- Aug 29, 2021 7:32 pm GMT
Concerned about the global warming effects of fugitive methane emissions? Robert Howarth and Mark Z. Jacobson certainly are. In a recent article that has garnered international attention, the high profile professors from Cornell and Stanford assert that high levels of fugitive methane emissions render any use of natural gas no better than coal. Wow! Talk about turning against the common wisdom!
Turns out, though, that there's a simple fix for the problem of methane leakage from the oil and gas system: increase the use of natural gas!
If that sounds facetious, well, it is. Sort of.
But only "sort of". Because what it comes down to is that the problem of methane leakage into the atmosphere has very little to do with the consumption of natural gas per se. It's fundamentally an economic problem. The price of natural gas is too low. Increase the demand for natural gas, and the price will rise. When the price rises, voilà! The biggest source of methane leakage promptly shrinks!
That "biggest source of methane leakage" is gas flaring. That's the topic of the article I'm sharing here. (Click "Read More", below) It has a lot of useful detail about why gas is flared, why it's bad for the environment, and what can be done about it. And no, increasing the use of natural gas is no long term solution. But it's true that the 4% of associated gas estimated to be wasted by flaring and venting from oil wells in the Permian and other shale basins is "low hanging fruit" for increasing the supply of natural gas in response to increased demand. No drilling required!
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