Amid West Texas Oil Boom, Wasteful Natural Gas Flares Are On The Rise

Nov 14, 2017

Credit todbaker / Flickr Creative Commons

The oil boom continues in the Permian Basin region of West Texas, and with the boom comes an increase in natural gas flares. According to The San Antonio Express-News, natural gas flaring in the Permian Basin rose significantly from 2009 to 2014.

Companies sometimes flare natural gas when it is not cost effective to store, transport, or sell the gas. The flaring of natural gas has been found to be dangerous and wasteful, and the process results in a great deal of pollution.

Reasons for flaring include a lack of access to natural-gas pipelines, low natural gas prices, and eased regulations that allow for flaring. In the current market, oil is more profitable than natural gas, so many producers simply drill for the oil and view the accompanying natural gas as a byproduct, rather than a source of its own revenue.

The flaring of gas is not an across-the-board issue, however. Some companies burn a great deal of gas, while others set more responsible standards for themselves.