Billions of cubic meters of natural gas is flared annually at oil production sites around the globe. Flaring gas wastes a valuable energy resource that could be used to support economic growth and development in many countries. Flaring also contributes to climate change by releasing millions of tons of CO2 to the atmosphere, with harmful impacts to the environment from un-combusted methane and black carbon emissions.
During oil production, the associated natural gas is often flared when economic, regulatory or technical barriers to the development of gas markets and gas infrastructure prevent it from being used or when reinjecting the associated gas back into the reservoir is not possible.
The World Bank’s Global Gas Flaring Reduction Partnership (GGFR) is a Multi-Donor Trust Fund composed of governments, oil companies, and multilateral organizations working to end routine gas flaring at oil production sites across the world. The Partnership helps identify solutions to the many technical and regulatory barriers to flaring reduction by developing country-specific flaring reduction programs, conducting research, sharing best practices, raising awareness, increasing the global commitments to end routine flaring, and advancing flare measurements and reporting.
Ending poverty and boosting shared prosperity is also an integral part of GGFR’s strategy. Natural gas resources help countries move toward a more sustainable energy path. It is the fossil fuel with the lowest carbon intensity, at half the footprint of coal at the point of combustion. It can be the least-cost source of flexible electricity supply for grid-based systems with fluctuating supply and demand.
The World Bank's Global Gas Flaring Reduction Partnership (GGFR) has now published estimates from satellite data, which show that global gas flaring increased to 150 billion cubic meters (bcm) in 2019, equivalent to the total annual gas consumption of Sub-Saharan Africa.
GGFR, in partnership with the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Colorado School of Mines, has developed global gas flaring estimates based upon observations from a satellite launched in 2012. The advanced sensors of this satellite detect the heat emitted by gas flares as infrared emissions at global upstream oil and gas facilities. The Colorado School of Mines and GGFR quantify these infrared emissions and calibrate them using country-level data collected by a third-party data supplier, Cedigaz, to produce robust estimates of global gas flaring volumes.
To learn more about GGFR's gas flaring estimates and the methodology for determining the flare volumes from satellite data, please click here.