• Monday, March 04, 2024
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Global gas flaring falls lowest since 2010 – World Bank

Gas flaring: A history of missed deadlines

Global gas flaring decreased by three percent to 139 billion cubic meters in 2022 from 144 bcm in 2021, the lowest level since 2010. This is equivalent to taking three million cars off the road, according to a report by the World Bank.

Gas flaring, the burning of natural gas associated with oil extraction, occurs due to various issues, from market and economic constraints to a lack of appropriate regulation and political will.

Nigeria, Mexico, and the United States accounted for most of the decline in global gas flaring in 2022. Two other countries—Kazakhstan and Colombia— stand out for consistently reducing flaring volumes in the last seven years, according to the latest Global Gas Flaring Tracker Report, a leading global and independent indicator of gas flaring.

The report added that Nigeria contributed the most to the overall global reduction, reducing its flare volumes by 1.3 bcm in 2022, a 20 percent reduction from 2021.

“This was largely attributable to a 14 percent decline in oil production during the same period, although Nigeria did experience a slight improvement in its flaring intensity, reducing from 11.8 cubic meters per barrel in 2021 to 11.1 cubic meters per barrel in 2022,” the report said.

According to data from Nigeria Gas Flare Tracker, a satellite-based technology created by the Nigerian Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency, Nigeria’s gas flares declined by 52 percent from 2018 to 2022, largely due to lower oil exploration and gas production activities.

Last year, global gas flaring released an estimated 357 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2e), of which 42 million tonnes of CO2e was methane.

The World Bank report added that oil production increased by five percent to 80 million barrels per day (bpd) from 77 million bpd in 2021. As a result, the global average flaring intensity—the amount of gas flared per barrel of oil produced—dropped to 4.7 cubic meters per barrel in 2022 from 5.1 cubic meters per barrel in 2021.

The report estimates that in 2022 gas flaring released 357 million tonnes of CO2e, 315 million tonnes in the form of carbon dioxide, and 42 million tonnes of CO2e in the form of methane.

“The top nine flaring countries continue to be responsible for most flaring. Russia, Iraq, Iran, Algeria, Venezuela, the United States, Mexico, Libya, and Nigeria account for nearly three-quarters of flare volumes and just under half of global oil production,” it said.

“This wasted gas could displace dirtier energy sources, increase energy access in some of the world’s poorest countries, and provide many countries with much-needed energy security. If put to productive purposes, the amount of gas flared in 2022, could generate as much electricity as Sub-Saharan Africa currently produces in a year.”

Read also: Exploring Inland Gas Reserves: What is in it for Nigeria?

However, alongside the countries that continued to reduce flaring in 2022, several other countries— including Algeria and Egypt—provide hope that they will follow suit and that their efforts to reduce flaring will accelerate as the key ingredients for success, such as effective regulation and enforcement, political will, and infrastructure are put in place.

“We are concerned by the amount of methane emitted through flaring, particularly from flares that are not working properly. Methane is a far more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide in the short term. So, we need to understand this more and are ramping up our efforts to help developing countries tackle methane emissions,” said Zubin Bamji, Global Gas Flaring Reduction Partnership, program manager, World Bank.

According to the report, all governments and operators should carefully assess how they produce oil and gas and identify and seize opportunities for effective and long-term flaring reduction.

“We hope that governments and operators will use the data and insights in this report to kickstart projects in their countries and make investments in gas flaring and venting reduction a key priority, significantly contributing to emissions reduction, energy security, and energy access in the process,” the report said.

The report added that decreased Russian gas exports to the European Union (EU) did not increase gas flaring in Russia. In 2022, the EU significantly increased its liquified natural gas imports from the United States, Angola, Norway, Qatar, and Egypt via pipeline from Azerbaijan and Norway.

“Of these countries supplying gas to the EU, the United States and Angola have made notable progress commercialising associated gas streams and increasing LNG export,” it said.