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New technology looks to capture natural gas while minimizing wasteful flares

Diamondback Energy has invested in Verde Clean Fuels, a renewable energy company that can create more energy efficiency in the Permian Basin for producing gasoline.

MIDLAND, Texas — When driving around the Permian Basin, it is easy to spot many oil pump jacks, and one might also see a burning flare high in the sky.

While it might look productive, it’s actually natural gas that is being wasted.

However, one energy company in West Texas is looking to change that.

Diamondback Energy recently put forth a $20 million equity investment with Verde Clean Fuels, a renewable energy company that creates gasoline in more efficient ways than the refinement of crude oil, such as with natural gas.

This is all in an effort to decarbonize the oilfield by maximizing the resources that are out there.

“Every molecule of gas we can use in the [Permian] Basin offsets a molecule that might be flared elsewhere in the [Permian] Basin," said Ernie Miller, CEO of Verde Clean Fuels.

As technology has evolved through the years, it has had a significant impact on the efficiency in which energy is produced.

Verde Clean Fuels has developed a method called "STG+," or "syngas-to-gasoline plus," that can create the same gasoline in use today, but with less carbon intensity.

“We are able to take natural gas that’s often being flared or is, perhaps, economically disadvantaged, and put it to beneficial use," said Miller. "We can turn it into gasoline that is a lower-carbon gasoline than petroleum-based fuels.”

Lower-carbon gasoline is created more efficiently, with fewer emissions, making it more environmentally friendly.

Maximizing the capture of natural gas would help minimize the amount of flaring, a reality that would also benefit the production of oil.

“And that, in turn, makes every barrel of oil produced in the [Permian] Basin a little bit less carbon intensive, because the whole system is being more efficiently utilized," said Miller.

Miller is excited for Verde Clean Fuels' relationship with Diamondback Energy and the opportunity they have in the Permian Basin to turn a wasted resource into a usable product.

“Resources are scarce, they’re valuable, they are costly to produce or to capture, and so, any waste or misuse of that type of resource is an opportunity," said Miller.

Verde Clean Fuels will also use it's "SGT+" technology to build gasoline through plant-based molecules that will be even less carbon intensive than gasoline that is produced through natural gas.

That process will begin in Arizona in 2025, as the renewable energy company looks to continue to help global decarbonization efforts.

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