Natural gas acquired as a byproduct of oil extraction has become synonymous with wasted energy. In certain areas, drilling companies are unable to find a profitable market for the excess fuel. It’s often vented into the atmosphere. Startups are now offering on-site systems that utilize the surplus to mine cryptocurrencies. This new business is growing in regions where shale oil and gas extraction are major industries.
Fossil Fuels Aren’t Going Anywhere
At least for the foreseeable future, traditional energy sources such as oil and gas are here to stay. Their abundance and relatively low price compared to some renewables, their utility, mobility and well developed supporting infrastructure are hard to beat. However, despite these obvious advantages, getting them out of the ground can sometimes be a wasteful process.
Electricity is the primary cost of bitcoin mining and while coin minting is often powered by renewables like hydro, energy from traditional sources is widely used as well. Cryptocurrency mining can utilize the surplus fuel that would otherwise be wasted, and the oil and gas industry is a good example of this. With the spread of alternative methods of extraction to even remote, hard-to-access places, the need for on-site consumers grows.
New shale oil wells have been popping up across North America and other parts of the world in the past few years. They are often located far from potential markets, and the transportation of certain byproducts such as methane and other compounds forming natural gas is not always economically viable, because grid prices are too low or because expensive additional infrastructure is needed to transport the fuel.