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Jason Sandel named chairman of Western States and Tribal Nations Natural Gas Initiative

AZTEC — Farmington resident Jason Sandel hopes his new role as the chairman of the Western States and Tribal Nations Natural Gas Initiative’s board of directors will help promote San Juan Basin natural gas as the initiative seeks to market natural gas to a wider range of customers.

“The Western States and Tribal Nations is an organization that is dedicated to export of Rocky Mountain natural gas and to be the chairman of the organization really makes sure that the San Juan Basin specifically has a good, strong voice inside of the organization,” Sandel said.

He said that strong voice will help the natural gas producers especially in the San Juan Basin as the organization looks to export product to Asia.

Sandel was selected as the chairman of the inaugural board of directors earlier this month, slightly more than a year after New Mexico joined the initiative.

“Since prices remain very, very low in the United States, it’s a very difficult market,” Sandel said. “So looking for alternative uses for natural gas and exports will then improve demand which will then improve the price for the commodity, which will then improve activity levels here in the San Juan and across the Rocky Mountains.”

As chairman, Sandel said he will prioritize finding customers and off-take points for Rocky Mountain natural gas. He said that involves working with companies that are likely to export and “getting them to be aware of the tremendous resources that are available from Rocky Mountain natural gas.”

The board consists of representatives appointed by the governing agencies that signed the foundational memorandum of understanding. These agencies include New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming, the Ute Indian Tribes, several counties in western Colorado and the state of Baja California in Mexico.

Sandel has long been an advocate for the San Juan Basin. He is the executive vice president of the Aztec Well family of companies and is no stranger to public service. Sandel served two terms on the Farmington City Council and has served on several committees in the state including the Methane Advisory Panel and the New Mexico Economic Recovery Council that was created in 2020.

Sandel also serves as a convener for the Energy Transition Act committee.

New Mexico joined the initiative in November 2019 and the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department appointed Sandel as the state’s representative. Sandel said he was not surprised when he was chosen to represent New Mexico because he had spoken to the governor and urged her to have the state join the organization. However, he did not anticipate that a year later he would be selected as the chairman of the board.

“To be selected as their chairman was a surprise to me and a tremendous honor,” Sandel said.

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at hgrover@daily-times.com.

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This article originally appeared on Farmington Daily Times: Jason Sandel named chairman of Western States and Tribal Nations Natural Gas Initiative

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