A Report on Flaring, Permitting, and the Complaint Process in the Texas Oil & Gas Industry
From the introduction:
Flaring of natural gas in Texas, particularly at oil wells, is becoming increasingly prevalent as oil production booms. For example, a 2014 Earthworks report notes that the number of flaring permits in Texas increased from 107 in 2008 to over 3,000 in 2013. The oil and gas wells in the Eagle Ford Shale, which comprise only 3.2% of Texas’s total wells, flared 34 billion cubic feet of gas in 2013, 54% of gas flared from all wells in the state. Almost 90% of the flaring came from oil wells in the formation, as opposed to natural gas wells. In that same year, the flaring from just the Eagle Ford Shale oil wells totaled about 3.5 billion pounds of carbon dioxide, equal to a year’s worth of carbon emissions from about 350,000 cars and light trucks. Researchers from the San Antonio Express-News found that from 2009 through the first seven months of 2014 oil and gas operators in the Eagle Ford region wasted about 94 billion cubic feet of natural gas – roughly enough gas to serve the heating and cooking needs of all the homes in San Antonio over four years. The same researchers found that flaring in Texas’ Eagle Ford Shale alone has increased 400 percent since 2009, and that residents filed several complaints with state officials about poor air quality associated with flaring to no avail.
Flaring, from either oil or natural gas wells, is subject to a host of regulations. State and federal agencies regulate everything from which facilities may flare to how much output they may flare at one time. In the state of Texas, flaring is regulated by two state agencies and the federal Environmental Protection Agency.