Eagle Ford Task Force Turns to Natural Gas Flaring

Natural Gas Flare
Natural Gas Flare

The Eagle Ford Task Force is turning its attention to natural gas flaring. Texas set a record for flaring permits earlier in the year and the trend will continue until pipelines and gathering systems catch up with drilling.

In oil producing areas like the Eagle Ford, drilling and first production is reached weeks and sometimes months before pipeline companies get natural gas infrastructure to the area. Oil can be moved with a truck, but natural gas needs pipelines.

Flaring is commonplace in oil producing areas and is very rarely abused. More often than not, flaring lasts only a few days or weeks. It is in the operators best interest to get paid for natural gas they're producing.

The task force plans to work with companies to increase the use of natural gas generators on location. On-site generators can power electric machinery and will help limit the amount of flaring.

A main concern for the region is whether or not the Eagle Ford will push the San Antonio Metro Area over the federal limits for ozone standards. The ozone issue alone will have politicians anxious.

Comments from David Porter indicate the TX RRC is going to review its rules to make sure they are relevant in the modern shale era. I suspect there won't be major changes. Even if big changes come, infrastructure in the Eagle Ford will be catching up and flaring won't be near as prevalent by the time any legislation is enacted.

Natural Gas Flaring in the Bakken Shale and Eagle Ford Shale

Natural gas flaring is on the rise as oil drilling expands in areas of the Eagle Ford Shale and Bakken Shale. Operators often test wells before pipelines are built, which means there is no where for the gas to go. It gets flared until a pipeline is connected to the well site. Operators can also get permits to flare gas for extended periods of time if there is no gas infrastructure in the area. The natural gas is essentially viewed as a by product that doesn't add much value to an oil well. In theory, it sounds okay, but you end up with more natural gas being flared than consumed in places like North Dakota.

Flaring of natural gas from wells is on the upswing in Texas and North Dakota as oil and gas producers rush to develop new shale plays, and critics are not happy about it.

Flaring, once a common practice, involves burning off natural gas that cannot be captured and sold in order to produce more valuable oil. It is frowned upon because it causes air pollution, boosts global warming and wastes natural resources.

Read the full news release at reuters.com