The amount of gas burnì off in flares by oil producers worldwide dropped last year for thè first time since 2013, but increased in several countries, includ- ing thè US, showing that thè global effort to curb thè practice is stili mak- ing uncertain progress.
Flaring worldwide fell an estimated 5 per cent last year, according to World Bank data, principally because of a steep decline in Russia, but some lead- ing oil producers, including Iran and Iraq as well as thè US, burnt increased volumes of gas. The data are estimated using satellite imaging to spot thè lights from flares, which are analysed by researchers to calcu late how muchgas is beingbumt.
Riccardo Puliti, head of thè energy practice at thè World Bank, described thè fall last year as “encouraging”, but warned that it was too soon to say whether it represented thè start of a sustained decline.
Flaring is often thè safest way to dispose of unwanted gas produced during oil extraction, but thè practice wastes resources that could find productive uses, and creates carbon dioxide emis- sions and other pollution.
If captured and used for power generation, thè gas burnt in flares could sup- ply 90 per cent of Africa’s electricity consumption.
In 2015, thè World Bank launched an initiative to cut routine flaring to zero by 2030. It has gathered support from 26 countries, including thè US, Russia, Nigeria and Iraq, and 33 compa- nies including BP of thè UK, Eni of Italy, Royal Dutch Shell and Total of France.