Gas Flaring Down in Q1: World Bank
World Bank data show that global gas flaring rose last year to levels last seen in 2009, to 150bn m³, based on estimates from satellite images. However, the trend began to reverse in the first quarter as global gas flaring fell by 10%, with declines across most of the top 30 gas flaring countries, it said July 21.
"In the US, gas flaring reduced significantly in Q1 2020, by 1.2bn m³, even though oil production continued to increase. This reduction was caused by better use of associated gas. If these trends continue, we are likely to see a significant drop in gas flaring in the US this year," it said.
The 3% rise last year, from 145bn m³ in 2018, was mainly due to the US (23%), Venezuela (16%) and Russia (9%). The top four gas flaring countries – Russia, Iraq, the US and Iran – have accounted for 45% of all global gas flaring, for three years running (2017-2019). But when looking at all oil-producing countries, excluding the top four, gas flaring declined by 9bn m³ or 10%, from 2012 to 2019.
Gas flaring in fragile or conflict-affected countries continue to increase from 2018 to 2019: Syria (35%) and Venezuela (16%), despite oil production flattening in Syria and declining by 40% in Venezuela.
“Our data suggests that gas flaring continues to be a persistent problem, with solutions remaining difficult or uneconomic in certain countries,” said the manager of the bank's energy and extractives practice Christopher Sheldon. “The current Covid-19 pandemic and crisis brings additional challenges, with sustainability and climate concerns potentially sidelined. We must reverse this worrying trend and end routine gas flaring once and for all,” he said.
The top four gas flaring countries (Russia, Iraq, the US and Iran) continue to account for almost half (45%) of all global gas flaring, for three years running (2017-2019).
When looking at all oil-producing countries, excluding the top four, gas flaring declined by 9bn m³ or 10%, from 2012 to 2019. Governments and companies in the Global Gas Flaring Reduction Partnership (GGFR) performed better at flaring reduction than the rest of the world, with an overall decline of about 5% from 2012 to 2019.
Data is collected by a satellite whose sensors detect the heat emitted by gas flares as infrared emissions at global upstream oil and gas facilities. A new and improved web-based application will map global gas flaring data in a reliable, standardised way, and will be publicly available in 2022, with the support of the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative, the bank said.