Energy Exchange

Satellite data confirms Permian gas flaring is double what companies report

A new analysis of satellite data reveals natural gas waste and pollution in the Texas Permian Basin is two times higher than what industry reports to the Texas Railroad Commission (RRC). In 2017 alone, Permian oil and gas operators burned enough gas to serve all the heating and cooking needs of the state’s seven largest cities. That’s roughly $322 million dollars of natural gas that went up in smoke.

Using National Oceanic and Atmospheric (NOAA) Earth Observation Group satellite data, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) analyzed flaring rates and volumes in the Permian for 2017. The results are eye-opening. The satellite data indicates Permian operators burned 104 billion cubic feet of natural gas—4.4 percent of all gas produced. However, industry only reported 55 billion cubic feet of gas burned to the RRC in that same year.

It gets worse. In the Delaware Basin portion of the Permian, which accounts for about half of all gas produced in the basin, satellite data shows operators burning almost eight percent of their gas. That means some individual operators are wasting even more.

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Also posted in Texas / Comments are closed

Conservative Wyoming rises to the occasion as feds roll over on oil and gas pollution

Lost amid the wrapping paper this holiday season was a very important move in Wyoming to step up and better regulate air pollution from the state’s oil and gas wells. It was one more reason to pop some champagne corks as we rang in the New Year.

Without much fanfare on Dec. 27, Wyoming finalized new requirements that will mean significant reductions in oil and gas air pollution – including methane – statewide. These newly finalized rules require oil and gas producers to regularly check new and modified oil and gas wells and associated infrastructure for leaks, an improvement that EDF and partners like the Wyoming Outdoor Council have been advocating for several years.

And beyond the holidays, the timing of this move could not be better. That is because while Wyoming is requiring twice-yearly leak inspections at new and modified well sites statewide, the Trump administration’s EPA is working to significantly weaken these same leak inspection requirements at the federal level.

The message here is clear: sensible requirements to regularly find and fix leaks make sense in conservative Wyoming, and they should all across the U.S.

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Also posted in Air Quality, Methane, Wyoming / Comments are closed

How oil & gas states did (and did not) protect land and water in 2018

By Adam Peltz & Nichole Saunders

Keeping an eye on what happens with domestic oil and gas regulation is a bit like herding cats. We’ve seen encouraging progress on air quality issues related to oil and gas, but an equally critical front that’s seen major action is protection of our land and water resources.

More than 30 states actively regulate oil and gas development but their practices and rules vary significantly. Add the recent attention around industry’s impact on local communities – from earthquakes and the risk of spills to increased traffic and local air pollution – and it’s easy to miss the big trends that dominated regulatory agendas in 2018.

EDF devotes a significant amount of time tracking this activity, and 2018 was a busy year. Over a dozen states completed rule updates and other types of improvements this year on a variety of topics.

Here are the big things we saw in 2018.

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Also posted in Aliso Canyon, California, Colorado, Methane, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, produced water, produced water, State, Texas, Water, Wyoming / Tagged , , | Comments are closed

EPA-New Mexico wastewater report is a conversation starter, not the final word

This blog was co-authored by Colin Leyden and Nichole Saunders

The Environmental Protection Agency and the outgoing Martinez administration in New Mexico have produced a draft white paper and solicited comments on potential ways to reuse or manage the growing volume of wastewater produced by the state’s oil and gas industry.

While the paper is a helpful outline of current produced water policy, New Mexico decision-makers should view it as a conversation starter and not the final word. When it comes to answering questions about whether the oil and gas industry’s wastewater can be safely reused for other purposes, like food crops, livestock or, as the white paper even suggests, drinking water, there are a number of other serious factors to be considered.

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Also posted in General, New Mexico, produced water, produced water, Water / Tagged , , , | Comments are closed

Private equity has opportunity to step up on methane, says Harvard Management Company

Earlier this year, we had the opportunity to sit down with Michael Cappucci, Senior Vice President of Compliance and Sustainable Investing at Harvard Management Company (HMC). In a recent blog post, Michael shared his outlook on the methane opportunity for oil and gas companies, along with his opinion on the pace of change within the industry.

Below is the second part of our conversation, where Michael offers new insights on investor ESG engagement and its correlation to portfolio performance. He also talks about private equity’s somewhat quiet stance on methane, and the sector’s potential to bring about change among mid-size operators that have yet to tackle methane emissions.

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Also posted in General, Methane / Tagged , , , | Comments are closed

Three ways Zinke failed as Interior Secretary. Why the next Secretary will likely fail, too.

USDA photo by Lance Cheung.

This blog was co-authored by David Festa and Dan Grossman.

Two years ago, a colleague of ours penned a blog titled, “How Interior pick can make good on Trump’s promise to honor Theodore Roosevelt.”

Looking back now, it was optimistic for any of us to believe that Ryan Zinke could fulfill the responsibilities of the Interior Secretary, when it’s clear that the Trump administration has no respect for America’s natural resources and cultural heritage.

Here are three reasons why Zinke failed as Interior Secretary, and why we are deeply skeptical that his replacement will succeed, either.

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Also posted in Methane / Comments are closed