TX Flaring: Texas Oil Regulator Signals Flaring Crackdown After Backlash

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Texas Oil Regulator Signals Flaring Crackdown After Backlash


(Bloomberg) -- Texas’s energy regulator is taking an uncharacteristically critical approach toward burning off excess natural gas, a sign that growing pressure from environmentalists and investors to curb the controversial practice is paying off.

The Texas Railroad Commission on Tuesday deferred a series of applications belonging to oil companies including Ovintiv Inc. One such request sought to flare more than $1 million worth of gas because it would be too expensive to build a pipeline to haul the fuel to markets, a claim the agency’s newest member said warranted “further investigation.”

“Flaring is a necessary last resort during an upset, and we have work to do internally at the commission to ensure that we are not approving requests that go beyond that,” Jim Wright, one of three Republican commissioners, said in a statement following the meeting.

The commission is at the center of criticism over the shale industry’s prolific flaring problem given the panel’s record of approving virtually every permit that comes before it. In the past, commissioners have argued that more stringent regulations would have the effect of discouraging some oil production, thereby wasting the state’s natural resources. But a recent report by Rystad Energy found that 40% of future flaring could be avoided at no cost to oil companies.

During Tuesday’s meeting, both Wright and fellow Commissioner Wayne Christian spoke about routine flaring -- industry jargon for burning that isn’t necessitated by pipeline malfunctions or other short-term events.

“For years the commission has been acting like this isn’t an issue, so it’s exciting to see that they now want to end routine flaring,” said Emma Pabst, a climate advocate for Environment Texas. “They’re feeling the heat both from investors and environmentalists alike.”

During flaring, most of the methane -- a potent greenhouse gas -- is eliminated from the gas stream, but the remaining emissions include carbon dioxide. While CO2 tends to be the focus of environmentalists and some investors, the Railroad Commission views the issue as one relating to waste. Recently, the agency noted the need for policies that help make the shale industry more attractive to Wall Street.

“Getting an exception for our flaring rules should not be easy,” Christian said Tuesday. “Staff should ask tougher questions, follow-up questions and generally just dig deeper.”

It’s unclear whether the latest remarks by commissioners signal an actual reduction in flaring permits is in the offing. At a previous meeting, Wright delayed decisions on several BP Plc permit applications, which received approval on Tuesday.

The London-based oil major, which had previously called on the regulator to commit to ending routine flaring, was seeking permits to flare at 121 sites until April 2022. BP said last month that its request for permits was not inconsistent with its long-term plan to reduce flaring.


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21 hours ago, ceo_energemsier said:

It’s unclear whether the latest remarks by commissioners signal an actual reduction in flaring permits is in the offing. At a previous meeting, Wright delayed decisions on several BP Plc permit applications, which received approval on Tuesday.

Same same, "we'll check into it." Not enough pipe run in the Delaware to "take-away" all the excess and garbage gases. A "feel-good" story with no happy ending for the foreseeable future. 

Edited by Old-Ruffneck

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I would just "ban" this at a federal level (btw I assume you know about mixed reality goggles. you can "see" the spectra of methane with the next generation WebXR app called a web browser 😛). The climate is *global* (this is like the tantra) so more treaties are needed for all of humanity. For example (from a physical sense, what we do here has an effect the other side of the globe. if you had multiple CAT5 problems recently, which one would you fix?. What happened to bipartisan action on climate related stuff? The interior department was started on TR's clock and he ended up on Mount Rushmore.  Do you remember when the Kyoto Protocol was torpedoed by the Russians in the late 90s because of the price of NG? We don't need much NG anymore. We need more clean fuels. We may not even need much electrons anymore. You can theoretically create the flow of information with skyrmions (but I wouldn't recommend walking into a MRI chamber without removing ferromagnetic stuff yet!)

This is all caused by some failures in people's interest in stay updated with "info". In the 2020s a more global internet will make an addressable market 7.3 billion people with your "audience". Probably starlink + 5g let you "say hello" (it's like some digital omnipresense?) to many more people on the globe way faster than before. 

Protip: The "immersion" of the new WebXR-based mixed reality googles you can see the methane leaks (these were "tech" invented to "see" stuff on mars originally @ Caltech/JPL. I later saw them in Austin so those "hookups" were "introduced" to "each other" (via a semantically variant API youinstantlyyreleasee new "patches" every day. why is this good? *critical infastructure* digital computers are prone to horrible stuff in the last 20 years. think about SPECTRE/MELTDOWN. Think about actual nuclear power plants. Its a nightmare). Build chains between companies to let them see other's ethics about *pollution* (I think forwardly towards 2050)/ think about NASA's or NOAA's lessons about relativity and the Gravity Probe B. they are extremely accurate. actually you can do it other ways too, see it from the sky. also regulate it internationally. change incentivization structures. experiment rapidly with what works, then "fix" it the next day (autonomy ftw). remember most computer clocks are made up of very cheap components. how does time work on computers? how does one the huge new scales afforded by leverage quantum information theory? what are resources and resources to consume on a digital (perfect filtering is assumed) on a local basis it's like a commutator. does it matter how big the manifold is?)  Now, for dead mall spaces, you'd want to figure out how tribiology works econophysically. 

Protip: People can't see spectrum they can't see (like weather patterns. wave patterns, noisy patterns, fluctuating patterns, "perfect" digital matching patterns, or pattern matching theory, the theory of quantum information with relativistic effects should be "accounted" for around the globe). This is like moving from 10^10  events to e^e^e^e (or any commutative algebras and non-commutative algebras). What commutes?

Protip: people also generally suck at allocating resources, so maybe the algos should take those over and a qualified one term limited human overseer. Keep in mind overlay meshes are often created and destroyed all the time! ;D 

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I didn't read the entire commentary regarding the backlash against The Texas Railroad Commission, but they caved after being sued by Public Citizen.  This is a group founded by Ralph Nader in 1971 and it's now a major activist organization with offices in Washington D.C. and Austin, Texas.  When I first saw the lawsuit, I thought this was not going anywhere, but then looking at the organization, it actually has different arms, one of which is the Public Citizen Litigation Group.  This is headed by Alan Morrison who argues for the org. from local jurisdictions to the Supreme Court.  They are worth millions so the RR Commission would probably do anything to keep out of a lawsuit by these Green New Deal activists with very very deep pockets.

We'll also see Deb Haaland coming up for approval by the Senate for head of the Department of Interior.  Now this is the creature from the black lagoon.  She's radical and more ego than brains and recently gave herself a pat on the back for bringing the Jackpile Paguate mine into a Superfund category.  She groaned on and on about how the lands were being stripped from her Native American heritage and she would stop oil and gas drilling on federal lands since it didn't serve the tribes.

Meanwhile, back to reality, the Jackpile mine was opened in1953 through1982 for uranium extraction and had 3 tribal leases from the Laguna Pueblo to ARCO.  In 1986 an Agreement was reached between the Laguna Pueblo, Department of Interior and Bureau of Indian Affairs where ARCO paid $43.6 million to the Laguna Pueblo who agreed to handle the reclamation.  Of course, they didn't do it so in 2016 they sued ARCO to break the terms of the Agreement but it was clear that the Laguna Pueblo had the responsibility.  Of course, they lobbied the BIA to let the Pueblo cede its responsibility resulting in inadequate remediation.  It's still in limbo as far as we know and is in Superfund.

So, it should be noted that Haaland is a member of the Laguna Pueblo and was a former Tribal Administrator.  So, she'll have a field day as head of the DOI pouring money into the Jackpile Paguate cleanup, while that 60 day moratorium by Biden on drilling and leasing on federal lands will become permanent.  One more item on Haaland's agenda will be the pipelines.  She is also working with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe that sued to shut down the Dakota Access Pipeline.  So, that pipeline carrying 500,000 barrels will be shuttered after 3 years.  I'm sure we'll also see the Line 5 and Line 3 on the Haaland hit list.  

The weird thing about Haaland's march against oil and gas on federal lands is that  a major producing area of the Permian Basin is located in New Mexico where she is a Congressman.  40% of the NM budget comes from oil and gas royalties and taxes, so she's willing to devastate her state and the tribe she represents to satiate her ego.  At least that's the only conclusion I can come to, or perhaps she is insane.


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