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New Energy World magazine logo
New Energy World magazine logo
ISSN 2753-7757 (Online)

New Mexico cracks down on methane emissions


Satellite images showing methane emissions in Texas Photo: Kayrros
Satellite images showing repeated methane emissions from a Midland County, Texas, US, compressor station between 2019 and 2022

Photo: Kayrros

Methane-reducing regulations implemented in the US state of New Mexico in 2021 are proving successful, according to recent emissions tracking data.

There were twice as many methane leaks in Texas, US, compared to neighbouring New Mexico between 2019 and October 2023, according to new data from climate technology company Kayrros. The data also shows that only in Texas were there sites with repeated leaks – suggesting New Mexico’s landmark methane-reducing regulations that were implemented in 2021 are having the intended effect.


Kayrros used satellite imagery and geoanalytics from Sentinel-2 and EMIT instruments onboard the International Space Station to track leaks of the potent greenhouse gas (GHG) across the 66 counties in Texas and New Mexico that make up the Permian Basin, the largest oil-producing basin in the US.


It found that per unit of oil production, Texas dwarfed its neighbouring state in terms of leaks by methane ‘super-emitters’ – defined as facilities, equipment and other infrastructure that emit methane at high rate. Crucially, crude oil production could not be blamed for the disparity, states Kayrros, as recent growth in Permian Basin crude output has centred on wells in Lea and Eddy counties, both of which are in New Mexico.


Antoine Rostand, CEO and Co-founder of Kayrros, believes that the data shows that taking a tough position on methane emissions does not need to hurt energy security or affordability – and that decision-makers should take note. He says: ‘The effect that methane has on the global climate is devastating. Bringing down methane emissions has to be a priority. That was what New Mexico’s regulations were designed to do, and our data show not only that they are working and benefitting the planet, but that they have not hurt business. By our estimates, Texas emissions could be halved if it adopted similar rules and regulations to New Mexico with little additional cost of interruption of supply.’


He continues: ‘We hope that decision-makers in business and government recognise that the empirical evidence for inaction on bringing down methane emissions is thin. On the contrary, there is now overwhelming proof that we should take bold action to reduce the output of this potent greenhouse gas without delay, and do so without hurting security of supply. That would be a huge victory in the climate battle.’


Rostand hopes that New Mexico’s regulations will provide a model for other states and food for thought for attendees at COP28, where global methane reduction is a key priority.


The news comes as Europe puts forward major proposals concerning methane emissions limits on European Union gas imports – limits which would put pressure on fossil fuel suppliers in the US to cut leaks of the GHG, notes Kayrros.