May 10, 2024
May 10, 2024
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New Mexico regulators fine Texas-based oil producer over $40M for burning excessive amounts of natural gas

New Mexico Oil and Gas Producer Faces Record Fines for Pollution Violations

In a groundbreaking move, New Mexico’s oilfield and air quality regulators have imposed unprecedented fines on a Texas-based oil and natural gas producer for allegedly disregarding local pollution reporting and control regulations. The company, Ameredev, is accused of burning off significant amounts of natural gas in a highly productive energy-production area in the southeastern part of the state.

The New Mexico Environment Department has levied a staggering $40.3 million penalty against Ameredev for excessive emissions resulting from burning activities at five facilities in Lea County near Jal in 2019 and 2020. Concerns have been raised about the release of various pollutants, including sulfur dioxide, which are linked to climate change and pose serious health risks.

Ameredev is alleged to have extracted oil and natural gas without a proper means of transporting the gas via pipelines as mandated by state law. Instead, the company is accused of burning off the gas in excess of permissible limits or without authorization, resulting in emissions equivalent to the pollution generated by heating 16,640 homes for a year.

The practice of open-air burning, known as “flaring,” is often used to prevent direct emissions into the atmosphere, with permit requirements in place to regulate the burning process. However, Ameredev failed to adhere to the conditions outlined in their permits, leading to the current regulatory actions.

In addition to the fines imposed by the Environment Department, state oilfield regulators have issued a violation notice and proposed a $2.4 million penalty against Ameredev for various regulatory infractions at one of their wells. The company is accused of failing to submit required production and natural gas waste reports, which are essential for demonstrating compliance with waste rules and climate change policies.

The Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department has emphasized the importance of timely and accurate reporting by operators to ensure adherence to environmental regulations. Secretary Sarah Cottrell Propst has stated that the agency is pursuing the maximum penalty available in this case.

Ameredev has the option to dispute the sanctions administratively and appeal them in court if necessary. The Environment Department has instructed the company to cease all excess emissions and obtain permits that accurately reflect their operations, with verification from an independent auditor.

The enforcement actions against Ameredev were initiated following reports from concerned citizens about open-air flaring activities. Subsequent inspections revealed discrepancies between the company’s representations in their permits and the actual practices observed on-site.

The surge in natural gas production in New Mexico’s portion of the Permian Basin has strained existing pipelines, leading to challenges in gathering and transporting the gas. To address these issues, state oil and gas regulators have updated regulations to limit venting and flaring at petroleum production sites, with a focus on reducing methane pollution and smog-causing emissions.

The recent measures implemented by the Environment Department underscore the state’s commitment to curbing pollution from oilfield operations and protecting public health and the environment. By holding companies accountable for their actions and ensuring compliance with regulations, New Mexico aims to mitigate the impact of energy production on air quality and climate change.

New Mexico Regulators Fine Texas-based Oil Producer Over $40M for Burning Excessive Amounts of Natural Gas

Recently, New Mexico regulators have taken action against a Texas-based oil producer for violating regulations regarding the burning of natural gas. The company was fined over $40 million for burning excessive amounts of natural gas, which not only contributes to air pollution but also wastes valuable resources. This case highlights the importance of enforcing regulations to protect the environment and ensure responsible practices within the oil and gas industry.

Key Details of the Case

The oil producer in question was found to be burning vast quantities of natural gas without proper authorization, leading to significant environmental concerns. The excessive burning of natural gas releases harmful pollutants into the air, contributing to air pollution and climate change. In addition, it represents a waste of valuable resources that could otherwise be captured and utilized.

Regulatory Response

As a response to these violations, New Mexico regulators imposed a fine of over $40 million on the oil producer. This significant penalty sends a clear message that regulatory bodies are committed to holding companies accountable for their actions and ensuring compliance with environmental regulations. It also serves as a deterrent to other companies within the industry, emphasizing the importance of following guidelines and operating in an environmentally responsible manner.

Impact on the Environment

The burning of natural gas releases methane and other harmful pollutants into the atmosphere, contributing to air pollution and climate change. Methane, in particular, is a potent greenhouse gas that has a significant impact on global warming. By enforcing regulations and penalizing companies that engage in irresponsible practices, regulators can help mitigate the environmental impact of oil and gas production.

Benefit of Environmental Regulations

Strict environmental regulations play a crucial role in protecting the environment and public health. By enforcing guidelines and holding companies accountable for their actions, regulators can reduce harmful emissions, promote sustainable practices, and safeguard natural resources for future generations. In this case, the hefty fine imposed on the oil producer serves as a reminder of the importance of adhering to environmental regulations and operating in a responsible manner.

Key Takeaways
Excessive burning of natural gas can contribute to air pollution and waste valuable resources.
New Mexico regulators fined a Texas-based oil producer over $40 million for violating regulations.
Enforcing environmental regulations is critical to mitigating the impact of oil and gas production on the environment.

Practical Tips for Responsible Oil and Gas Production

  • Implementing efficient capturing and utilization of natural gas can help reduce emissions and minimize waste.
  • Regular monitoring and compliance with environmental regulations are essential to maintaining responsible practices.
  • Investing in technology and infrastructure to reduce methane emissions can benefit both the environment and the company’s bottom line.


The case of the Texas-based oil producer fined over $40 million for burning excessive amounts of natural gas underscores the importance of environmental regulations and responsible practices within the oil and gas industry. By enforcing guidelines and holding companies accountable for their actions, regulators can help protect the environment, reduce harmful emissions, and promote sustainable practices. It serves as a reminder to companies within the industry to prioritize environmental stewardship and operate in a manner that is both environmentally responsible and economically sustainable.



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