A yearlong investigation by the San Antonio Express-News shows that gas flares spreading across the Eagle Ford Shale are burning and wasting billions of cubic feet of natural gas.
Texas regulators didn’t know how much gas was going to waste in the shale region. But the Express-News analyzed the state’s own records and found no other region in Texas is flaring as much gas as the Eagle Ford Shale.
Gas flaring is a serious problem not only because of waste but also because it emits large amounts of CO2 and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere creating a huge environmental crisis.
Gas flaring occurs for several reasons. One is the lack of pipelines to transport natural gas from the wellbore to a processing plant. Another is the low price of gas in comparison to the costs of transport and processing.
Every year, approximately 140-150 billion cubic meters (bcm) of natural gas is flared into the atmosphere. According to calculations by the World Bank, that’s equivalent to three quarters of Russia’s gas exports, or almost one third of the European Union’s gas consumption. From an environmental perspective 140-150 bcm of flared natural gas translates into 270-290 million tons of C02 emissions per year.
The U.S. is now the fifth largest flaring country, after Russia, Nigeria, Iran and Iraq, having displaced Algeria in 2011.
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