Permian Basin oil and gas operator works to cut emissions in Lea County
A Permian Basin oil and gas producer based in southeast New Mexico sought to curb its environmental impact by partnering with monitoring company to certify a facility as having reached emission reduction targets.
Project Canary signed on to certify a facility owned by Chisholm Energy in Lea County by using laser-based emissions monitoring technology to track emissions as the company aims to reduce air pollution from the facility.
Facilities owned by Chisholm were planned to be outfitted with monitoring technology by the end of the year, with certifications being completed by the first quarter of next year.
Las month ExxonMobil began similar efforts at its Poker Lake facility near Carlsbad through a partnership with MiQ.
Chisholm touted its project as the first of an independent exploration and production company in the western Delaware Basin sub-basin of the Permian in southeast New Mexico.
Chisholm Chief Executive Officer Scott Germann said the move would allow the company’s customers to also reduce their environmental footprint by purchasing petroleum products from a certified facility.
"We believe that by combining our operational expertise with sound environmental best practices, we can deliver value and develop our assets in the most responsible, efficient manner," Germann said.
"Through this agreement, we aim to improve our operations further, and gain access to premium domestic and international certified low emission commodity markets, and we're excited to be an early Permian mover in this rapidly growing market."
Canary will deploy “continuous, real-time” monitoring technology to Chisholm’s wells at the location, providing the producer and its buyers with an assessment of the facility’s operations, which Germann said could lead to improvements in both emissions monitoring and gas capture.
Project Canary CEO Chris Romer said the market for products certified was growing as investors called on energy companies to reduce their carbon footprint in recent years through initiatives tied to environmental, social and governing (ESG) initiatives.
"The market for independent continuous monitoring and certification of responsible operations is growing exponentially,” Romer said. “As a result, forward-thinking operators like Chisholm Energy are taking action to strengthen their ESG profiles and enhance environmental performance.
"Chisholm Energy's action sets a new benchmark for its Permian peers."
And those peers could soon be facing more stringent emissions regulations and requirements from the State of New Mexico after the New Mexico Environment Department recently proposed new requirement for operators aimed at curbing air pollution.
NMED’s rules were presented and discussed over the last two weeks before the Environmental Improvement Board, which was expected to vote on their enactment in the coming months.
During the hearings, oil and gas industry leaders and smaller operators worried the new rules increasing requirements for emissions monitoring, reporting and use of new gas capture technology could be costly and pose an undue burden on smaller producers.
Supporters of the regulations argued they were needed to combat pollution caused by the oil and gas sector – one of the state’s most powerful industries.
Multiple southeast New Mexico counties were identified by the NMED as having elevated ground-level ozone, a cancer-causing air pollutant created when chemicals emitted by oil and gas facilities interact with sunlight.
In a letter to the Board considering the rules, faith leaders from throughout New Mexico including Pastor Nick King from the Carlsbad Mennonite Church advocated for tougher environmental protections at the state level.
They called for tougher regulations, involving more frequent inspections and reporting, on facilities near “frontline communities” such as cities like Carlsbad and Artesia where people dwell mere miles from oil and gas developments and the pollution they emit.
“Methane pollution contributes to accelerated climate change and an uncertain future for New Mexico’s children,” the letter read. “As faith leaders who minister in a variety of ways, we call for strong rules to care for the Common Good, our neighbors and all of creation, which we work to honor and care for.
“Climate change is happening now and we have a moral and ethical responsibility to act now in faithful ways.”
Adrian Hedden can be reached at 575-618-7631, firstname.lastname@example.org or @AdrianHedden on Twitter.