Oil And Gas Industry Touts Emissions Declines In New Mexico Basins
Industry officials pointed to a decline in methane emissions from oil and gas operations throughout the Permian and San Juan basins, as production continues to grow in New Mexico.
Data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency showed emissions from the two basins – New Mexico's biggest – declined between 2016 and 2017.
The Permian saw a reduction of 100,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e), from 8.4 million metric tons in 2016, to 8.3 million in 2017.
Carbon dioxide equivalent is a standard unit of measurement for greenhouse gasses.
The San Juan declined by about 727,750 metric tons CO2e, down from about 5.4 million in 2016 to 4.6 million in 2017.
Ryan Flynn, executive director of the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association pointed to "market-based" solutions, not government regulations, for the decrease.
Methane is known as a greenhouse gas, and is a common byproduct in oil and gas extraction.
“Absent any new regulation, oil and natural gas producers are leading the way in decreasing methane emissions,” Flynn said. “Falling methane emissions prove that we can increase production and protect the environment at the same time – it doesn’t have to be a choice."
Robert McEntyre, NMOGA spokesman said the reductions are due to industry innovation, not heavy government regulations.
"This is an issue we want to tackle," he said. "We're actually combating this issue at the ground and company level. All the data we've looked at points to methane emissions going down."
The data was collected from the EPA's Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program, with 8,000 facilities across the nation reporting to the program.
Last year marked the first year the program was able to generate a comparable data set, contrasting two subsequent years.
Flynn said tracking and capturing methane is a top priority for the industry, and new programs and technologies will strengthen such efforts.
“We want to capture as much methane as possible," he said. "And it’s a priority for the oil and gas industry in New Mexico to continue to take the lead in reducing emissions through responsible operations and innovation."
New Mexico recently set all-time records in rig count and oil and gas production, climbing to third in the nation for oil production, per data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
The growth led to a $1.4 million surplus in state revenue.
“New and creative technologies developed by oil and natural gas producers are driving these reductions, and helping to reduce the footprint of required for production and operations," Flynn said. "This market-driven approach makes New Mexico good for business, and good for our environment.”
Oil production in the Permian grew from 1.9 million barrels of oil per day in January 2016 to 2.8 million by the end of last year, a growth of almost 50 percent per data from the Texans for Natural Gas, an increase of nearly 50 percent.
The growth came while new technology allowed the industry to reduce its carbon footprint and impact on the environment, said Steve Everley, spokesman for Texans for Natural Gas.
Over the past year, the organization reported natural gas production also grew during that time fro, 6.5 billion cub feet per day to 9.3 billion.
"Earlier this year, the United States became the world’s largest oil producer, thanks in large part to technological innovation in west Texas and southeast New Mexico," he said in a statement. "The latest data from EPA confirm that America’s rise to energy superpower status has not come at the expense of the environment."