U.S. working to cut flaring of natural gas

Interior Department aims to advance technology needed to cut waste and emissions.

By Daniel J. Graeber

WASHINGTON, March 18 (UPI) -- The U.S. government will roll out new standards in the coming months to cut the amount of shale natural gas wasted through flaring, the interior secretary said.

Much of the natural gas associated with shale oil deposits is burned off, or flared, because of a lack of infrastructure needed to utilize the resource.


U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think-tank, that her agency would propose "in the coming months" standards meant to cut emissions and reduce the amount of gas wasted during flaring.

"We will be updating our decades-old standards to encourage the kind of infrastructure and technology that companies I've met with in the Bakken and Permian basins [in North Dakota and Texas, respectively] have demonstrated can reduce harmful emissions and capture the natural gas as a source of energy and revenue for the American people," she said.

RELATED Son of Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore arrested on drug charges

While the Interior Department will do its part, the secretary said part of the onus lies with industry and state leaders.

North Dakota state leaders are among those advocating for a reduction in natural gas flaring. In May, startup company North Dakota LNG announced plans to build a gas processing plant in Tioga, the first of its kind for the state, to reduce flaring.


Texas allows flaring during early production operations, noting the infrastructure necessary to capture gas usually comes online long after preliminary operations. The Texas Railroad Commission, the state's energy regulator, said that, of the total amount of gas reported to the agency, less than 1 percent is reported as flared gas.

Jewel said many of the regulations on the books haven't kept pace with advances in shale basins behind the oil and gas boom in the United States. Many are the same as the ones in place when she was working in the private energy sector more than 30 years ago.

Latest Headlines