Flaring is the process of burning natural gas which cannot be harnessed to produce oil. It was once a general norm. This has angered environmentalists as flaring causes global warming, air pollution and is a waste of a natural resource. The current main reason for flaring is the high prices of oil over natural gas.
Companies such as EOG and Cheasapeake Energy have hastened the process of finding crude oil in areas of North Dakota and Texas.
Oil wells are accompanied by gas. Companies are trying to enhance the pipeline production which is essential to transport gas to the main markets. Unlike gas, oil can be easily stored and transported to the market.
The assistant director of the North Dakota oil and gas division, Bruce Hicks stated that the oil prices are very high as compared to gas. He also said that the driving force for the current scenario is oil prices.
In North America, the oil drilling rigs have doubled compared to the number of rigs last year.
Total 537 gas flaring permits were issued by the Texas Railroad Commission from September 2010 to July 2011.
Flaring of natural gas has increased in North Dakota by 1200 percent from the year 2004.
There is almost no protest in flaring for Eagle Ford and Bakken as it is mostly in rural areas. However there is more monitoring for Barnett as it is in an urban area.
A representative of the consumer group public citizen stated that global warming and air pollution is unavoidable is flaring is to be used. The sentiment expressed was that there is no need to add more to global warming with the already rising warm climate.
Companies state that flaring cannot be currently halted, especially where the pipeline infrastructure to transport gas is poor.
The flaring by Cheasaspeake is closely scrutinised according to regulations and is done only on a need basis.
Analysts are of the combined opinion that flaring is a waste of a natural source of energy.
State officials as well as energy companies are eager to enhance pipeline infrastructure to bring down flaring. There is no revenue generated from flaring as opposed to transport of gas to markets.
The energy analyst at Hodges Capital Management in Dallas, Mike Breard stated that that there is no option to flaring as the pipeline infrastructure is not on par with the number of wells rigged.