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DOE Invests Nearly $32 Million in Technologies To Help Eliminate Natural Gas Flaring at Oil and Gas Production Operations
Funding Opportunity Announcement

Washington, D.C. — The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management (FECM) today announced four research and development projects selected to receive nearly $32 million to advance technologies that will help reduce natural gas flaring at oil production sites, a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions, by transforming gas into valuable products that would otherwise be wasted by those operations. These projects support President Biden’s U.S. Methane Emissions Reduction Action Plan, which launched a whole-of-government initiative to redouble efforts to significantly reduce methane emissions while protecting workers and communities, growing jobs, and promoting U.S. technology innovation. Aligned with this action is the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) new rule tackling wasteful methane emissions and the Administration’s pledge that the United States will work with global partners to reduce the world’s methane emissions 30% from 2020 levels by 2030.

“Flaring of natural gas at oil production sites results in harmful greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change,” said Brad Crabtree, Assistant Secretary of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management. “The projects announced today will demonstrate innovative, efficient technologies that will not only help to eliminate emissions from flaring, but also will enable the use of these resources to manufacture marketable products like sustainable chemicals.”

The United States relies heavily on domestic natural gas for residential, commercial, and industrial energy use. Yet each year billions of cubic feet of natural gas are wasted through routine flaring, which is the process of burning unused natural gas at the production well using a dedicated flare to ignite the methane and other components in the gas. Methane emissions are caused by incomplete burning of natural gas in flares, which are particularly prevalent in U.S. onshore oil production on private lands, where producers have often been allowed to flare the associated gas produced with oil in the absence of adequate available natural gas transportation via local pipeline.

The selected projects will focus on pilot-scale field deployment and validation of efficient, cost-effective solutions that aim to eliminate routine flaring of natural gas at the well site and will be ready for pre-commercialization in real world applications.

  • M2X Energy Inc. (Rockledge, Florida) will deploy a small modular gas-to-methanol plant  to convert stranded associated gas, which is currently flared, to low-carbon methanol at an oil well site in the Williston Basin of North Dakota.
  • Pioneer Energy (Lakewood, Colorado) will field test the emission control treater—a new well pad processing technology that replaces existing equipment while eliminating nearly all methane emission sources on the pad—at a well site in the Denver-Julesburg Basin of Colorado.
  • Prabhu Energy Labs (Mission Viejo, California) will develop and test a patented high-temperature heat exchanger at oil/gas well sites in the Green River Basin, Wyoming and other locations to obtain useful energy from gases currently being flared or vented.
  • University of North Dakota, Energy & Environmental Research Center (Grand Forks, North Dakota) will demonstrate at well sites in the Williston Basin of North Dakota the economic application, gas capture efficiency, and performance of a patented technology developed to eliminate flaring.

DOE’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL), under the purview of FECM, will manage the selected projects. Additional details about the selected projects can be found here.

The selected project teams were required, as part of their applications, to submit Community Benefits Plans to demonstrate meaningful engagement with and tangible benefits to the communities in which these projects will be located. These plans provide details on their commitments to community and labor engagement, quality job creation, diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility, and benefits to disadvantaged communities as part of the Justice40 Initiative.

FECM minimizes environmental and climate impacts of fossil fuels and industrial processes while working to achieve net-zero emissions across the U.S. economy. Priority areas of technology work include carbon capture, carbon conversion, carbon dioxide removal, carbon dioxide transport and storage, hydrogen production with carbon management, methane emissions reduction, and critical minerals production. To learn more, visit the FECM websitesign up for FECM news announcements, and visit the NETL website.