Dec 2 (Reuters) - The Biden administration on Saturday unveiled final rules aimed at cracking down on U.S. oil and gas industry releases of methane, part of a global plan to rein in emissions that contribute to climate change.

The rules, two years in the making, were announced by U.S. officials at the United Nations COP28 climate change conference in Dubai. The United States and other nations attending the summit were expected to detail how they will achieve a 150-country pledge made two years ago to slash methane emissions by 30% from 2020 levels by 2030.

Methane tends to leak into the atmosphere undetected from drill sites, gas pipelines and other oil and gas equipment. It has more warming potential than carbon dioxide and breaks down in the atmosphere faster, so reining in methane emissions can have a more immediate impact on limiting climate change.

"On day one, President Biden restored America's critical role as the global leader in confronting climate change, and today we've backed up that commitment with strong action," U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan said in a statement.

EPA's new policies would ban routine flaring of natural gas produced by newly drilled oil wells, require oil companies to monitor for leaks from well sites and compressor stations and establishes a program to use third party remote sensing to detect large methane releases from so-called "super emitters," the agency said in a statement.

The rules would prevent an estimated 58 million tons of methane from reaching the atmosphere between 2024 and 2038 -- nearly the equivalent of all the carbon dioxide emissions from the power sector in the year 2021, EPA added.

Environmental groups praised the rules.

"Strong methane standards are essential to curb climate pollution and better protect the health and safety of workers and communities living near fossil fuel extraction," Earthjustice's vice president of litigation for climate and energy, Jill Tauber, said in a statement.

The rule will produce climate and health benefits of up to $7.6 billion a year through 2038, EPA said. It will also increase recovery of up to $13 billion of natural gas over the time period.

The rule differs somewhat from draft proposals EPA released in 2021 and 2022, in part by giving the industry more time to comply.

The agency also tweaked the Super Emitter Program so that third parties send information on methane leaks to EPA directly for verification. Previously they would have been able to send the information directly to companies, a provision the oil and gas industry said would put too much power in the hands of environmental groups that search for methane leaks.

The American Petroleum Institute, an oil and gas industry trade group, said it was reviewing the rule.

"To be truly effective, this rule must balance emissions reductions with the need to continue meeting rising energy demand," Dustin Meyer, API senior vice president of policy, economics and regulatory affairs, said in a statement. (Reporting by Nichola Groom; editing by Diane Craft)