Flaring safely burns gases such as propane and methane, and should always be minimized as much as practicable. Flaring methane reduces its greenhouse gas impact by converting it to carbon dioxide and water. In some cases, natural gas produced as part of oil production, known as associated gas, is also flared prior to the establishment of gas gathering infrastructure. Often during early stages of exploration and development of oil and gas resources, there is an initial phase to evaluate the commerciality of the resource, before capital investment into new infrastructure is made.
In the Bakken formation and Permian Basin, XTO has put in place management systems to reduce flaring by monitoring and investing in flowlines and additional gas treating infrastructure and working with third parties to support further infrastructure investments and development. For example, XTO invested more than $10 million to expand process capacity at its Nesson gas plant in North Dakota, which came online in 2013 and significantly increased gas handling capability to 25 million cubic feet per day.