*Editor’s note: This story has been updated with comments from Matador.
NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – After facing allegations of delayed document submission and illegal emissions, one of the largest oil and gas producers in the state has agreed to settle. The company will pay over $1 million in fines, at least $1.25 million to upgrade equipment, $500,000 towards continued monitoring, and an additional several million on top of that.
The settlement comes after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) took Matador Production Company to federal court. The government agencies alleged Matador did not file the proper paperwork in time for some of their production facilities and alleged Matador did not properly use and maintain equipment to prevent excess emissions of volatile organic compounds.
The allegations culminated in 2019 when the EPA used a helicopter to detect emissions from six Matador locations. In videos, viewers can see what appear to be plumes of emissions.
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Still frame from 2019 video of a Matador facility. Image from New Mexico Environment Department footage.
On March 27, 2023, the company settled with state and federal regulators. In addition to paying monetary fines, the company will be required to ensure that all 239 tank batteries it operates in New Mexico comply with state and federal requirements.
“This settlement begins to hold the ninth largest oil and gas producer in our state accountable and mitigate the harmful impacts to our communities and ability to breathe clean air,” New Mexico Environment Department Cabinet Secretary James Kenney said in a press release. “We are committed to holding companies accountable when they violate our air quality regulations.”
Matador will have to decommission two diesel engines it used for well work and replace them with cleaner engines. And comply with a list of monitoring requirements, according to the Environment Department.
“In our four decades of operations, Matador has always been committed to operating responsibly,” Matador said in part of a statement. “To that end, we seek to be good stewards of the air, water and land associated with our operations and to reduce emissions throughout our oil and gas assets. We are proud of our relationships throughout the state of New Mexico and are dedicated to being good neighbors and citizens of the states where we operate.”
The company says that from 2019 to 2022, they decreased emissions. They also say they’ve enhanced their maintenance and repair programs to help in emissions reductions as well.
Matador is just one of the many companies subject to oversight by New Mexico’s Environment Department. As of March 27, there are about a dozen other companies and entities under active investigation for air quality compliance, according to the Environment Department’s ‘Enforcement Watch.’
KRQE News 13 reached out to Matador for comment. As of publication, we have not heard back.