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December 24, 2007
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Home / Issue Archive / 2007 / September #9 / Oil Producers Seek to Cut Flares

№ 9 (September 2007)

Oil Producers Seek to Cut Flares

Russia’s oil and gas complex wants to reduce the volume of natural gas it flares.

By Elena Zhuk

President Vladimir Putin put the issue at the top of the industry’s agenda recently when he set a goal that by 2012, the industry must find ways to utilize 95 percent of associated gas it currently flares.

In Moscow Tuesday, nearly 400 experts met to get the ball rolling at an International Conference on Associated Gas Utilization. Their first problem was to agree on how much gas really is being flared.

Some said that of the 150 mcm to 170 mcm flared annually around the world as a by-product of oil production, Russia accounts for 20 mcm. Others said the 20 mcm figure was for Khanty-Mansiysk only and that Russia-wide up 50 mcm is flared each year.

The figures represent between 3.5 and 8 percent of oil production, an economic loss and a drain on health care resources – though they put on a spectacular light show for astronauts in orbit. In Tyumen region which has flared 225 bcm of associated over several decades, the population suffers a higher incidence of respiratory illnesses.

Russian major Surgutneftegaz already utilizes 95 percent of the associated gas that it produces. But others are far behind. Gazpromneft for example is targeting an 80 percent utilization level by 2009 and will reach 95 percent only in 2012, conference participants noted.

The main problem is a lack of technologies to meter and control the flow of associated gas.

This week’s conference was organized by the State Duma of the Russian Federation Committee on Energy,Transport and Communications; the Ministry of Industry and Energy, the World Bank, Union of Oil and Gas Producers of Russia, and the Global Gas Flaring Reduction Public-Private Partnership.

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