While Barnett Shale producers are complying with a Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) inventory of field equipment in the play, they're a little worried about what might be done with the data, which is being gathered as part of air emissions control efforts.

TCEQ is requiring companies that own or operate leases/facilities associated with Barnett Shale gas/oil production, transmission, processing and related activities to provide by May 10 data on their equipment in the field during 2009 that may be responsible for emissions of nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds.

Rich Varela, executive vice president of the Texas Independent Producers and Royalty Owners Association (TIPRO), told NGI he has no problem with TCEQ collecting information on what and where potential sources of energy patch air emissions might be.

"It makes sense that the location of those maybe ought to be identified," he said. "What I am concerned about is what will be done with all this data once it's gathered...We're not sure what that might be.

"Now you know where the equipment is, are they going to make calculations -- or are they going to ask that we make calculations -- to determine the potential emissions? And are those emissions going to be calculated...during some sort of upset condition...I just don't know where they are going; that's my concern...I think I can say that most [TIPRO members] are concerned where this might be leading."

TCEQ would not make available for an interview the staff member responsible for the Barnett Shale Area Special Inventory; however, the agency did respond to NGI's written questions.

The data will be used for modeling emissions control measures, the agency said. "...[E]missions inventories are used as inputs in the photochemical modeling process, which predicts the effectiveness of proposed control measures in meeting the national ambient air quality standards. Emissions inventories are also used for trends analyses in state implementation plan development as required by the federal Clean Air Act."

The agency said it is focusing on the Barnett Shale because of the industry's growth in the region and its proximity to the public. It is an area where concern about energy patch air emissions has been an issue (see Daily GPI, Feb. 11).

The information TCEQ is collecting "will be used in evaluating the need for and developing strategic plans that address air quality concerns," it said, "particularly in locations where oil and gas exploration occurs in close proximity to the public."

While Varela said he thought the data gathering might have come in response to a request from the Environmental Protection Agency, TCEQ said that is not the case. The agency also said there are currently no plans to expand the inventory beyond the Barnett Shale. Varela said a statewide inventory would be "burdensome."

Data will be used for air quality planning, air quality modeling and assessment, permitting and toxicology reviews, as well as to improve emissions inventory accuracy for federal reporting requirements, TCEQ said.

The agency has given producers one month to respond to the data request, a timeline that Varela said is a bit short. "All of our members are trying very hard to comply, and I feel confident that they can, but it will be at the expense of many other things that they're doing," he said.

TCEQ said the data being requested already should be in company records and that one month is ample time to comply. The agency said that as of last Monday, 63 entities have responded to the inventory out of 411 requests for information that were mailed.

TCEQ is currently soliciting comments on the draft inventory forms for the second phase of its Barnett Shale inventory. Phase two will collect 2009 annual emissions and related information from oil and gas operations in the Barnett Shale. Comments are due by May 21.

Information about the inventory is available on the TCEQ website.

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