New Studies on Gas Flaring

The Possibilities of German Development Cooperation in Reducing Gas Flaring

15.12.2017 |

The term ‘Gas Flaring’ describes a process during the extraction of crude oil whereby associated natural gas is burned-off. Gas Flaring faces increasing criticism since the practice constitutes a waste of fossil resources and at the same time creates unnecessary emission. A variety of different technologies exist which allow the utilization of associated gas, for example as a source material for the petro-chemical industry or to produce energy. New and more flexible technologies even allow the utilization and monetization of small volumes of associated gas in remote areas.

The reduction of Gas Flaring is one aspect in the achievement of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The utilization of associated gas for energy production contributes for instance to SDG 7: “Affordable and Clean Energy”. Simultaneously, a minimization of Gas Flaring contributes to the reduction of carbon emissions and thus to SDG 13: “Climate Action”.

Commissioned by BGR, Carbon Limits Ltd. compiled two studies focusing on three country cases in order to analyze the potential of German Development Cooperation in the area of Gas Flaring reduction. The regulatory framework, the geological and geographic as well as the technical and climate aspects have been examined in relation to Gas Flaring reduction for Cameroon, Peru and Ecuador. The studies show a varied picture for all three countries:

In 2016, Peru flared approximately 136 million m³ of associated gas and occupied the 51st place in the ranking of countries flaring the largest volumes of associated gas. Besides a limited oil production, Peru occupied one of the last positions in this ranking due to the fact that Gas Flaring is strictly regulated. Through the consistent implementation of this regulation and unannounced controls, Peru managed to reduce the amount of gas flared to 8%. The remaining 92% of the gas are either sold, utilized for energy production or reinjected.

Ecuador flared 1.154 million m³ of associated gas and ranked 24th place on the list of top flaring countries in 2016. Ecuador flared 56% of its associated gas. The significantly higher level of flaring depends amongst other things on the different structure of the Ecuadorian oil sector. While in Peru the crude oil is extracted by private companies, in Ecuador a large share of the oil is extracted by a state owned oil company. Therefore, a strict regulation but also high political will in reducing Gas Flaring are of particular importance. To tackle the subject, Ecuador started a program to utilize the associated gas and amongst other things generate electricity from associated gas. The complete implementation of the program is planned for the years ahead.

Cameroon ranked on the 27th position on the list of top flaring countries in 2016 due to the flaring of around 1.098 million m³ associated gas. Cameroon extracts crude oil particularly offshore in the Rio del Rey basin, which is why the utilization of the associated gas has to overcome infrastructural barriers. The associated gas could be transported to the coast via boat through a floating-LNG plant or via a pipeline system. An advantage is, however, that the majority of the gas is flared in one area geographically close to the coast. Therefore, the construction of a gas pipeline could be economically viable and reduce the emissions caused by flaring in Cameroon. Besides the infrastructure, a coherent regulatory scheme of how the associated gas shall be used is currently lacking.

The comprehensive studies can be downloaded here.

For further questions, please reach out to a member of the BGR-team.

Study on the Potentials of German Development Cooperation in the Reduction of Gas Flaring

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