Profligacy amid scarcity
The insanity of gas flaring during a global energy crisis
Ukraine is smouldering. The EU is paying a fortune to import LNG. Yet the global oil and gas industry is still flaring off as much gas as the EU buys from Russia each year. Plus ça change?
Some things never change. The energy world has been turned upside down by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and European politicians have woken up to the urgent need to wean their economies off Russian gas. Yet the deplorably wasteful practice of routinely flaring off excess upstream gas at the well head is, sadly, still going strong.
As Europe contemplates the long and painful process of extricating itself from heavy dependence on Russian gas, it should come as a galvanising shock to learn that the global oil industry flared enough upstream gas in 2021 to replace Russian methane molecules in the European energy mix almost entirely.
New data from the World Bank reveals that worldwide gas flaring rose marginally to 143 billion cubic metres (Bcm) last year. That equates t…