Energy Exchange

What new Permian research means for U.S. methane policy

By Dan Grossman and Ben Hmiel

Newly released research is shedding more light on the largest sources of methane emissions in the nation’s largest oilfield.

Methane is an extremely potent greenhouse gas and has a huge impact on the current rate of global warming. The oil and gas industry is one of the biggest emitters.

Using a helicopter equipped with an infrared camera, we surveyed over a thousand sites across the Permian Basin to get specific information about the types of facilities, equipment and events that make the Permian Basin the highest-polluting oilfield in the country. Three things immediately stood out.

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

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, Methane regulatons, Natural Gas, New Mexico, Texas / 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, Methane regulatons / Comments are closed

To fix flaring, Railroad Commission must tackle the incentive problem

Previously published in Shale Magazine

By Colin Leyden and Scott Anderson

A remarkable thing happened at the Texas Railroad Commission these past few weeks. Throughout the contentious debate over proration, a growing chorus of voices on both sides was calling on the commissioners to address flaring — an incredibly wasteful, environmentally damaging practice that has been giving producers a black eye for years.

During the epic 10-hour proration hearing on April 14, it wasn’t just environmental and health groups banging the drum on flaring. Large and small producers (both for and against proration), mineral rights groups and investors all called for action on flaring. So while proration may be off the agenda for now, the need and desire to address flaring lives on.

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Also posted in Air Quality, Climate, Methane, Methane regulatons, Natural Gas, Texas / Comments are closed

A zero flaring policy is long overdue, and investors can help make it reality

As investors take a hard look at the U.S. energy sector during this time of volatility, natural gas flaring is one of the most important and immediate risks to manage.

The eyesore of the oilfield, flaring natural gas destroys shareholder value and creates environmental, social and governance risk — exactly the kind of problem that an increasing number of asset managers, investment banks, and even private equity firms have promised to address.

Routine flaring is damaging the environment in several ways. In addition to the CO2 emissions from combusted gas, flares can release significant amounts of methane into the atmosphere. EDF’s recent helicopter survey found that more than one in every 10 flares at oil and gas sites across the Permian Basin was either unlit — venting uncombusted methane straight to the atmosphere — or only partially burning the gas they were releasing. In fact, the survey suggests that flaring could be among the region’s largest sources of fugitive methane and a troublesome contributor to local air pollution.

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Also posted in Air Quality, Climate, Methane, Natural Gas, New Mexico, Texas / Comments are closed

A bright future for continuous methane detection

Over the last decade, a trove of scientific studies has established that not only are methane emissions from oil and gas operations a major contributor to climate change, but also that they are severely underestimated and underreported.

EDF has been at the forefront of research to detect and quantify the magnitude of oil and gas methane emissions. And we’ve also helped develop solutions that make large-scale emission reductions easier, faster and cheaper. A new initiative led by The University of Texas at Austin called Project ASTRA is a promising, multi-year experiment with the potential to build on and complement other efforts aimed at scaling global reductions of oil and gas methane emissions.

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Also posted in Methane / Comments are closed