The Biggest US Oil Field Increases Its Output, Still Lowers Its Methane Emissions


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Jason Hopkins Immigration and politics reporter
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Developers in the Permian Basin have successfully increased production while at the same time decreased the amount of methane emissions into the atmosphere.

The Permian Basin, the most productive shale oil formation in the U.S., has dramatically increased its oil and gas output in the past year. Production in the west Texas shale oil play rose from 1.9 million barrels per day in January 2016 to 2.8 million barrels per day by December 2017, according to the Energy Information Administration.

Natural gas also experience substantial growth, with production increasing from 6.5 billion cubic feet per day to 9.3 billion cubic feet per day. Analysts predict the region will keep producing at a higher rate.

At the same time, methane emissions saw a dramatic decrease. Oil and gas developers working in the Permian Basin saw their emissions drop by 100,000 metric tons of CO2 equivalent from 2016 to 2017, according to data provided by the Environmental Protection Agency.

“We’re now the world’s largest producer of oil and gas, thanks in large part to technological innovation in west Texas and southeast New Mexico. Critics of oil and gas development in the Permian Basin have repeatedly cited methane as some sort of Achilles heel, but the facts show otherwise,” Texans for Natural Gas spokesman Steve Everley said in a statement obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation. (RELATED: West Texas Back To Making A Killing Off Oil)

“This is good news that we should be celebrating. Our rise to energy superpower status has not come at the expense of the environment,” Everley continued.

A pump jack used to help lift crude oil from a well in South Texas? Eagle Ford Shale formation stands idle in Dewitt County Texas

A pump jack stands idle in Dewitt County, Texas January 13, 2016. U.S. shale companies, which led the fracking revolution that unlocked vast new supplies of crude from rock, are fast losing their footing as a deeper plunge in oil to below $30 a barrel intensifies a financial tailspin that started more than a year ago. Picture taken on January 13, 2016. REUTERS/Anna Driver

The new numbers come as the Trump administration is actively working to unwind an Obama-era methane rule. The Bureau of Land Management predicts that rolling back the Methane and Waste Prevention Rule — enacted in 2016 — will result in a net savings of $1 billion over the course of ten years for fossil fuel companies.

Greenhouse gas emissions fell overall during Trump’s first year in office. The Environmental Protection Agency determined that emissions — mostly carbon dioxide — dropped 2.7 percent from 2016 to 2017. More specifically, emissions from major power plants dropped 4.5 percent from 2016 levels.

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