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U.S. DOE approves HARC proposal under a non-competitive action to address flaring issues, solutions and technologies

Posting Date: 
Monday, October 29, 2018

Flaring issues vary across the U.S. with complex regulatory, economic and infrastructure frameworks. A team comprised of researchers from the Houston Advanced Research Center (HARC) and the Research Partnership to Secure Energy for America (RPSEA) will evaluate the current state of technologies and regulatory and economic environments, to identify technical and economic solutions for further investigation and demonstration.

“Since 2014, HARC’s research on flare mitigation has allowed industry professionals to discover and evaluate new practices in technology.” said Andra Wilcox, research Scientist from HARC. “It is timely to revisit this initiative. By providing science-based solutions, this project will continue to help address future challenges faced by the oil and gas industry.”

In 2014, HARC’s Environmentally Friendly Drilling Systems (EFD) Program conducted a thorough review regarding flaring mitigation and reduced emissions. This was followed by a series of workshops across the country with participation from operators, service providers, and a broad audience of stakeholders including academia, regulators and NGO’s.

These workshops explored specific needs and issues related to operations to monetize natural gas at the wellhead. Opportunities and technologies, as well as barriers for adaptation, were discussed with these key stakeholders. The overall objective was to identify technologies to monetize stranded gas and reduce or eliminate gas flaring and/or methane emissions associated with production.

In 2015, HARC published the white paper “Recommendations to Address Flaring Issues, Solutions and Technologies.” Funded, in part, by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). The objective of the paper was to provide information, share recommendations, and summarize technologies as new State and Federal Regulations were being promulgated to reduce flaring and venting of natural gas. The report also identified regulator barriers and opportunities to monetize low volume stranded and/or flared gas.

As new regulations have passed, commodity prices have fluctuated and emissions from oil and gas operations have been reduced. However, the gas to oil ratio has increased in some plays. With increased oil production, there are bottlenecks where additional solutions for natural gas are needed. The amount of natural gas that is now used for electrical generation, along with practices, technologies and other alternatives to flaring currently available requires an update to the 2015 white paper.

HARC’s Flaring Issues Solutions and Technologies – 2019 research project and subsequent updated white paper will enable stakeholders to identify cost-effective technologies that address flaring mitigation and enable operating companies to further boost production of American resources. It will also provide regulators and policy makers with vital information. Results from the program may possibly be used by the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) to focus research, development and deployment efforts to increase resiliency within the upstream and midstream oil and gas industry in areas of safety and efficiency.