Flaring is not a ‘victimless act’!

Author: David Bamford

My take is that there are two clear points.

Firstly, Flaring is not a ‘victimless act’; globally it results in a health risk for millions of people.

CATF reports that oil and gas imports to the European Union expose nearly 10 million people to the avoidable practice of flaring, which is known to release high levels of harmful chemicals. Through a strong methane import standard, the EU can dent global flaring emissions and decrease the health risk of nearby populations.

Their study focused on 20 countries with significant oil and gas exports to the European Union and where an EU Import Standard is likely to lead to reductions in flaring. The study finds: 

  • Nearly 10 million people live within 5 kilometres (km) of active flares; 
  • Iraq and Nigeria have the most people affected, with 3.0 million and 2.5 million respectively; 
  • Another 2.9 million people live within 5km of flares in the United States, Mexico, Azerbaijan, and Egypt combined; 
  • More than half a million people live extremely close to flares, less than 1 km away; 
  • 10% of flaring sites are located very near urban or suburban areas. 

Secondly, Flaring wastes Methane; it’s a valuable resource that investors should prefer to be monetised.

The IEA reported that for 2022 around 140 billion cubic metres (bcm) of Methane was Flared globally.
This is roughly the amount of gas consumed in 2022 in the U.K. and Germany combined, and roughly 2.5 times the 2022 exports of LNG from the USA to the EU.

140 bcm is around 100 million tonnes; examining their 2023 Annual & Sustainability Reports, the 10 Majors that are members of the Oil & Gas Climate Initiative (BP, Chevron, ENI, Equinor, Exxon, Occidental, Petrobras, Repsol, Shell, Total) Flare around 10 million tonnes(2).

Flaring is a waste of Methane, just as Methane Emissions are; but note that the above mentioned Majors report Flaring that ranges from 10-20+ times their reported Methane Emissions, for 2022.

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Goitom Araya
CEO, General Construction and Trading Company
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What can we say closer to home, in the UK?

This is the NSTA’s exhibit showing onshore flaring and methane emissions, from oil and gas activities, for 2016-2023:

You can see that the flaring:venting ratio is headed towards 10+ as the amount of flaring steadily increases.

Is the evidence for this flaring usually visible?

Yes it is, here are some image examples from individual onshore U.K. oil fields.

These come from Terrabotics’ Asset Observer App(3): these are Short Wave IR images (plus one Thermal image) with the facility sitting roughly at the centre of the image…..analysis of such images needs to be aware of the potential for ‘false positives’ and consistent with public information eg production startups/shutdowns.

Flaring can be seen – and measured!

Singleton Field
Kimmeridge Well
Bletchingley Field
Wressle Fields
Wressle Fields Thermal Band

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