Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Gas flaring from oil extraction up 23% from 2018 to 2019 in U.S.; some states are taking steps to regulate it more

"Gas flaring in the United States increased 23 percent last year, contributing to global levels of the practice that have not been 'seen in more than a decade,' according to a new report," Carlos Anchondo reports for Energy & Environment News. The analysis by the World Bank says the U.S. "flared the third-largest amount of gas in the world from 2018 to 2019, following Russia and Iraq. Globally, the volume of gas flaring — in which surplus gas is burned off into the air — increased 3%, rising from 145 billion to 150 billion cubic meters."

That matters because flared gas contains methane, a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. Methane is the main volatile hydrocarbon in natural gas; flaring burns most of it, but some can escape, and one product of the burning is carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas.

Flaring intensity, the amount of gas flared per unit of oil produced, also increased nearly 12% in the U.S. from 2018 to 2019, but dropped by 10% in the first quarter of 2020 despite increased oil production, Anchondo reports. That's because of improved utilization of flared gas, the report says.

Some states are taking steps to regulate flaring, including major Permian Basin drilling states New Mexico and Texas, Anchondo reports.

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