According to a report by the World Bank, Nigeria and the greater Khanty-Mansiysk Autonomous Okrug (KMAO) region of Russia have both achieved significant progress over the past 15 years, with Nigeria reducing its gas flaring by 70% to just 7 billion cubic meters (bcm) in 2020, and KMAO reducing its gas flaring volumes by nearly 80%, to just over 4 bcm.
This is according to the World Bank’s Global Gas Flaring Tracker Report in which seven countries continue to light up the global map, year after year: Russia, Iraq, Iran, the United States, Algeria, Venezuela and Nigeria have been the largest flaring countries for nine years running since the first satellite was launched in 2012.
While these seven countries have together produced some 40 percent of the world’s oil each year, they have also accounted for roughly two-thirds (65 percent) of global gas flaring.
Nigeria: 15 years of progress
Nigeria, the seventh-largest flaring country in 2020. Although the country has remained in the top seven flaring countries, it has nonetheless steadily reduced its flaring by some 70 percent over the past 15 years.
Flaring has declined from over 25 bcm in 2000 to close to 7 bcm in 2020, while oil production has remained essentially flat at around 2 million barrels a day.
Nigeria: Flare volumes and oil production, 2000 – 2020
In February 2021, Timipre Sylva, minister of state for petroleum resources, said:
“Nigeria is committed to achieving the global consensus on the elimination of gas flaring by 2025, adding that “today, we have actually reduced gas flaring significantly to a very minimal level of eight percent”.
Demetrios Papathanasiou, global director for the energy and extractives global practice at the World Bank, said:
“In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, oil-dependent developing countries are feeling the pinch, with constrained revenues and budgets. But with gas flaring still releasing over 400 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions each year, now is the time for action.
“We must forge ahead with plans to dramatically reduce the direct emissions of the oil and gas sector, including from gas flaring”.
Zubin Bamji, program manager of the World Bank’s GGFR partnership trust fund, said:
“Awareness of gas flaring as a critical climate and resource management issue is greater than ever before. Gas flaring reduction projects require significant investment and take several years to produce results.
“In the lead-up to the next UN Climate Change conference in Glasgow, we continue to call upon oil-producing country governments and companies to place gas flaring reduction at the center of their climate action plans.
“To save the world from millions of tons of emissions a year, this 160-year-old industry practice must now come to an end”.
In 2020, oil production declined by 8 percent (from 82 million barrels per day (b/d) in 2019 to 76 million b/d in 2020), while global gas flaring dropped by 5 percent (from 150 bcm in 2019 to 142 bcm in 2020)
The United States accounted for 70 percent of the global decline, with gas flaring falling by 32 percent from 2019 to 2020, due to an 8 percent drop in oil production, combined with new infrastructure to use gas that would otherwise be flared
While the United States saw a 32 percent drop in gas flaring, the country’s main three shale oil-producing regions – the Permian and Eagleford in Texas, and the Bakken in North Dakota – continued to account for over 90 percent of the gas flaring in 2020. However, combined flaring from these three regions declined by over 5 bcm in 2020, partly due to a reduction in oil production and the drilling of new wells, but also as a result of increasing volumes of flare gas being connected to existing and new gas pipeline network.
Russia tops the list of global gas flaring countries in 2020, contributing to 15 percent of global gas flaring. Mixed performance is seen across Russia: with a significant increase in flaring at oil production sites in East Siberia, alongside significant improvements in a flaring reduction in the KMAO region in West Siberia.
Gas flaring in China increased by 35 percent; China was the ninth highest flaring country globally in 2020. Most of this increase was from new field developments in the West of China.