Railroad Commission hears recommendations on flaring issue

A gas flare burns near a crude oil facility outside Williston, North Dakota. With OPEC ceding control for the first time since the 1980s, U.S. shale oil has been anointed the world’s new “swing producer” by everyone from ConocoPhillips and Goldman Sachs to former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan. Illustrates SHALE (category f) by Lynn Doan and Dan Murtaugh (c) 2015, Bloomberg News. Moved Monday, April 20, 2015 (MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg News photo by Daniel Acker).

On Tuesday, June 16, the Railroad Commission of Texas heard from the state’s oil and gas trade associations, environmental advocacy groups, and several oil and gas producers about the issue of flaring. The organizations offered ideas on how Texas can implement reforms to reduce flaring before oil and gas activity returns to previous highs.

“I am very concerned by the rate of flaring in Texas,” said Chairman Christian. “We cannot continue to waste this much natural gas and allow the practice of flaring to tarnish the reputation of our state’s thriving energy sector to the general public and investors on Wall Street.”

Commissioners heard testimony from Trammell Crow (EarthX), Cyrus Reed (Sierra Club), Colin Leyden (Environmental Defense Fund), Kirk Edwards (Latigo Petroleum), Stephanie Reed (Parsley Energy), Mike Starrett (Occidental Petroleum), Ben Sheppard (Permian Basin Petroleum Association), Jason Modglin (Texas Alliance of Energy Producers), Ed Longanecker (Texas Independent Producers and Royalty Owners Assoc.), and Todd Staples (Texas Oil and Gas Assoc.). You can view today’s testimony here (Timecode:1:05:40).

During the meeting, trade associations involved in the Blue Ribbon Taskforce for Oil Economic Recovery unveiled their report titled ‘Flaring Recommendations & Best Practices’. You can read the full report here. Recommendations include reducing the time an administrative approval can be provided for flaring by 50% and providing much greater clarity on data submissions to improve the information we have on flaring in the state.

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After hearing the invited testimony, Chairman Christian instructed commission staff to consider the information provided by all parties to come up with a plan of action for addressing flaring this fall.

“The Texas oil and gas industry is resilient and has led our nation to American energy dominance,” said Christian. “I have faith we can meet this challenge and ensure the lone star state sets an example for the rest of the world.”