- safety reasons
- reservoir management reasons
- mechanical, instrument and valve failures
- if gas utilization is infeasible
During routine oil and gas drilling and production operations, natural gas in an oil well is usually flared if it is uneconomical to recover the gas.
Associated gas is also flared in the initial start-up due to reservoir management reasons.
Natural gas which cannot be transported to the market for sale/ use and needs to be disposed of to release the pressure in the oil well is also flared.
This gas is released to the atmosphere in a controlled manner at a height through a pipe (also called a flare) and burned.
These gases might be natural gas or other hydrocarbon vapors, water vapors, and other gases such as carbon dioxide separated in the process of production of oil and/ or natural gas.
Gas flaring introduces toxic pollutants such as sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere, which can lead to environmental problems such as acid rain, as well as the generation of greenhouse gases which contribute to global climate change.
Gas flaring satellite data from 2020 reveals that Russia, Iraq, Iran, the United States, Algeria, Venezuela and Nigeria remain the top 7 gas flaring countries for 9 years running, since the 1st satellite was launched in 2012.
These 7 countries produce 40% of the world’s oil each year, but account for roughly 65% of global gas flaring.
For example, the U.S. has thousands of individual flare sites, difficult to connect to a market, while a few high flaring oil fields in East Siberia in Russia are extremely remote, lacking the infrastructure to capture and transport the associated gas.
Almost 80 governments and oil companies have committed to Zero Routine Flaring within the next decade.