About 5 percent of the world’s natural gas production is squandered each year through gas flaring, a process in which unused gas is burned while drilling for oil, a new analysis by General Electric has found.
In addition to wasting a potentially valuable energy resource — roughly 30 percent of the current consumption in the European Union — the practice emits about 400 million metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, the equivalent of emissions from 77 million automobiles, according to GE, which has launched a campaign against flaring.
While most modern oil extraction projects are equipped with technology to capture natural gas or inject it back into the ground, less advanced operations in several nations — particularly Russia and Nigeria — simply burn it.
The biggest source of flare gas emissions worldwide is Russia, where as much as 50 billion cubic meters of natural gas is wasted each year, according to the report. If even half of that gas could be captured and sold at prevailing prices, it could pump as much as $2 billion into the Russian economy, the report says.
Article appearing courtesy Yale Environment 360.