Texas Oil Body Makes It a Little Harder for Wells to Flare Gas

As the Texas Railroad Commission shortens the flaring window for a Permian well, a commissioner says alternatives should be sought to avoid waste.

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A flare lights up the oil fields surrounding Midland, Texas.
Credit: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg.

Getting a permit to burn excess natural gas at Texas oil wells is getting a little bit harder.

Texas Railroad Commissioners limited an oil driller to flaring gas for just 1 year as opposed to the 2 years it sought at a meeting on 14 September. The commission approved 31 other requests from oil and gas companies, including five more to flare gas, without any changes.

Commissioner Jim Wright said a well not having pipeline service is no longer a good enough reason to flare, the industry practice of burning off natural gas produced as a byproduct of drilling for oil. The comments mark a shift in thinking at the agency, which has been widely criticized for rubber stamping thousands of flaring permits without requiring oil companies to come up with a plan to curb the practice.

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