Permian methane intensity already low, trade group says
An industry trade group from Texas said November 3 methane emissions from the Permian shale basin had declined by nearly 70% between 2011 and 2020.
Using data from the World Bank, the US Energy Information Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency and Norwegian consultant group Rystad Energy, the Texas Independent Producers and Royalty Owners Association (TIPRO) found that methane and flaring intensity from the shale basin was on a downward trend.
“Over the last decade, we’ve seen oil and gas operators come together to present new solutions to reduce methane emissions and flaring,” said TIPRO president Ed Longanecker. “Permian Basin producers are at the forefront of energy development for their ingenuity, leadership and dedication to minimising their impact on the environment.”
TIPRO added that, relative to other reserves, the Permian basin flares less than its global counterparts. Russia, one of the world leaders in oil and gas production, has a flaring intensity that is 143% higher than the US as a whole.
The trade group pointed to a series of initiatives such as the Texas Methane & Flaring Coalition, established in 2019, that use best-practices to combat methane emissions. Specific companies such as Apache have already met their goal this year of ending routine flaring from their onshore operations.
The international community during the COP26 environment summit in Glasgow is focused on controlling methane, a greenhouse gas that has a warming potential far greater than that of carbon dioxide.
In October, before the summit began, members of the European Parliament voted in favour of binding commitments on methane, calling for the European Commission to introduce mandatory monitoring, reporting and verification measures for all methane-emitting sectors, and mandatory leak detection and repair programmes for the energy and petrochemical sectors.
From the sidelines of COP26, US president Joe Biden unveiled a similar measure. Key components of his plan range from monitoring and eliminating vented gas to performance standards for various upstream operations. The Interior Department, which manages oil and gas operations on public lands and in federal waters, said it aimed to disincentivise flaring of associated gas by proposing that operators pay royalties to the federal government for vented or flared gas.
That proposal has its critics, including TIPRO, which worried the regulations could hurt smaller producers that lack the capital to cope with an extra financial burden. Consumer prices, TIPRO added, will also move significantly higher if a separate tax on natural gas in the White House's Build Back Better reconciliation framework comes to fruition.