Colorado oil emissions measurement startup changes leaders

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A Project Canary air emissions sensor shown at an oil and gas well site in Colorado.

Denver, CO., August 29, 2023–(Denver Business Journal)– A Denver company measuring oil and gas emissions is turning to the brother of its CEO and its co-founder for new leadership as the business evolves past its fast-growing startup phase.

Chris Romer, an entrepreneur and former state legislator, is stepping aside as CEO of Denver-based Project Canary to be its chairman. His brother, Tim Romer, who had been Project Canary’s CFO, and Will Foiles, co-founder and COO of the company, are becoming co-CEOs running the business.

Project Canary turned to co-CEOs for leadership that could combine to focus on day-to-day operations and execution and develop the science behind their measurement technologies, the two executives said in an exclusive interview with the Denver Business Journal.

“Will and I are going to make the trains run on time and keep growing the company because that makes sense,” Tim Romer said. “It’s just different leaders are better at different points in time.”

Chris Romer had led the company during a phase when it was smaller and needed to evangelize about the need to measure methane emissions and other elements of oil and gas production. He will remain active and at Project Canary full-time as chairman, providing similar direction, the company said.

It’s a natural evolution for a startup and what Project Canary has grown into, they said.

The company employs 150 people who are based offices in Denver, Princeton, New Jersey and Hayward, California. It also has several employees who work remotely or in the field across the country.

Project Canary’s systems take data from sensors the company makes to place on oil well sites, and the business also ingests data from other sources — on-site sensors, data from plane or satellite overflights, from handheld infrared cameras. Its software turns it into information that can alert oil companies to leaks and be used for certifying the carbon dioxide intensity of a company’s production or to precisely track other emissions and environmental impacts.

Foiles co-founded the company in 2019 and worked with Chris Romer to expand it.

Tim Romer has a background in Wall Street finance and as CFO or founder of other startups, including years in the co-founding leadership of a supply chain technology business.

He’d served as CFO at Project Canary since 2021.

The Romer brothers are the sons of former Colorado Governor Roy Romer.

Project Canary, founded in 2019, has evolved to where it will be less focused on growing and selling customers on the value of what it does to be being more focused on producing reliable results for clients at scale — often putting sensors on wells in remote, difficult locations — and making the best technologies to drive the services, they said.

“I don’t think the substance of what we do on a day-to-day basis is changing a lot,” Foiles said. “If anything, I think what you’ll see more and more of is a focus on science and technology.”

That’s because oil and gas production and pipeline companies don’t need to be pushed as much to become convinced about the value of measuring their emissions and environmental impacts, Tim Romer said.

Investors, regulators and the market have been sending that message, and many companies see certifiably low-carbon production as something to pursue to differentiate themselves, Romer said.

There are also different standards companies want to meet, and Project Canary won’t be as focused on making its Trustwell certification widely known and an industry standard. The company is emphasizing the development of the highest-quality measurement services and data and letting oil companies that hire Project Canary determine what standards are important to meet, the executives said.

Third-party, impartial and auditable data is what Project Canary will offer, the co-CEOs said.

“It’s all about science, precision, accuracy — because that’s how you solve the problem,” Foiles said. “Particularly a complex problem, like we’re dealing with.”

About Project Canary

Project Canary is a climate technology company offering an enterprise data platform that helps energy companies improve and report on their emissions footprint. Project Canary builds high-fidelity sensors, ingests data from various other technologies and sources, and leverages proprietary analytics and models to deliver insights that operators can act on to reduce emissions. The data-driven technology enables energy operators to stop leaks faster, reduce risk, streamline reporting, and differentiate their operations for key stakeholders.
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