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World Bank says global gas flaring hits lowest level since 2010

Flare, Light, Factory REUTERS/Alexander Manzyuk
Only Egypt, the US and Angola have made substantial progress in converting associated gas that would otherwise be flared into LNG exports

Gas flaring worldwide dropped five billion cubic metres (bcm) to 139 bcm in 2022, reaching its lowest level since 2010, the World Bank said in its global gas flaring reduction partnership (GGFR) study.

“After a decade of stalled progress, global gas flaring volumes fell in 2022 by around three percent, which is a welcome drop, especially during a time of concern about energy security for many countries,” said Guangzhe Chen, World Bank Vice President for Infrastructure.

“We continue to encourage all oil producers to seize opportunities to end this polluting and wasteful practice,” he added.

Gas flaring involves burning off the gas which comes out of the ground while drilling for oil. It often results in giant flames seen comes from smokestacks.

It is necessary to flare gas for sategy reason to avoid any explosions from the build up of gas. Environmental activists often say the process is bad for the atmosphere and th ehealth of those leaving nearby.

Nigeria, Mexico, and the United States accounted for most of the decline in global gas flaring in 2022. 

In addition to the overall reduction in flare volume, global flaring intensity – the amount of flaring per barrel of oil produced – fell to its lowest level since satellite data began due to the five percent increase in oil production in 2022.  

However, the top nine flaring countries continue to be responsible for the vast majority of flaring, with Russia, Iraq, Iran, Algeria, Venezuela, the United States, Mexico, Libya, and Nigeria accounting for nearly three-quarters of flare volumes and under half of the global oil production.

Throughout 2022, the European Union significantly increased its liquefied natural gas (LNG) imports from the United States, Angola, Norway, Qatar, and Egypt and via pipeline from Azerbaijan and Norway. 

Of these countries, only the United States, Angola, and Egypt have made substantial progress in converting associated gas that would otherwise be flared into LNG exports.

GGFR estimates that in 2022 gas flaring released 357 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents, 315 million tonnes in the form of carbon dioxide and 42 million tonnes in the form of methane. 

The report found that methane emissions due to flaring could be significantly higher than previously estimated. 

“We are concerned by the amount of methane emitted through flaring, particularly from flares that are not working properly,” said Zubin Bamji, the World Bank’s GGFR Program Manager.

“Methane is a far more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide in the short term. So we need to understand this more and are ramping up our efforts to help developing countries tackle methane emissions,” he stated.

The report said gas flaring could be seen as wasted gas and could displace “dirtier” energy sources, increase energy access in some of the world’s poorest countries, and provide many countries worldwide with much-needed energy security.