Energy Exchange

A year of data and one clear message: Permian flaring remains a major problem

By Colin Leyden and Ben Hmiel

Even amidst a global pandemic and market volatility that reduced oil and gas activity, at least one thing didn’t change in the Permian last year: operators can’t seem to keep their flares lit.

Throughout 2020, EDF conducted aerial surveys of portions of the Permian Basin to determine the performance of natural gas flares. Even when done properly, flaring is a wasteful, polluting practice that has earned industry “a black eye.” But when flares malfunction they also become major sources of highly potent, climate-polluting methane.

Over the course of 2020, we conducted periodic surveys of flares in various parts of the Permian. These took place in February, March, June and November, and included a series of consecutive, repeat surveys of one specific area on November 2, 4 and 6 meant to understand how long flare malfunctions persist. In total, we studied nearly 1,200 flares in the region.

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Also posted in Methane regulatons, Natural Gas, New Mexico, PermianMAP, Texas / Comments are closed

New report: Routine flaring in Texas’ Permian can be eliminated at little to no cost

A new analysis commissioned by EDF from Rystad Energy makes clear that flaring from Texas’ Permian oil and gas operations is persistent and is likely to increase in coming years as production rebounds from 2020, but that industry can eliminate most routine flaring at zero cost with simple rules and operator changes.

Following are key takeaways, but you can download Rystad’s entire report here.

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Also posted in Flaring, Natural Gas, Texas / Comments are closed

How oil & gas states did (and did not) protect land and water in 2020

More than 30 states actively regulate oil and gas development with a variety of practices and rules designed to reduce health, safety and environmental impacts. States engage in a process of continuous improvement by adopting new rules and practices as technologies and risk mitigation techniques evolve — even in an extraordinary year like 2020. EDF tracks state trends in oil and gas regulation related to the protection of land, water and local communities, reporting notable state actions each year.

2020 presented multiple challenges for the oil and gas industry and state regulators, including the twin shocks of an OPEC price war and a steep decline in demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Nevertheless, many states showed strong commitment to ensuring environmental integrity by adopting critical new rules across a variety of topics.

Here are the big things we saw in 2020.

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Also posted in Methane regulatons, Natural Gas, produced water / Comments are closed

What Biden’s methane focus means for energy industry, its investors

A journey of miles starts with a single step, and for the U.S. oil and gas industry and its financiers, supporting strong and swift methane regulation by the incoming Biden administration is a big step on the road to climate progress.

Cutting methane emissions from the oil and gas sector is the single fastest thing we can do to limit the rate at which our climate is warming. There is no more impactful way to make up for lost time than finally instituting stringent standards to slash methane emissions from all sources across industry.

That’s because the emissions problem is egregious, the technology solutions abundant and cost effective, and the policy routes straightforward.

The old voluntary versus regulatory debate is behind us. Now, with the Biden administration firmly committed to reducing oil and gas methane emissions, a new era has begun.

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Also posted in Methane regulatons, PermianMAP / Comments are closed

5 opportunities for renewed American climate leadership on methane

With Joe Biden winning the 2020 U.S. presidency, attention now shifts to how his administration will prioritize domestic and international climate action in the context of COVID-19 and its related economic repercussions.

Among the most powerful elements of a reinvigorated American climate strategy is assertive action to reduce methane pollution. At least 25% of today’s global warming is caused by methane emissions from human activities, including production and use of fossil fuels, agriculture and municipal waste. One of the world’s largest sources of manmade methane pollution is the oil and gas industry.

Oil and gas methane emissions also present a particularly important climate opportunity, as it offers the most immediate and lowest cost option to reduce a potent greenhouse gas.

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Also posted in Canada, Methane regulatons / Comments are closed

The connection between jobs and addressing orphan oil and gas wells

All across the country right now, there are tens of thousands of officially documented “orphan” oil and gas wells creating environmental hazards for their communities. These are wells that the oil and gas industry walked away from because they became uneconomic over time. Rather than properly sealing them, they left state and federal taxpayers holding the bag. These wells can be big sources of air, water and climate pollution if left unaddressed.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg. There are hundreds of thousands and perhaps millions more of these inactive, unplugged wells that need to be addressed. This is not to mention the potential for adding hundreds of thousands of currently active wells to the orphan well inventory as oil and gas producers struggle to survive the downturn in petroleum prices.

Luckily, efforts are underway in Congress and within the presidential transition plan to address these orphan wells. In his economic plan, President-elect Joe Biden laid out his vision for a cleaner and healthier future.

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Also posted in Air Quality, Natural Gas, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas / Comments are closed