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DOHA, January 25, 2009 — The World Bank’s Global Gas Flaring Reduction partnership (GGFR) today officially welcomed Qatar as the first of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states to join the global effort to reduce the flaring of gas associated to oil production.
In a ceremony in Doha, the World Bank called on other oil producing countries and companies in the Middle East to join worldwide efforts of reducing the venting or flaring of natural gas, and of increasing energy efficiency to mitigate climate change. Besides Qatar, other GCC states include Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia and UAE. So far, the only Middle Eastern country that had joined the gas flaring reduction partnership was Iraq.
When drilling for crude oil, gas usually comes to the surface as well and is often vented or flared instead of used for private or commercial consumption. The World Bank-led partnership between governments and companies tries to address this problem by working to reduce the environmentally harmful waste of gas.
“We welcome Qatar to the GGFR partnership and hope that other Gulf States will follow its example in joining the global gas flaring reduction effort,” said Somit Varma, the World Bank Group’s Director for Oil, Gas, Mining and Chemicals. “Limiting the environmentally harmful waste of gas in the oil-rich Middle East is critical to our goal of reducing global CO2 emissions and instead using associated gas for productive purposes.”
The GGFR partnership estimates that globally some 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 45 billion cubic meters, which makes it the second-largest flaring region in the world after Russia and the Caspian (about 60 bcm). Sub-Saharan Africa is the third-largest flaring region (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.
“It is indeed a matter of pride for Qatar that our country has become the first in the Arabian Gulf to join a World Bank program to bring down greenhouse gas emissions,” said HE Abdullah bin Hamad Al Attiyah, Qatar Deputy Premier and Minister of Energy and Industry who is also the Chairman & Managing Director of Qatar Petroleum.
“The State of Qatar is committed to achieving its zero- flaring target and I believe that by joining the GGFR, we will be able to achieve our goals and thereby maintain and preserve our environment for our people and for future generations,”he added.
The specific focus of Qatar’s efforts is to: eliminate routine sources of associated gas venting that could be captured and conserved, and, eliminate or reduce the large sources of associated gas flaring, primarily the major sources of continuous production flaring, other than those related to emergency, safety, and operational upset. It outlines a cooperative approach for identifying feasible gas utilization alternatives that aims at reducing gas flaring.
The state of Qatar isworking hard towards a goal of no harm to people and no harm to the environment. Maintaining the quality of the environment for future generations is an important part of these efforts.
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.
What is gas flaring?
When crude oil is brought to the surface from several kilometers below, gas associated with such oil extraction usually comes to the surface as well. If oil is produced in areas of the world which lack gas infrastructure or a nearby gas market, a significant portion of this associated gas may be released into the atmosphere, un-ignited (vented) or ignited (flared).
Launched at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in August 2002, the GGFR public-private partnership brings around the table representatives of governments of oil-producing countries, state-owned companies and major international oil companies so that they can together overcome the barriers to reducing gas flaring by sharing global best practices and implementing country specific programs in gas flaring countries, with funding provided in part by the European Union, the World Bank, oil companies and donor countries.
GGFR partners and donors
The GGFR partnership, managed and facilitated by a team at the World Bank in Washington, DC, includes the following partners: Algeria (Sonatrach), Angola (Sonangol), Azerbaijan, Cameroon, Canada (CIDA), Chad, Ecuador (PetroEcuador), Equatorial Guinea, France, Gabon, Indonesia, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Khanty-Mansijsysk (Russia), Nigeria, Norway, Qatar, the United States (DOE) and Uzbekistan; BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ENI, ExxonMobil, Marathon Oil, Shell, StatoilHydro, TOTAL, Qatar Petroleum; OPEC Secretariat, European Union, the World Bank and the IFC.