The U.S. oil and gas industry faced a unique set of challenges this year but it did not deter the Environmental Partnership from making strides to reduce natural gas flaring in upstream operations.

natural gas flaring

The 80-plus members, which together represent more than 70% of total oil and gas production in the Lower 48, launched its latest performance program to expand on their core mission to reduce gas flaring. The group, which recently added midstream operators, encourages companies of all sizes to join. 

Members share information on best practices, advance technologies and foster collaboration to reduce emissions and collect data to help minimize flaring.

“Despite the challenges this year, the Environmental Partnership continues to grow and advance innovative solutions for a cleaner future,” Director Matthew Todd said. “This commitment to reduce flaring builds on the industry’s progress in reducing methane emissions and is the latest example of how companies are constantly innovating to improve environmental performance while delivering affordable, reliable energy around the world.”

As part of the new program announced earlier this month, members plan to advance best practices, promote the beneficial use of associated gas and improve flare reliability and efficiency when it occurs.

Flaring typically is used by producers when there is a lack of gas gathering lines or processing capacity, as well as during maintenance activities. It sometimes is used for unplanned events as a safety measure to alleviate pressure. In these instances, flaring is considered the safer environmental option. Rather than venting the gas into the air, flaring burns the gas, which releases fewer emissions than venting.

“While U.S. operators have proven it’s possible to increase production while also reducing flaring, our participating companies share the community, shareholder, regulatory and environmental perspective that flaring must be reduced,” said Chevron Corp.’s Vanessa Ryan, who manages the carbon reduction team and chairs the partnership.

To gauge progress each year, participants of the partnership’s Flare Management Program have committed to report data to calculate flare intensity, a measurement of volumes relative to production. The program would analyze and aggregate the data for an annual report and use the insights from the participant’s combined actions and reporting to identify opportunities to further reduce flaring.

“This new Flare Management Program is another tool that will deliver invaluable data to better understand the cause, our progress and inform the future actions needed to minimize flaring,” said Devon Energy Corp.’s Mike Smith, an environmental, health and safety professional who leads the partnership’s program.