This opinion piece presents the opinions of the author.
Many people outside the oil and gas industry wonder why producers seem to be wasting natural gas by flaring it into the air for no apparent reason.
There happens to be a number of very good reasons, as pointed out by Omar Garcia, President of the South Texas Energy and Economic Roundtable, in a recent article in the San Antonio Express News.
A key reason for flaring is safety. “When equipment or pipes become over-pressured, safety valves within the equipment automatically engage to send gas into flare stacks until pressures reach a safe level,” Garcia said.
Oil and natural gas wells are drilled miles beneath the Earth and under extreme temperatures and pressure. All precautions must be taken to prevent a blowout, an uncontrolled gushing of fluids that threatens lives and property. When pressures reach certain levels, the safety valves release natural gas and it ignites creating a flare.
Flaring involves burning off natural gas in a pre-approved manner that is regulated by the Texas Railroad Commission.
Flaring prevents potential health and safety problems. Natural gas in its raw form can be very harmful if breathed by humans and animals. It must be monitored, tested and controlled. Natural gas is very volatile, too. If not properly handled, it can ignite and cause massive explosions.
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