Methane Emissions from Texas Oil and Gas Continue to Decline

Friday, October 06, 2017

Two of the most prolific oil and natural gas basins in the United States have experienced dramatic declines in methane emissions over the past five years, according to new data released by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

In the Permian Basin, which covers West Texas and southeast New Mexico, oil and natural gas producers slashed methane emissions by 300,000 metric tons of CO2 equivalent between 2011 and 2016. Between January 2011 and December 2016, oil production in the Permian increased by more than 1.1 million barrels per day, or about 116 percent.

The Gulf Coast Basin, including the Eagle Ford Shale in south Texas, showed a similar decline of approximately 300,000 metric tons of methane since 2011. 

Environmental groups have increasingly attacked Texas oil and natural gas companies over methane emissions, focusing on their operations in the Permian Basin specifically. The allegations, though framed as a call for more regulation, are actually an attempt to ban drilling in Texas.

The new data from EPA appear to undermine those claims about methane.

The drop in emissions also comes as multiple federal agencies are considering rescinding or modifying regulations targeting methane, most of which were issued by the Obama administration late in its second term. Earlier this week, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management announced it would “temporarily suspend or delay” virtually all of the requirements of an Obama-era regulation targeting methane emissions from oil and natural gas activities on federally-controlled and Indian lands.

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