New Delhi: The “needless” gas flaring at oil and gas facilities across the globe pumped around 400 million tons of Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere in 2021, further underscoring the urgency to accelerate the decarbonization of the world’s economies, said a new report from the World Bank’s Global Gas Flaring Reduction Partnership (GGFR).
Satellite data compiled and analyzed for GGFR’s 2022 Global Gas Flaring Tracker Report showed that 144 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas was flared at upstream oil and gas facilities last year.
“In 2021, 144 billion cubic meters of gas was needlessly burnt in flares at upstream oil and gas facilities across the globe, resulting in approximately 400 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent emissions, of which 361 MMtCO2e was in the form of CO2 and 39 MMtCO2e was in the form of methane” said the report.
The report suggested the top 10 flaring countries accounted for 75 percent of all gas flaring and 50 percent of global oil production in 2021.
Seven of the top 10 flaring countries have held this position consistently for the last 10 years: Russia, Iraq, Iran, the United States, Venezuela, Algeria, and Nigeria. The remaining three; Mexico, Libya, and China, have shown significant flaring increases in recent years, the report stated.
Gas flaring is considered both energy waste and global-warming activity. The flared gas in 2021 is more than the European Union’s 27 member states’ gas imports from Russia.
To make sense of its energy potential, the wasted 144 bcm of natural gas would have generated 1,800 terawatt hours of energy or nearly two-thirds of the European Union’s net domestic electricity generation.
“Climate change is one of the defining development challenges of our time. Ending the polluting and wasteful practice of gas flaring and decarbonizing oil and gas production, while also accelerating the transition to cleaner energy, is fundamental to mitigating climate change,” said Demetrios Papathanasiou, Global Director for the Energy and Extractives Global Practice at the World Bank.
The 2022 Global Gas Flaring Tracker, a leading global and independent indicator of gas flaring, finds that reductions in both absolute flare volumes and flaring intensity have stalled in the last decade, despite strong early progress. Impressive reductions in some countries have not offset concerns in others.
According to the report, Flaring and venting reduction play a critical role in mitigating emissions of methane, which is a more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide:
As per estimate, a kilogram of methane emitted into the atmosphere can trap more than 25 times more heat than a kilogram of emitted carbon dioxide.
“Many oil-producing countries already have policies in place to reduce gas flaring and venting, but not all approaches have proven effective,” said Zubin Bamji, GGFR’s Program Manager at the World Bank.
“Our new regulatory review and analysis will help governments create the right policies for their specific circumstances so routine flaring and venting can come to an end by 2030, which is our collective goal,” he added.
“Ending routine flaring at oil production sites is vital, both to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to conserve the gas for productive purposes—for example to generate electricity in poor communities who rely on dirtier fuels for their energy needs” it said.