Researchers from the University of Colorado and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Boulder have begun a new study to measure air pollution from oil and gas fields across the West.
The scientists are flying a small airplane across numerous oil and gas basins, from North Dakota's Bakken oil field, through Wyoming, Colorado, and Utah, and all the way down to Texas. They will take measurements of methane as well as ozone precursors, and aim to answer the question: Why do some oil and natural gas production basins pollute more than others?
Oil and gas executives are wondering, "how do we get more out of our wells?"
The urgency of that query, in response to falling oil prices and drilling rig counts, has companies responding by switching their focus from efficiency above ground to efficiency below. Think of it as embracing technology to increase well production versus simply drilling faster and operating 24/7.
The Department of the Interior has unveiled new regulations on hydraulic fracturing operations that take place on federal lands, requiring companies using the drilling technique to ensure wells are safe and to disclose chemicals used in the process.
The rules change follows a more than three-year review process and will affect the 90 percent of oil and gas wells on federal lands that now use so-called fracking to extract oil and gas.
The executive director of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, Tisha Schuller, recently announced that she's leaving the state's largest trade organization for the energy industry.
In a statement released by COGA, Schuller said it was a "wild ride" and that she was honored to have represented the state's oil industry. While remaining in her position until the end of May, Schuller sat down to talk about the future of the industry and why she decided to leave her position.