April 7, 2023

Six operators issued notices of violation for vented, flared gas

Laura Paskus

Flaring in the Four Corners

State regulators notified six oil and gas operators that they are in violation of the state’s waste rule at 10 different facilities.

New Mexico’s Energy Minerals and Natural Resources Department’s Oil Conservation Division issued the notices of violations, which come with penalties, after reviewing operator-reported venting and flaring data. According to a press release, the review led the OCD to determine that a substantial amount of vented and flared gas occurred at a small number of facilities. The top 20 facilities in New Mexico were responsible for nearly 30 percent of vented and flared gas. 

The notices of violation issued on Thursday included the top ten facilities based on venting and flaring data from 2022. Those facilities had a combined total of 1,341 days of flaring or venting, resulting in more than 2 million million cubic feet of gas vented or flared. That is about 15 percent of the total volume of vented and flared gas reported for 2022. Some of the facilities reported venting or flaring for more than 200 days last year.

The operators of these facilities include Avant Operating LLC, Permian Resources Operating LLC, Colgate Operating LLC, Franklin Mountain Energy LLC, Frontier Field Services LLC and Tascosa Energy Partners LLC. 

Acting OCD Director Dylan Fuge said in a press release that his team dug “into the significant volume of data that has been submitted under our Waste Rule to identify patterns of non-compliance that appear to be regular and significant reported venting or flaring at facilities well beyond the limited circumstances permitted by our rules.”

The rules, which went into effect last year, were designed to prohibit routine venting and flaring, although venting and flaring are permitted under certain circumstances such as for safety reasons.

But Fuge said the OCD does not believe those circumstances were met at the ten facilities.

“Here OCD could not find a reasonable justification for a facility to have dozens or hundreds of days with reportable venting or flaring,” he said.

The six operators have the opportunity to discuss the venting and flaring with the OCD and could reach an informal resolution. Should such a resolution not occur, the OCD will have a hearing on June 14.