“Flaring” at Oil and Gas Wells to Be Curtailed in Colorado
Flaring, the practice of burning off gas from oil and gas wells, will be limited to a handful of state-approved circumstances under the most comprehensive rules in the nation, adopted Thursday by Colorado regulators.
When oil comes out of a well, it is mixed with natural gas, mainly methane. Operators who do not have a way to separate and use or ship the gas through pipelines burn, or flare, it off.
Alaska is the only other state with a flaring rule, limiting the practice to emergencies on producing wells and requiring that the gas either be used or reinjected into the wells. The Colorado rule covers not only producing wells but also drilling and fracking.
“With this rule, Colorado becomes the model for other jurisdictions looking to end routine flaring as communities, investors and leading companies demand action,” Dan Grossman, director of state advocacy for the Environmental Defense Fund, said in a statement.
In 2019, globally there was a 3% increase in gas flared to 159 billion cubic meters, with the U.S. leading with a 23% increase in flared gas, according to the World Bank. The top four countries for flaring in 2019 were Russia, Iran, the U.S., and Iraq.
Texas accounted for half of all the gas flared or vented in the U.S. in 2019, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Nearly 20% of all the gas produced in North Dakota was flared.