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Gas Flaring Increase in the US and Russia Reverses GHG Reduction Trend

World Bank3 July 2012: The World Bank and the Global Gas Flaring Reduction Partnership (GGFR) caution that new data show a two-billion cubic meter increase in gas flared in 2011, reversing the downward trend that had been achieved in recent years.

The increase in flaring from 138 billion cubic meters in 2010 to 140 bcm in 2011 is due largely to increased hydrocarbon production in the Russian Federation and shale oil and gas operations in the US state of North Dakota. The World Bank stresses the importance of reutilizing gas that is emitted in oil production, highlighting that efforts to reduce gas flaring since 2005 have cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by a volume equivalent to that emitted by some 16 million cars.

The 2011 satellite data show that the US, the Russian Federation, Kazakhstan, and Venezuela are the main contributors to this increase. The Russian Federation tops the world's flaring countries, followed by Nigeria, Iran and Iraq. Latest satellite estimates also show some continuous progress in flaring reduction in Nigeria, Algeria, Mexico and Qatar.

According to the World Bank and GGFR, all these countries need to step up their efforts to reduce gas flaring, thereby not only achieving emissions reductions, but increasing the efficiency of their natural resource extraction by using gas for electricity production.

The GGFR is a public-private initiative of some 30 major oil-producing countries and companies. It aims to overcome the challenges for the utilization of associated gas, including lack of regulations and markets for associated gas utilization. GGFR partners' main objective is to reduce the environmental impact of gas flaring, as well as the waste of a valuable energy source. Global gas flaring, estimated in 2011 at 140 billion cubic meters (bcm), also accounts for some 360 million tons of GHG emissions. Eliminating these annual emissions is equivalent to taking some 70 million cars off the road. [World Bank Press Release]