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.