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More a tenth of gas flares in the Permian play tend to malfunction and release unlit methane into the atmosphere, the Environmental Defense Fund has reported, based on a new aerial survey.
According to the Fund, the survey revealed that one in ten flares either didn’t burn the methane completely, with some of it escapimg into the atmosphere, or they didn’t burn it at all, releasing it as it is.
Malfunctioning and unlit flares are a longstanding problem for the industry and one of the largest sources of methane emissions in the Permian,” said EDF scientist David Lyon in a press release. “The fact that we have not seen any improvement in flare performance over three separate surveys tells us that industry and regulators need to get much more serious about the problem. The best solution is to eliminate routine flaring altogether.”
Methane is a much more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide although it dissipates more quickly in the atmosphere than CO2. Recently, methane has attracted growing attention from both environmentalists, regulators, and the energy industry itself, with several companies pledging to start monitoring their methane emissions.
Flaring is a serious problem and it is getting increasingly serious, it appears. The World Bank reported earlier this week that global gas flaring last year jumped to 150 billion cu m, from 145 billion cu m in 2018.
“Our data suggests that gas flaring continues to be a persistent problem, with solutions remaining difficult or uneconomic in certain countries,” said, Christopher Sheldon, practice manager in the Energy and Extractives Global Practice of the World Bank.
It is also a growing problem in the Permian, specifically: after a decline in flaring accompanying the decline in oil production during the worst of the crisis, flaring in the Permian is once again on the rise, the Environmental Defense Fund reported, with flaring in June 50 percent higher than the previous month.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.