In the lead up to World Environment Day on June 5th, we are taking a closer look at the impact of the Oil & Gas Industry on changes to our environment. Follow us on our social channels for more news on World Environment Day and join the conversation: how can industry slow climate change?
A key aspect of the Oil & Gas Industry’s efforts to reduce climate change and global warming is reducing routine gas flaring.
The extraction of highly flammable liquids and gases from the earth is a precise and potentially dangerous operation. Burning excess gas by flare is a critical part of the Oil & Gas Industry’s safety regime. Flare stacks are often used for burning off flammable gas released by pressure relief valves during unplanned over-pressurisation of plant equipment. This can take place during start-ups and shutdowns in production when the volume of gas being extracted can be uncertain. In this respect flare stacks provide a critical means by which to ensure safety – the alternative to allowing the gas to escape would be a significant build-up of pressure and the risk of explosion.
However, gas is not always flared for safety reasons. When crude oil is extracted and produced from onshore or offshore oil wells, raw natural gas also comes to the surface. In areas of the world lacking pipelines and the infrastructure to capture it, this gas is commonly flared.
Gas flaring is a significant contributor to climate change through the emission of Carbon Dioxide (CO2), black carbon and other pollutants that are released during the burning of natural gas. It also represents a waste of valuable energy resources that could be used for power generation. In Nigeria – Africa’s largest oil and gas producer – if natural gas was collected and monetised instead of flared, it could provide $10 billion of revenue and 2.5 giga-watts of electricity a year.
An ambitious initiative
The Zero Routine Flaring (ZRF) by 2030 Initiative – organised by the World Bank – encourages companies to conserve or otherwise utilise excess natural gas. By bringing together governments, oil companies and development institutions it aims to increase awareness of how routine flaring is unsustainable from a resource management and environmental perspective.
Governments that endorse the initiative provide a legal, regulatory, investment and operating environment to develop processes that limit routine flaring. Oil companies help by developing new oil fields that incorporate the sustainable use or conservation of natural gas – without flaring.
A key part of the initiative is annual reporting of flaring figures to show progress towards ZRF. In the last year, countries including Egypt, Iraq and Oman have joined the cause. By reducing routine flaring, Iraq could save US $5.2 billion in the next four years alone. The country is aiming to reduce its routine gas flaring to zero by 2021 – nine years ahead of the ZRF goal.
A helping hand
Key to managing flaring is accurate reporting and tracking. Fluenta’s FGM 160 Flare Gas Meter provides ultrasonic technology for reliable flare gas measurement. Through measurement, companies can better understand their emissions targets and significantly reduce routine flaring.
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