Dec 9, 2019

A not-so-good milestone for natural gas

Data: U.S. Energy Information Administration; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

A record amount of U.S. natural gas was released or burned at oil-and-gas well sites last year, EIA data shows.

Why it matters: The report Friday on venting and flaring is latest sign of the oil industry's struggle to rein in climate-warming gases as U.S. oil production surges.

  • Venting releases the powerful GHG methane, while flaring (or burning) produces CO2 emissions and also allows some methane escape.

What they found: Venting and flaring combined averaged a record 1.28 billion cubic feet per day in 2018.

  • "[T]he percentage of U.S. natural gas that was vented and flared increased to 1.25% of gross withdrawals, up from 0.84% the previous year," EIA said.
  • North Dakota and Texas accounted for the lion's share.

Where it stands: Oil wells in North Dakota and Texas, the heart of the U.S. boom, produce "associated" gas volumes that producers are sometimes unable to capture.

  • EIA notes that the crude oil boom has "outpaced the buildout of infrastructure to handle natural gas."
  • The flaring problem is the worst in North Dakota, where 17% of gross gas withdrawals are burned, per EIA.

What they're saying: The increase in Texas and North Dakota is "pretty shocking," per Daniel Raimi, an energy expert with the think tank Resources for the Future.

  • "It's also probably an underestimate of the problem. This has major local and global environmental impacts. Policymakers and industry can do better," he said on Twitter.

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The decade that blew up energy predictions

Illustration: Andrew Witherspoon / Axios

America’s energy sources, like booming oil and crumbling coal, have defied projections and historical precedents over the last decade.

Why it matters: It shows how change can happen rapidly and unexpectedly, even in an industry known to move gradually and predictably. With a new decade upon us, let’s look back at the last one’s biggest, most surprising energy changes.

Go deeperArrowDec 23, 2019

America blows past the world in oil and natural gas

Data: Oil Change International and the Global Gas and Oil Network, with data from Rystad Energy; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

America is poised to produce far more oil and natural gas over the next five years than any other country in the world, according to a new report.

Why it matters: It shows how America, already the world’s largest oil and gas producer, is poised to cement that position, with pivotal implications for geopolitics and climate change.

Go deeperArrowDec 10, 2019

The message behind Chevron's $10 billion write-down

Photo: Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

Chevron announced a $10 billion to $11 billion write-down on several natural gas assets and one of its oil projects in the Gulf of Mexico.

Driving the news: The company said yesterday that the downward revision in its long-term price outlook means that it will "reduce funding to various gas-related opportunities."

Go deeperArrowDec 11, 2019