Activists Want Less Flaring but Continue to Fight Pipelines

Despite all of the rhetoric to the contrary, the need to reduce global emissions is something the oil and natural gas industry and environmental activists alike agree on. And yet, in a move that is completely at odds with their claimed purpose, one of the most logical solutions to help in this effort – building more pipelines to reduce flaring – is something “Keep It In the Ground” activists just cannot accept.

Both the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal have recently called attention to flaring – the practice of burning excess natural gas for either safety or emissions control – using KIITG talking points to paint a misleading picture of how and why the industry flares excess gas in its operations, particularly in the Permian Basin.

The fact remains that natural gas is a valuable commodity, and producers do not actually want to flare it.  As Texas operators continue to increase their production of oil and natural gas, increased pipeline capacity across the state will be needed to help alleviate the natural gas glut and reduce flaring in the Permian Basin.

Unfortunately, the same environmental activist groups calling attention to excess flared gas in the Permian Basin are the very ones that are also opposing the solution, including one of the largest projects proposed for the region: the Permian Highway Pipeline. As these traditional KIITG activist groups join forces with Texas landowners in the central part of the state, they are actively preventing one of the largest natural gas pipelines meant to transport the resource to market and further alleviate the need for flaring.

This continuous opposition is slowing operators’ ability to provide for Texas’ energy security and ultimately leading to higher emissions.

As a large-capacity natural gas pipeline, the Permian Highway Pipeline is designed to transport up to 2 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day. When this and other natural gas pipeline projects come online, operators in the Permian Basin will be able to greatly reduce their current flaring rate.

Of course, flaring is tightly regulated and current activists’ narratives fail to account for the significant progress in reducing methane emissions in the Permian Basin. But there is broad agreement that more can be done to reduce flaring, and projects like the Permian Highway Pipeline are the best step forward to continue environmental progress in the State of Texas. The construction of new pipelines will lead to a continued reduction in methane intensity in the Permian Basin, which has decreased nearly 64 percent in the last seven years.

To some extent flaring will always be a part of oil and natural gas operations, due to a combination of safety, environmental concerns or economic issues. But every cubic foot of natural gas that flows into a pipeline, like the Permian Highway Pipeline, is one that is ultimately delivered to customers instead of flared. And that’s a win-win for Texas’ environment and economy.

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