New Mexico reports gas capture rates - Albuquerque Journal

New Mexico reports gas capture rates

Natural gas is flared at two wells south of Carlsbad. New Mexico has banned routine venting and flaring, and companies must now report how much natural gas they capture or emit. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

More than a year after New Mexico banned routine venting and flaring of natural gas, the public can now see how much gas energy companies are capturing or emitting in their operations.

State officials say the data helps give a clearer picture of industry waste.

The Oil Conservation Division has set a mandatory 98% gas capture rate by the end of 2026 and started requiring operators to report emissions.

OCD director Adrienne Sandoval said the new data is a “lot more granular than we’ve had in the past.”

“We really were not previously able to discern data pieces and figure out where, with specificity, venting and flaring may or may not be coming from,” Sandoval said.

The baseline numbers will determine how much individual operators need to improve each year to meet the 98% target.

Most companies are reporting capture rates greater than 90%.

But some operators are emitting 30 to 40% of the natural gas they recover from drilling.

Operators get credit toward their capture targets if they use advanced detection technology to quickly find and fix leaks.

Companies must report any releases during emergencies or maintenance.

Preference is given to flaring — burning off the gas — rather than venting.

Rules apply to extraction wells and transportation equipment.

Before the new regulations, the state didn’t have emissions data for midstream pipelines.

But the agency also faces data inconsistencies.

Some companies reported gas capture rates greater than 100%, which is impossible.

The OCD will require 10 companies to have independent data audits.

“We issued an additional 74 letters to operators saying, ‘you need to look at your data, you need to look at it now, or we may be requiring an audit at a later date,'” Sandoval said.

Companies that represent nearly 99% of New Mexico’s gas production and more than 85% of all wells have reported emissions data.

But the OCD said more than 150 operators missed reporting deadlines.

The state can withhold new drilling permits if companies don’t comply.

Companies must also disclose how they are collecting the data — whether the amount of gas waste is metered or is a calculated estimate.

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