Denver-based Crestone Peak Resources is beginning an innovative large-scale pilot to monitor the air quality in real time at oil and natural gas production sites in Colorado.

The Denver-Julesburg (DJ) Basin operator, which primarily works in the Greater Wattenberg play, said the project would be the first by an exploration and production company to commit to continuous emissions testing for most of its production.

In partnership with Project Canary and the Payne Institute for Public Policy at Colorado School of Mines, the pilot is designed to demonstrate the value of using state-of-the-art technology to monitor emissions and improve air quality. Another key objective is to collect environmental data that may reduce methane intensity and emissions from energy production.

“Our work with Project Canary and the Payne Institute is the latest in a series of advancements in air quality and emissions control technology and practices in Colorado’s oil and gas industry,” said Crestone’s David Stewart, who is vice president, environmental, health, safety and regulatory. “This large-scale pilot program will offer further proof-of-concept for the Project Canary monitoring technology, which we believe represents a significant step forward in our industry’s ability to ensure we’re producing the energy that we all use every day in a safe, clean and responsible manner.”

Crestone and Project Canary are working with the Payne Institute to explore a role as an independent steward of collected emissions data.

Crestone plans to initially deploy Project Canary monitoring technology beginning later this month on well sites representing about 80% of production. Data collection would begin once the technology is in place. Crestone noted it has been testing the Project Canary technology successfully on individual well sites in Weld County since November.

“The energy industry is strategically important to the Colorado economy and U.S. energy security,” said Project Canary President Chris Romer. “As a B-Corp, Project Canary is accountable to the double-bottom-line of profit and social good. We are excited about this partnership and thrilled to be selected to participate in Crestone’s proactive efforts for strengthening the energy industry’s transparency and sustainability in Colorado.”

Project Canary provides around-the-clock air quality monitoring that reports emissions data at operating sites every few seconds. The technology originally was developed for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration by Colorado School of Mines graduates to monitor air quality on space stations. It provides accurate data in parts per billion, considered more sensitive than other sensors currently available.

“At the Payne Institute, we take pride in our ability to act as an honest broker and to partner with the private and public sectors to address issues of societal concern related to energy and the environment,” said director Morgan Bazilian, who is a professor of public policy. “We look forward to working with Crestone and Project Canary to take a data-based approach to understanding and managing air quality in connection with oil and gas production.”

Payne Institute’s Andy Spielman, former chair of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission and Colorado Regional Air Quality Council, called the pilot program “an innovative example of industry stepping forward to develop and demonstrate forward-thinking environmental protections for our communities.”