Increased unlit flaring means Rystad’s oil & gas ‘silver lining’ might be illusory

Statement of Earthworks' Senior Field Advocate Sharon Wilson

Background:
Today Rystad Energy announced “flaring levels in the Permian Basin have fallen sharply and will continue to decline throughout the year”. Earthworks’ certified field thermographers have made hundreds of Permian field inspections with optical gas imaging cameras since 2016 and discovered that an increasing percentage of operations have unlit flares: meaning operators are increasingly directly releasing methane and toxic volatile organic compounds like benzene, rather than being combusted by a flare.

Data source: Earthworks’ Community Empowerment Project field observations

Statement of Earthworks’ Senior Field Advocate and certified thermographer Sharon Wilson: “Rystad’s ‘silver lining’ of decreased Permian flaring might be illusory. Reduced production doesn’t necessarily mean reduced pollution. Our hundreds of Permian field investigations over the past three years show a rising trend of unlit flares in the face of declining prices. Unlit flares are worse than flaring because they release enormous amounts of methane, which is 86 times worse for climate than the carbon dioxide that lit flares are intended to release.”

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