gov/page/air-permit-applications

Air Permitting Process for Oil and Gas Facilities  

  1. Determine the type of air permit needed.
  2. Prepare air permit application using the appropriate LDEQ forms. Also see HY-BON/EDI Blog topic on air permitting tips.
  3. Submit application to the LDEQ. Include with the application submittal, payment of the appropriate permit application fee. The application is not complete unless the correct fee is submitted. See fee schedule in LAC 33:III.Chapter 2. Rules and Regulations for the Fee System of the Air Quality Control Programs.
  4. Comply with any public notice requirements (e.g., Title V/Part 70, PSD, nonattainment NSR permits).
  5. Respond to any LDEQ questions regarding application submitted.
  6. The LDEQ may send to the permittee a draft copy of the permit for review prior to finalizing the air permit. 
  7. After LDEQ approval, the facility operator will be sent a copy of the final air permit.

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