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New Mexico Explores Monitoring Methane Emissions

Methane emissions monitoring is at the forefront of New Mexico’s current energy landscape. Two separate entities have undertaken developing methane-detection models and collecting data measuring emissions throughout New Mexico, particularly in the Permian Basin.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, although not a hazardous air pollutant, methane is a greenhouse gas that is more powerful than carbon dioxide but stays in the atmosphere for less time. During drilling operations, the gas frequently leaks or is intentionally released. However, throughout the last 10 to 20 years, the oil and gas industry actively reduced methane leaks through innovations which include capturing emissions during operations. The New Mexico Oil and Gas Association also highlights technology such as infrared cameras and internet-enabled devices that monitor production equipment and facilities for leaks or other anomalies in real time.

DATA REFINERY
Under the Executive Order on Addressing Climate Change and Energy Waste Prevention, signed by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on January 29, the New Mexico Environmental Department and New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department are in the process of developing rules that will regulate methane emissions as one of the directives. According to a task force update, “two separate rulemakings will be necessary” for methane in the oil gas industry; the first as a “wasted resource” and second as it relates to “air quality impacts.” The state has partnered with local supercomputing company Descartes Labs to analyze satellite data, compiled in the Data Refinery.

NEW MEXICO OIL & GAS DATA
In a separate year-long project announced October 2, the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) partnered with Pennsylvania State University, the University of Wyoming and Scientific Aviation to collect data using advanced monitoring technologies throughout the Permian Basin. According to the EDF, the methods involve “tower-based stationary sensors,” aerial measurements and “a vehicle-based, downwind approach.” From these measurements, a map of emissions is continuously updated, and results will be submitted for peer review.