|OMB Gets BLM Proposal to Cut Gas Flaring, Venting|
On September 18, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) set a proposed rule to reduce the amount of flaring and venting of natural gas from oil and gas wells on federal and Indian lands to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for interagency review. Details of the proposal have not been released, but the options are limited, and the rule most likely would increase costs for oil and gas operations. Regulatory options being considered by the BLM can be seen in a 2014 public outreach document that includes details on best practices for various phases of work at wells, including completion, production testing, well purging, and regular production.
"The proposed standards would establish requirements and incentives to reduce waste of gas and clarify when royalties apply to lost gas," according to a regulatory notice posted on the Office of Management and Budget's website. Capturing more of the natural gas that is currently vented, flared or leaked to the environment could increase domestic production and yield a greater royalty return to the U.S. Treasury. It could also reduce the escape of methane, a potent greenhouse gas that is the main constituent in natural gas.
The BLM public outreach document from 2014 on regulatory options for stricter limits on venting and flaring of gas is available at http://on.doi.gov/1QtfTHG. EPA white papers on practices and technologies involved in the issue of gas venting and flaring, including much that could be regulated by the BLM, are available at http://www3.epa.gov/airquality/oilandgas/methane.html.