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Ravindra Jayant Puranik, associate project manager (APM) at GlobalData, speaks with Oil Review Africa about the gas flaring issues and the importance of developing strategies to eliminate flaring

gas flaring ORANigeria and Chad showed a decline in gas flaring volume and intensity in 2020. (Image source: Adobe Stock)

Oil Review Africa (ORA): Why is gas flaring a pressing issue in upstream sector? 

Ravindra Jayant Puranik (RJP): Associated gas is primarily generated during the production of crude oil in upstream oil and gas industry, making this sector the dominant source of gas flaring. The volumes of gas obtained during crude oil production are extremely low, which deters operators from constructing new gathering and transportation pipelines. Moreover, lack of existing infrastructure and low natural gas prices make utilisation of the associated gas uneconomical.

As a result, the associated gas is generally flared off. Sustained rise in global crude production has led to an increase in global gas flaring in the last decade. Gas flaring results in release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere in the form of CO2, CO and traces of NOx, SOx and others. These gases contribute towards the global phenomenon of global warming and climate change.

ORA: What strategies can be taken to reduce and subsequently eliminate gas flaring from oil and gas operations?

RJP: Increasing public awareness about gas flaring is the first step to tackle the issue. The awareness can then translate into demographic pressures on the establishment and industry participants to develop strategies to eliminate flaring. The World Bank’s Global Gas Flaring Reduction (GGFR) partnership is one such initiative helping to create awareness about the gas flaring issue while also providing financial, technical, and regulatory guidance to tackle the same.

Other approaches that may be adopted to utilise associated gases include, using gas for captive power generation, enhanced oil recovery (EOR), small-scale LNG, small-scale GTL and CNG.

ORA: In Africa, which countries are showing positive development in minimising gas flaring issues?

RJP: In the year 2020, the leading crude oil producers in Africa displayed varying reactions to volatile crude oil prices, in terms of gas flaring volumes and intensity. While gas flaring volume indicates the amount of gases flared off, gas flaring intensity indicates the amount of natural gas flared per usable barrel of crude oil produced. Nigeria and Chad showed a decline in gas flaring volume and intensity. Algeria, Egypt, Gabon and Equatorial Guinea showed an increase in gas flaring intensity. Ghana displayed a stark jump in gas flaring volume and intensity in 2020, as compared to 2019. Libya had a strong y-o-y decline in gas flaring volume in 2020 but recently displayed a slight increase in its flaring intensity.

Read the full article in the latest issue of Oil Review Africa magazine