There seems to be some confusion regarding EPA’s 40 CFR, Part 98 — how exactly does it affect oil and gas producers? The rule stipulates that burners that are 5 MBTU/day or less do not need to be quantified and reported on. This would include the burners that are on separators since they are in the 3 MBTU/day range. That’s the good news.
However, flares that are at well sites are required to be quantified and reported. Some operators may file an appeal with the EPA on the basis that the ECD (environmental control device) flares, typical in the DJ Basin for instance, are in the < 5 MBTU category, and therefore should not be included in the regulation. The producers have to report the number of burners that are < 5 MBTU, or the number of separators that they have.
What is interesting about the flares is that not every basin in the U.S. even requires flares. In most cases the excess methane is expelled to atmosphere rather than burned off with the flare. The actual number of burners that are on separators (5 MBTU or less) far outnumbers the number of flares in the country. So the amount of greenhouse gases emitted from the 5 MBTU or less burners is potentially far greater than the GHG emitted from flares. Stay tuned for further developments.