In 2013 the Mexican government introduced a series of reforms that transferred the country’s huge oil and gas resources from the sole control of the state-owned energy firm, Pemex (Petróleos Mexicanos), to other potential stakeholders to open up the market to foreign investment. The new regulations are expected to reduce emission levels and improve safety regulations which have been under the spotlight since the Pasta de Conchos mine disaster in 2006, where a methane gas explosion killed 65 miners.
Coal mining companies are now allowed to recover and repurpose coal bed methane, coal mine methane, abandoned mine methane and ventilation air methane from operations, reducing the need for gas flaring and venting.
As part of the reforms, Pemex has committed to reducing its own gas emission levels and co-chairs the Global Methane Initiative’s oil and gas subcommittee on behalf of the Mexican government, which will soon be part of the World Bank’s Global Gas Flaring Reduction Partnership (GGFR).
In 2009, the practice of gas flaring accounted for 64% of Mexico’s total emissions and the GGFR project’s goal is to increase flaring efficiency to at least 98%, reducing the negative impact the practice has on the health of the country’s citizens and the wider environment.
The Comisión Nacional de Hidrocarburos (CNH) — an independent body which regulates the production of fossil fuels in Mexico — has issued a new set of guidelines aimed at reducing gas flaring and venting:
- The continuous flow rate capacity of flare and vent gas meters must be sized according to the expected amount of gas to be emitted or flared
- The maximum allowable measurement uncertainty for gas flaring / venting measurement systems shall be no greater than plus or minus three per cent
- All gas and vent meters must be installed in compliance with manufacturer specifications.
Measurement and monitoring of flare and gas composition must be carried out either by sampling for analysis in a laboratory or through the installation of continuous analysers. If there is a substantial amount of liquid in the gases being vented, operators must install a separator along with a liquid meter.
Indirect estimation of gas volumes must be made in accordance with gas oil ratio (GOR) accounting or by using system balance or simulation.
Like most countries, Mexico has recognised the need to effectively measure and regulate the amount of gas being flared or vented by its Oil & Gas Industry. As these new reforms look to bring in overseas investment, it is hoped that this will encourage operating standards to rise further, allowing Mexico’s energy sector to thrive whilst significantly reducing the detrimental impact gas flaring has on the natural environment.