Reducing Gas Flaring Will Benefit Economy and Environment

Reducing gas flaring throughout the United States would provide substantial economic and environmental benefits, according to a new issue brief by an expert in the Center for Energy Studies at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy.

“Reducing Oilfield Methane Emissions Can Create New US Gas Export Opportunities” is authored by Gabriel Collins, the Baker Botts Fellow in Energy and Environmental Regulatory Affairs at the Baker Institute.

“Flaring and venting of gas in West Texas’s Permian Basin — and certain other parts of the U.S. — have reached sufficient scale that taken in aggregate, the argument of ‘burning gas to allow oil extraction’ increasingly looks like ‘wasting one resource to produce another,'” Collins wrote. “Regulators in Texas — the flaring capital of the U.S. — have thus far proven highly deferential to industry on the issue of flared and vented gas, even allowing producers to flare when they are connected to a functional pipeline gathering system.”

The amount of gas that analysts estimate was flared in the Permian Basin during the third quarter of 2019, if multiplied by four, could yield as much as 4.8 million metric tons of exportable liquefied natural gas (LNG) on an annual basis if captured and liquefied, Collins said. That volume would exceed the nameplate capacity of a world-class LNG train such as what Cheniere Energy has built at its Sabine Pass facility, he said.


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