Global Gas Flaring Down 5% in 2017: World Bank
New satellite data shows a significant decline in gas flaring at oil fields around the world in 2017, despite a 0.5% increase in global oil production, the World Bank-led Global Gas Flaring Reduction (GGFR) initiative said July 17, adding that the almost 5% decline in flaring begins to reverse years of increases in global gas flaring that started in 2010.
Flaring declined to 140.6bn m3 in 2017, down by 4.7% from 147.6bn m3 in 2016, GGFR said. While Russia remains the world’s largest flaring country, it also saw the largest decline last year, down by 2.5bn m3 to 19.9bn m3. Venezuela and Mexico also reduced their flaring in 2017, but Iran, Libya and the US increased theirs.
Riccardo Puliti, head of the World Bank’s energy and extractives division, cautioned: “The latest global gas flaring data is encouraging but we will have to wait a few more years to know whether it represents a much-needed turning point.” GGFR programme manager Bjorn Hamso added: “It is paramount that oil field operators continue to address ongoing ‘legacy’ flaring, and that new business models are developed that will enable more investors to participate in flaring reduction projects.” The data is based on analysis by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) using space imaging by NASA’s satellite-borne Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS).
Russia, Iraq and Iran remain the top three largest flaring nations. Iraqi flaring was up slightly to 17.8bn m3, the flat line signalling that more gas is being harnessed for power generation. Iran’s increase, up by 1.3bn m3, means it is only just behind at 17.7bn m3.
A worrying trend is that the US has vaulted from 5th to 4th worst flaring position, up 0.6bn m3 at 9.5bn m3, as shale oil production increased without remote associated gas being monetised. Also Nigerian flaring, which had declined for several years, was up by 0.3bn m3 at 7.6bn m3 – but in that case the end of militant attacks in the Niger Delta had seen a key rise in Nigerian oil production.
Angola where flaring had increased for several years saw its flaring decline by 0.7bn m3 in 2017, as LNG exports stabilised, providing a market for more offshore associated gas that otherwise would be flared. Welcome declines were also evidenced from Algeria and Mexico, among the top 10 worst flarers.
Excluding Iraq, Iran, the US, Nigeria and Libya, all other top 20 flaring nations reducing their flaring last year.
Gas flaring data from the World Bank's GGFR
|bn m3 in 2017||change in bn m3 from 2016|
|next ten flarers||11.4||-|
|rest of the world||8.4||-1.6|
Source: NOAA, GGFR. Rounded numbers