By Irina Slav
Carbon dioxide emissions resulting from gas flaring in the Permian are set to fall by one-half during the second half of this year, Rystad Energy said, citing the forced production cuts that most, if not all, producers in the shale play had to implement during the current quarter.
“In 2Q20 a material part of Permian oil production is being curtailed, resulting in an abnormal oil production decline that is supporting emission intensity at a level of 7–8 kg CO2 per barrel, despite continuous deceleration in flaring,” said Rystad’s head of shale research Artem Abramov.
But it will not be just the production cuts that will drive emissions down: “However, assuming that most volumes are brought back in 2H20, we anticipate a significant downward shift in flaring-driven emission intensity,” Abramov also said.
This will be a result of few new well additions during the second half of the year as the price situation will likely remain too weak to motivate investment in new well drilling.
Yet in all fairness, gas flaring had been on a plateau even before the Covid-19 pandemic and the Saudi-Russian price war pushed prices down. According to Rystad data, between November last year and January this year the amount of emissions was flat, at some 500 million cu ft daily before rising to 600 million cu ft daily in February as a number of wells were completed.
Last year, gas flaring in the Permian hit an all-time high of 661 million cu ft daily, driven by insufficient pipeline takeaway capacity that forced producers to flare the associated gas from their oil wells.
Gas flaring is the practice of burning associated gas that comes out of an oil well with the oil. In 2018, the shale boom drove the amount of gas flared in the United States up 48 percent, and the global total up 3 percent to 145 billion cubic meters, according to data from the World Bank.