Operators explain how they eliminated routine flaring

Many oil and gas companies have announced plans to end routine flaring in the near future and promise net zero emissions – in the near future.

And some companies are already keeping those promises. Apache Corp., for example, announced earlier this month that it had ended routine flaring in its onshore operations in the United States – three months ahead of schedule. Midland’s Diamondback Energy announced in its sustainability report last month that it plans to phase out routine flaring by 2025.

Clay Bretches, executive vice president of operations at Apache Corp., told Reporter-Telegram via email that the first step to ending routine flaring was with company leadership setting the goal and communicating clear goals. within the team to achieve it.

“We have reviewed our assets and identified opportunities where we could make additional investments to further reduce flaring,” he wrote. “Some of these investments included adding compression, where needed, to ensure gas has sufficient pressure to enter existing pipelines and optimizing facilities to maximize the gas we can sell. We also laid pipes to connect to the collection systems. We have also made a commitment that in the future we will not bring new onshore production online in the United States without adequate infrastructure to transport the product to processing plants and outlets. “

One obstacle Apache addressed was the need for connections to collection systems in certain areas, Bretches said, by installing the necessary pipe or, in limited cases, shutting down wells. He said the few locations that have been closed will be back online as soon as the connections are complete.

“One hurdle we didn’t encounter was the long-haul takeout capability. Prior to 2021, Altus Midstream, the majority-owned midstream company by Apache, had invested more than $ 850 million in two new pipelines. And Apache has made firm transportation commitments on both pipelines to help underwrite and secure construction of this infrastructure. We believe this investment in capacity was important and necessary to get the gas to market, significantly reducing the practice of flaring for operators throughout the Permian Basin, ”Bretches wrote.

“It’s something we don’t have to waste,” said Ryan Keys, president and co-founder of Triple Crown Resources. “It makes us money if we don’t burn.”

Keys applauded Apache’s efforts to eliminate routine flaring, noting that some of Apache’s assets are adjacent to the Triple Crown holdings.

Speaking to the Reporter-Telegram by phone, Keys said good planning to avoid routine flaring can pay off for the operator and royalty owners.

“This is our most profitable product,” he continued, noting that the cost of repairing leaks is quickly reimbursed.

His company has been aggressive in combating emissions and flaring, even making presentations and writing articles on the subject in order to share the company’s experiences and best practices.

“That something that we had years ago. We have installed new infrastructure, battery tanks, collection lines, ”said Keys.

He said the cost, in addition to paying for overflight investigations for the leaks, was around $ 7,500 and the repairs were completed within a week. It was astonishing to realize how much more gas was subsequently captured, he said.

“It is obvious. It’s profitable. Why would anyone fight this? ” He asked. “The only reason is they don’t understand the economics of leaks. Otherwise, they cut their noses to annoy their faces.

The public often sees such announcements from large multinational operators or large independents like Pioneer Natural Resources and Diamondback, Keys said, but the efforts of smaller operators, like Triple Crown, can show that companies of all sizes can be successful. the effort.

His company has a smaller investor base and is backed by private capital, he said. The company’s stock investors understand the effort and like to brag about supporting a company that leads efforts to reduce flaring and emissions.

In addition to fixing the leaks, Keys said Triple Crown is working to certify its production as responsibly sourced.

“We can sell it a bit more because people want responsibly sourced energy. There are 100 reasons to do it and no reason not to do it, ”he said. “At the end of the day, consumers win because they have found cheaper sources of gas and can lower their electricity bills and the environment is protected. It is literally a situation where everyone on the planet wins.

He recalled the first time he shared the company’s efforts, noting that he was mobbed after the presentation. In fact, he said he received an email from someone in Australia inquiring about Triple Crown’s efforts.

Like Triple Crown, Bretches said Apache will partner with other companies through its membership in the American Petroleum Institute’s Environmental Partnership, One Future, and the Texas Methane and Flaring Coalition.

“These are voluntary coalitions where members share best environmental practices and commit to reducing emissions,” he commented.

Eliminating routine flaring and reducing emissions takes a little effort, Keys said, but the industry can lead the way.

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