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    UK Upstream Regulator Benchmarks Flaring


UK regulator notes reductions in flaring and venting but says more must be done.

by: William Powell

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UK Upstream Regulator Benchmarks Flaring

UK upstream regulator Oil & Gas Authority has begun detailing flaring and venting activity offshore as it toughens up the licensing regime, it said September 28. Both metrics are improving but the OGA says "there are clear opportunities for industry to go further to advance cleaner production."

Venting accounted for 7bn ft³ in 2019, down 34% reduction from 2018. Flaring is also down, on a per-barrel of oil basis, and this measure is 12% lower than the 129 ft³/barrel in 2017.

It said that last year, 42bn ft³ of UK gas production – 4% of the total – was vented or flared. It said some venting and flaring was inevitable for safety reasons but it said more can be done to reduce this number. Some offshore gas is by-product of oil and has no export route.

The OGA issues consents for flaring and venting of gas on extant licences and is exploring tougher measures as part of this process, to eliminate unnecessary or wasteful flaring and venting. As part of the OGA’s commitment to integrating net zero considerations into its work, it is aiming to closely scrutinise operator flaring and venting requests – in both existing production and in new field development plans. 

Some operators are looking at specialist pumps to minimise flaring, OGA said, finding evidence that many are prioritising flare/vent volumes as a key performance measure in their day-to-day operations.

Currently flaring alone makes up a quarter of all UK offshore oil and gas production related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and represents 1% of total UK annual CO2 emissions (2019). Venting produces less than 1% of UK offshore oil and gas CO2 emissions, but is responsible for around half of all offshore methane emissions. This represents 1% of total UK annual methane emissions (2018)2.

OGA  said its benchmarking "has already been proven to raise performance levels in other areas, such as production and decommissioning cost efficiency, enabling operators to learn from good examples set by others and allowing us to focus our attention and interventions in the right areas.”