News Oil & Gas

New Mexico still lacking accurate oil and gas air pollution data

  • New Mexico enacted new rules in 2021 to reduce air pollution from oil and gas production.
  • The State sought to gather emission data from operators so it could set annual goals
  • While many companies did report their emissions properly, several failed to file reports

Oil and gas regulators in New Mexico struggled to gather accurate data on the industry’s methane emissions as the State implemented new regulations intended to prevent natural gas waste and pollution.

In May 2021, the Oil Conservation Division (OCD) of the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department (EMNRD) enacted the new rules after years of public meetings and input from local leaders, environmentalists and industry officials.

The new rules banned routing venting and flaring when excess natural gas is released into the air and set a requirement that all oil and gas operators in New Mexico capture 98 percent of produced gas by 2026.

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To that end, the OCD began collecting emissions data in October 2021 from operators throughout the state, in the southeast Permian Basin region and the northwest San Juan Basin, aiming to set individual baseline emissions rates for each operator and annual goals toward the 2026 requirement.

Adrienne Sandoval was hired in April as the director of New Mexico's Oil Conservation Division.

“The first phase of the rule was really built on data capture and collection,” said OCD Director Adrienne Sandoval. “The OCD needed better data. The first phase was a lot of data collection and reporting.”

Deadlines for companies to submit quarterly reports were Feb. 15 and May 16, and should have included how much gas was vented or flared from wells, completing the data-collecting first phase of the program.

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