ODESSA, TX (Big 2 / Fox 24) – The Environmental Defense Fund has been tracking methane emissions in the Permian Basin since 2019 through their Permian Methane Analysis Project or PermianMAP. Their research found that the amount of methane gas released is nearly 3 times more than the EPA has estimated.
“We’ve always talked about it in terms of waste, you know it’s not an efficient use of a product that could be used,” Colin Leyden with the EDF says. The main issue, according to Leyden, is that some flares are malfunctioning, meaning that the methane they would be burning is being released into the atmosphere instead. “Methane, the primary component of natural gas, is a potent greenhouse gas causing a quarter of the warming we’re experiencing today,” the EDF says.
Producers in the basin agree that something needs to be done about flaring. “I think everyone today is doing their best to put that gas in a pipeline first and foremost,” says Kirk Edwards, past Chairman of the Permian Basin Petroleum Association. He says that along with the environmental benefit that less flaring brings, it can also increase producer’s revenue.
Certain projects directly help the issue; some have been announced and some have been completed. This includes Kinder-Morgan’s Permian Highway Pipeline pipeline that sends natural gas from the Permian Basin to the Texas coast, as well as a planned gasoline plant completely powered by natural gas and other renewable sources. Edwards says that projects like these are the future of the energy industry and work to make the business cleaner and more efficient.
Leyden says that the EDF is working with the Texas government to ban “routine flaring”; meaning that the natural gas from an oil well has no place to go other than to the flare. Other oil-producing states like New Mexico have passed or are passing legislation to ban routine flaring by a certain year in the future.
The PermianMAP will continue collecting data through this year, to see all of their data visualized and categorized by company, visit permianmap.org.