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Global gas flaring drops to lowest level since 2010

The World Bank says global gas flaring has fallen to the lowest level since 2010.

Gas flaring
Gas flaring

This is contained in a statement issued by the World Bank, a copy of which was obtained in Abuja on Wednesday, March 29, 2023.

The bank said progress in reducing gas flaring resumed in 2022, with gas flared worldwide falling by five billion cubic meters (bcm) to 139 bcm.

It said this was its lowest level since 2010, according to new satellite data compiled by the World Bank’s Global Gas Flaring Reduction Partnership (GGFR).

According to the bank, the reduction in 2022 is equivalent to taking three million cars off the road.

The statement quoted Guangzhe Chen, World Bank Vice-President for Infrastructure, as saying: “After a decade of stalled progress, global gas flaring volumes fell in 2022 by about three per cent.

“This is a welcome drop, especially during a time of concern about energy security for many countries.

“We continue to encourage all oil producers to seize opportunities to end this polluting and wasteful practice.’’

The bank said three countries, Nigeria, Mexico, and the United States, accounted for most of the decline in global gas flaring in 2022.

It said two other countries, Kazakhstan and Colombia, stood out for consistently reducing flaring volumes in the last seven years.

The bank said in addition to the overall reduction in flare volume, global flaring intensity, the amount of flaring per barrel of oil produced, also fell to its lowest level since satellite data began.

It said this was due to the five per cent increase in oil production in 2022.

“This indicates a gradual and sustained decoupling of oil production from flaring.’’

It said in spite of this progress, the top nine flaring countries continue to be responsible for the vast majority of flaring.

“Russia, Iraq, Iran, Algeria, Venezuela, the United States, Mexico, Libya, and Nigeria account for nearly three-quarters of flare volumes and under half of global oil production.’’

The bank said the satellite data showed that decreased Russian gas exports to the European Union did not increase gas flaring in Russia.

It said throughout 2022, the European Union significantly increased its Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) imports from the United States, Angola, Norway, Qatar, and Egypt, and via pipeline from Azerbaijan and Norway.

“Of these countries, only the United States, Angola, and Egypt have made substantial progress in converting associated gas that will otherwise be flared into LNG exports.’’

The bank said GGFR estimates that in 2022, gas flaring released 357 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents, 315 million tonnes in the form of carbon dioxide, and 42 million tonnes in the form of methane.

It said the report also considered the ‘state of the science’ and the uncertainty surrounding how much methane was released from flaring.

“It finds that methane emissions due to flaring can be significantly higher than previously estimated.

“For example, if the average flare is just five percentage points less efficient at combusting methane, then globally, the amount of methane released will be three times higher than currently estimated.’’

The statement quoted Zubin Bamji, World Bank’s GGFR Programme Manager, as saying: “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.’’

It said gas flaring is the burning of natural gas associated with oil extraction.

“This wasted gas can displace dirtier energy sources, increase energy access in some of the world’s poorest countries, and provide many countries worldwide with much-needed energy security.’’

It said the World Bank’s GGFR was a trust fund and partnership of governments, oil companies, and multilateral organisations working to end routine gas flaring at oil production sites around the world.

“GGFR helps identify solutions to the array of technical, economic, and regulatory barriers to flaring reduction.’’

It said GGFR, in partnership with the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Payne Institute at the Colorado School of Mines, had developed global gas flaring estimates.

“These estimates are based upon observations from two satellites inaugurated in 2012 and 2017.

“The advanced sensors of these satellites detect the heat emitted by gas flares as infrared emissions at global upstream oil and gas facilities.’’

By Okeoghene Akubuike

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