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DOHA, March 5 — The World Bank’s Global Gas Flaring Reduction partnership (GGFR) today called on oil producing countries and companies in the Middle East to join worldwide efforts in reducing the burning of natural gas or flaring, and in increasing energy efficiency to mitigate impact on climate change. A World Bank delegation is participating at the 13th Annual Middle East Gas Summit in Doha, Qatar, on March 5th and 6th.
“The contribution of the Middle East is fundamental in order to have a decisive global impact on flaring reduction and associated gas utilization over the long run,” said Bent Svensson, Manager of the Global Gas Flaring Reduction partnership. “Several countries like Qatar, Kuwait and others are more conscious of the importance of addressing environmental issues, and so we look forward to working with them and welcoming into the GGFR partnership.”
The GGFR partnership estimates that globally at least 150 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas are flared or wasted every year, adding about 400 million tons of greenhouse gases in annual emissions. This is equivalent to almost all the potential yearly emission reductions from projects currently submitted under the Kyoto mechanisms.
Gas Flaring in the Middle East and North Africa region is about 50 billion cubic meters annually, which makes it the second flaring region in the world after Russia and the Caspian region (about 60 bcm). Sub-Saharan Africa flares about 35 bcm. The amount of gas flared in the Middle East alone (about 30 bcm) could feed a 20 million ton liquefied natural gas plant.
“Each cubic meter of gas flared is a waste of resources that also generates two kilograms of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere,” said Svensson, who explained that gas flaring reduction has been most successful where there is country buy-in, high-level support and an effective local partnership between government and industry.
According to satellite data released by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA) last August, in 2006 oil producing countries and companies burned about 170 billion cubic meters (bcm) of natural gas worldwide or nearly five trillion cubic feet. That’s equivalent to 27% of total U.S. natural gas consumption and 5.5% of total global production of natural gas for the year. If the gas had been sold in the United States instead of being flared, the total US market value would have been about $40 billion.
These satellite observations also show that some countries in the Middle East and North Africa region have increased gas flaring over the past 12 years. These include: Iraq, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen.
On the other hand, the satellite observations show that other countries have decreased gas flaring from 1995 to 2006, including Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Syria, and UAE. And other countries have had largely stable gas flaring across those 12 years. These include Iran and Kuwait.
GGFR is a public-private partnership of governments, state-owned companies and major international oil companies committed to reducing flaring and venting worldwide. The GGFR partnership facilitates and supports national efforts to use the associated gas that comes with oil production and thus reduce flaring, by tackling the lack of effective regulatory frameworks and the constraints on gas utilization, such as insufficient infrastructure and poor access to local and international energy markets, particularly in developing countries.
The top 20 major flaring countries in the world include: Russia, Nigeria, Iran, Iraq, Angola, Venezuela, Qatar, Algeria, the United States, Kuwait, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Equatorial Guinea, Libya, Mexico, Azerbaijan, Brazil, Congo, the United Kingdom, and Gabon.