MMS issues final rule on gas flaring, venting on offshore leases

The US Minerals Management Service published a final rule on Apr. 16 setting limits on flaring or venting of natural gas into the atmosphere from wells on federal offshore leases.

Nick Snow
OGJ Washington Editor

WASHINGTON, DC, Apr. 19 -- The US Minerals Management Service published a final rule on Apr. 16 setting limits on flaring or venting of natural gas into the atmosphere from wells on federal offshore leases. The rule also amends regulations that limit production rates from offshore wells, it said.

The rule establishes criteria for flaring and venting, and sets limits on the time gas may be flared or vented during situations, according to MMS. It said while the vast majority of gas produced offshore is captured and brought to market, the rule recognizes that small amounts of flaring and venting sometimes are necessary, such as when equipment fails to work properly and the operator must divert flowing gas to a controlled flare or vent system for safety reasons.

MMS said the final rule requires installation of meters to accurately measure all flared and vented gas on facilities that process more than 2,000 b/d of oil—a change based on a recommendation from the Government Accountability Office. In a report, “Natural Gas Flaring and Venting—Opportunities to Improve Data and Reduce Emissions,” GAO said MMS should keep more accurate records to determine the amount of gas flared or vented, and the volumes of greenhouse gases that such releases contributed to the atmosphere each year.

While it has monitored total amounts of gas flared and vented from federal offshore leases in the past, operators have not been required to differentiate between the two categories, MMS said. They will be required to report flaring and venting volumes separately to the agency under the new rule to improve data collection, it said.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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