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Flaring is the candle-like flame in the distance long before the natural gas production or processing facilities below it come into clear view. In both production and processing operations, flare stacks are used to burn off unprocessed natural gas. Ground-level flares in an earthen pit are less visible, but may also be in use.

Unlike crude oil that can be stored in tanks after extraction, natural gas must be immediately piped, sent to a processing facility or vented through a controlled flaring process. In production operations, flaring is commonly used when pipeline infrastructure has not been built to allow for transportation of the natural gas. As an operational efficiency process, flaring can also help to control the pressure, flow and composition of the gas from a well.

Flaring is also used as a safety process at natural gas processing and treating facilities. Flares serve as an outlet to release gas in the system in a controlled, safe manner, thereby reducing the risk of fire at the site.

Most will agree that oil and gas production is vital to our economy. At the same time, we are all concerned about the environment and have a desire to find ways to efficiently capture and process resources in an environmentally friendly way. An expanded pipeline infrastructure in the U.S. will help reduce the need for flaring without impacting natural gas production.