Flaring in Texas Falls By Over 70 Percent

Wed, August 04, 2021

Flaring intensity among Texas oil and natural gas producers decreased nearly 71 percent from June 2019 to May 2021 – a result of the tremendous efforts by oil and operators to reduce emissions.

The new data – released last week by the Texas Railroad Commission – showed flaring intensity in Texas fell from 2.29 percent to .65 percent. The data also finds total flared gas volumes decreased by nearly 73 percent.

One of the reasons for these incredible reductions are new technologies aimed at reducing emissions. As Texas Railroad Commissioner Wayne Christian says, “technological innovation has allowed operators to reduce waste, without impacting the tremendous impact oil and gas production has on our economy, state budget, and our goal of energy independence.”

Technologies like carbon capture, vapor recovery, and improved monitoring and leak detection are rapidly decreasing emissions from the oil patch. These technologies are at the forefront of an operator-led effort, the Texas Methane and Flaring Coalition, aimed at addressing the states’ emissions issues. The coalition brings together the leading oil and natural gas organizations and associations in the state, including the Texas Independent Producers & Royalty Owners Association (TIPRO), Texas Oil and Gas Association (TXOGA), and the Permian Basin Petroleum Basin Association (PBPA). In February of 2021, the Texas Methane and Flaring Coalition announced its goal to end routine flaring by 2030, aligning with the World Bank’s initiative, Zero Routine Flaring By 2030.  

The newly released data continues the downward trend we found in our analysis released early this year. Texans for Natural Gas found between 2011 and 2019, methane emissions intensity fell 77 percent in the Permian Basin. Since 2011, oil production in the Permian has increased by over 300 percent. As technology continues to advance at a lightning-fast pace, we expect these emissions reductions to continue for years to come.

These reductions can also be attributed to the increased capacity of natural gas pipelines coming online. With more takeaway capacity, operators are better able to capture the natural gas they produce and send it to market. Long seen not only as the safest means of transporting oil and natural gas, but the simplest solution to combatting flaring, this new data shows pipelines are the key to large environmental and climate action in Texas.