The number of permits to flare natural gas from wells in Texas increased in 2011 from 2009, according to data from the Texas Railroad Commission (TRC).
TRC reported that 651 permits were filed to flare gas from wells, up from 306 permits for gas flaring filed in 2010 and 158 permits in 2009.
The majority of flaring permits requests that TRC received are for flaring casing head gas from oil wells, as TRC does not issue long-term permits for flaring from natural gas wells, a TRC spokesperson Ramona Nye.
"To put these numbers in context, Texas currently has more than 144,000 active oil wells, so flaring involves just a small fraction of the state's oil wells," Nye commented.
Both oil and gas wells are allowed under TRC rules to flare during the drilling phase and up to 10 days after a well's completion for potential testing. Rare exception for long-term flaring from a gas well may be made in cases where the well or compressor require repairs.
Flaring is typically necessary because new wells do not have pipeline connections, which are not built until after a well is completed and the well's productive capability is determined.
Initial permits are issued for 45 days, requiring the operator to provide documentation that they have made progress on establishing a pipeline connection to the well if they want an additional time period to flare.
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