The oil and gas industry can collaborate with regulators in implementing cost-effective strategies to reduce methane emissions, New Mexico’s top energy group said this week.
The New Mexico Oil and Gas Association (NMOGA) in its Methane Mitigation Roadmap identified the “four most reported sources of methane emissions from oil and natural gas production.”
Using Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) data, NMOGA said it was offering specific regulatory suggestions and considerations “based on proven industry experience,” best available science and peer-reviewed data to reduce emissions.
“There is nothing we value more than safeguarding the people and places we care about the most, and that means working continuously to protect the environment and reduce and control methane emissions. It’s a responsibility we take personally,” said NMOGA Executive Director Ryan Flynn.
“We know that we have a responsibility to reduce our methane emissions, and this report underscores that we are in fact reducing emissions through responsible operations. We will continue collaborating with willing partners in the public and private sector, while investing in advanced technology and innovation to achieve even greater reductions in methane emissions.”
NMOGA’s mitigation proposals come shortly after Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, a Democrat, called for developing an "enforceable regulatory framework" to reduce oil and gas methane emissions. The goal is to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by at least 45% by 2030.
NMOGA said its new report is the first-ever analysis of New Mexico-based EPA GHG reporting program data.
From 2011-2017, the industry group said New Mexico methane emissions from oil and natural gas production decreased by 51%, or from 378,025 metric tons methane to 182,924. Over the same period, combined oil and gas output climbed 31% to 392,176 boe.
“The San Juan Basin reported the most dramatic decline, as methane emissions collapsed by 55%, while combined oil and natural gas production fell 24%,” NMOGA researchers noted. In New Mexico’s portion of the Permian Basin, “methane emissions have fallen 35% while production has soared 101%.”
The industry roadmap issued recommendations for the “four highest reported sources of methane emissions,” which it said were fugitive emissions, storage tanks, pneumatic devices and liquids unloading operations.
“With appropriate regulatory flexibility,” NMOGA outlined support for annual leak detection and repair, with exemptions for low producing wells/facilities not required to obtain a Notice of Intent; storage vessel control requirements with appropriate thresholds; phasing out high-bleed pneumatic controllers unless required for safety function; and onsite monitoring of manual liquids unloading operations.
NMOGA suggested that regulators should recognize that “”many equipment sources” already are subject to federal New Source Performance Standards. “Additional layers of state regulations will impose further requirements and costs without attendant emission reductions,” according to the report.
Following Lujan Grisham’s lead, the New Mexico Environment Department and New Mexico Energy, Minerals, and Natural Resources Department have initiated a process to develop strategies to reduce emissions, and joint stakeholder engagement meetings are planned later this summer in Farmington, Albuquerque and Carlsbad.
“New Mexico’s future shines brighter with a strong oil and natural gas industry,” NMOGA Chair Claire Chase of Mack Energy Corp. said. “We are committed to safely and responsibly producing the energy we need along with critical funds and tax revenue that supports our communities, public schools and first responders. A smart and balanced regulatory framework allows us to grow our economy and protect our environment at the same time.”