The Permian Basin in West Texas is the largest fossil-fuel producing region in the United States. It's arguably one of the richest and most productive energy powerhouses on the planet. Pockets of trapped natural gas and other fossil fuels have been sedimenting here for millennia, waiting for extraction.
You can find all the supermajor energy players here, including Shell, BP, Chevron, ExxonMobil, and ConocoPhillips. French company Total is the only major oil company that's not present.
More than a half of America's drilling rigs are operating in the Permian, producing 4 million barrels of oil a day and 75 trillion cubic feet of gas.
The basin emits about 2.9 million tons of methane a year, equivalent to the whole of Hong Kong's or Florida's emissions. Florida is the 3rd most populous state in the US, while the Perma Basin is a long region of sedimentary grounds.
So, what if the activity in Permian Basin suddenly destroys your water, air, and land?
Oil and Gas Sustainability
Sharon Wilson is one of many. She used to work for oil and gas and lived in the wast Texa's countryside, raising her boys.
Her idyllic story turned dark when the water turned black. She called for help, but no one came.
"No one came because it has to do with oil and gas. If it has to do with oil and gas, no one is coming. You're on your own," said Sharon for Bloomberg.
Left on her own, she picked up a camera and went out to face oil giants. She discovered that most of the extraction rigs leak out massive amounts of methane. Methane is invisible to the naked eye. But Sharon can track the leaks with an optical gas imaging camera.
Companies are wasting tons of natural gas that people would otherwise pay money to consume. While it's devastating for the environment, it also makes little economic sense to keep the plants running this way. When these companies don't burn methane, they look more presentable but further damage the environment: less CO2 but more Methane leaks into the atmosphere.
Less pollution is in everybody's interest here, including the oil companies.
French ban on U.S. gas Imports
The Permian Basin was an untouchable staple of modern energy. But not anymore. The French government has recently stomped on a massive energy deal in the area. Shockwaves rocked the whole industry.
"The French government, which is a part-owner of Engie, stepped in to tell Engie’s board of directors to delay, if not outright cancel, any deal because of concerns that U.S. natural gas producers emit too much methane at the West Texas oil and gas fields," reports Politico.
We're not sure if the fact that the French supermajor is not present in the Permian Basin has something to do with this decision. But, on the other hand, EU countries seem adamant about executing the European New Green Deal and limiting the use of fossil fuels on the Urban Continent.
Where Sharon Wilson couldn't get help, the French government changed the industry.
The Most Studied Geological Region in the World
Scientists have spent centuries studying the Basin.
Today, The Permian is the most well-studied sedimentary region in the world, according to Britannica. It's rich in petroleum, natural gas, and potassium reserves.
While the incentive to change didn't strike the major players until recently, now the whole region is getting an overhaul. Oil companies are aware of the overall sentiment.
Besides the French, consumers are also investing more time researching the sustainability profile of their decisions. Many eat less meat because of this very reason. Others try to shop less and recycle more. And, many wonders where does the energy in their homes comes from.
The energy coming from the Basin had a poor sustainability profile, according to the French government. This decision has nudged supermajor oil companies to invest more effort into creating a better product for the consumer, or at least a less damaging one.
But not everybody is ready to trust Supermajors just yet.
"I've been hearing their promises for over a decade now. It's like forgiving your cheating lover one more time," said Sharon Wilson for Bloomberg.
If the companies leak less unused gas and focus on purifying their product, it would become a decision America could agree on together.
Better gas is better for Texas.
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