Does oil extraction waste natural gas?


Following best practices on the oilfield can alleviate the risk of waste.

Following best practices, maximizing the potential of resources and working with the utmost efficiencies are all key elements of a successful operation. This is particularly true on the oilfield, where billions of dollars and the future of the world's energy are at stake. 

An article in the online publication State Impact examines the evolution of fracking and the impact it has had on our energy resources. While fracking and other extraction practices have allowed producers to obtain previously unreachable oil, it may be wasting gas. 

Drilling oil produces methane, but in areas like the Eagle Ford Shale in Texas and the Bakken Shale in North Dakota, producers aren't after methane. And, according to the news source, gas production infrastructure is not at a level where it can effectively allow producers to collect it and sell it. In 2011, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) wrote an analysis about this very issue.

"The necessary natural gas infrastructure—gathering pipelines, processing plants, transportation pipelines—surrounding the Bakken shale has not expanded at the same pace, effectively stranding the natural gas that is produced during oil production," the EIA said. 

In addition to the wasting of natural gas, one major issue is what to do with it once it's released. Some producers, according to the source, release it into the atmosphere, and others flare it by combusting the methane.

Regardless of the strategy, it's important to ensure operations are efficient and safe, both for workers and the environment. Additionally, the mission should ultimately be to reduce the risk of wasted gas. Obtaining the best oilfield equipment can help ensure that best practices are followed in the field, which can help alleviate waste.