This month developments in gas flaring have focused on the ‘usual suspects’ – the world’s leading gas flaring regions Nigeria, and North Dakota in the United States. Elsewhere a company has been fined for breaching legislation with its gas flaring practices, but for reasons that may surprise you…
Recognition, but still no grand plan to reduce Nigerian flaring
Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), recently stated that Nigeria’s high levels of gas flaring can only be reduced, and ultimately ended, if an appropriate policy is adopted. The announcement followed a statement from France’s Ambassador for Climate Change to the Nigerian government that emphasised the need to convince authorities in the country to drastically reduce gas emissions, due to the negative effect it has on the environment.
At the close of 2011, figures from the World Bank – based on satellite observations – estimated Nigeria’s overall volume of flared gas that year to be 14.6 billion cubic metres, equating to more than ten per cent of the estimated global total for 2011.
The NNPC has tried several options to curb the practice, but Nigerian gas flaring has failed to meet several targets that have been set. The NNPC Managing Director has insisted that the right incentives must be created for Nigeria to fully launch itself as one of the major gas producers, rather than a major gas-flaring nation, saying that “to stop flaring, we need investment and a lot of that money is not there; so, we need to provide a National Master Gas Plan… which must be put into action to enable us move forward. The single most important deterrent to gas flaring in this country is the absence of policy, the absence of status, master plan and incentives.”
North Dakota is flaring one-fifth of its natural gas
In a recent announcement, the Energy information Administration (EIA) stated that rather than collecting and selling it, the state of North Dakota is flaring 20 per cent of the natural gas it extracts. The EIA cites “insufficient infrastructure to collect, gather, and transport this natural gas” as the reason for this level of flaring.
North Dakota used to flare 36 per cent of its gas until recently and in 2012, overtook Wyoming as the state with the highest volumes of flared natural gas in the United States. Although North Dakota has lowered its percentage targets for flaring, production continues to increase. The state’s goal now is to lower the proportion of gas flared to 15 per cent next year, from the 22 per cent currently allowed.
Company pleads guilty in death of 7,500 birds that flew into gas flare
A company has been ordered to pay $750,000 after pleading guilty to two charges in connection with the death of around 7,500 birds two years ago, when the flock flew into a burning flare at a gas facility in New Brunswick, Canada.
The investigation was launched by Environment Canada, after the migrating birds were killed in September 2013 while gas was being flared at a facility in Saint John.
The penalty will be distributed among environmental and wildlife organisations to be used for a variety of programs, including a study in bird migration by Bird Studies Canada, and a scholarship at the University of New Brunswick for a course in Environment and Natural Resources. The New Brunswick Museum will also receive $150,000 to create a DNA database from the dead birds.