The future of Big Oil flaring and the climate challenge


Pumpjacks operate in the snow in the Permian Basin in Midland, Texas, U.S, on Saturday, Feb. 13, 2021.

Matthew Busch | Bloomberg via Getty Images

When a raging snowstorm and frigid temperatures hit Texas last month, oil and gas behemoths responsible for producing the lion share of the nation’s reserves, including Exxon, Occidental and Marathon Petroleum, shut down production at oil wells and refineries across the state.

For many oil producers in the Permian Basin of West Texas and New Mexico, the shutdown put upstream and downstream operations in a squeeze. Downstream, multiple refining operations flared during shutdowns, releasing air pollutants from processing units. Upstream, as oil…


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