US oil supermajor Exxon has announced it will cease all routine gas flaring in the Permian Basin and urges other shale well operators to follow suit.
The aim of Exxon’s radical move is to begin the phase out of the practice and as a further step to achieve this, the fossil fuel giant has also called on toughening flaring regulations.
Over the last few years, environmentalists have been expressing concern about the practice of gas flaring, as it releases large amounts of methane – a greenhouse gas (GHG), considered to be more potent than CO2 – into the atmosphere.
An added benefit to putting an end to the practice of flaring is the increased amount of natural gas that an operator can produce, which is important in today’s market.
Furthermore, Exxon claims that reducing methane emissions is a cheaper and more effective way to reduce the industry’s GHG emissions in general, as opposed to having oil producers pay for their Scope 3 emissions.
To demonstrate the benefits of stopping gas flaring, Exxon plans to launch satellites that will track emissions in the Permian, and the company has already invested in directing some of the gas from the oil production process in the area to a pipeline, which is believed to be the best way to handle methane emissions.
The oil and gas giant also plans on investing another $17 billion on slashing its overall emissions over the coming four years.
The funds are expected to go towards, among other things, putting a stop to flaring and setting up more carbon capture and storage (CCS) facilities.
However, these plans have not been met with approval from environmentalists, as they essentially mean there will be no reduction in the production of fossil fuels in the foreseeable future.