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Oil Firms Intensified Gas Flaring to the Highest Level in Five Years in 2023

Oil companies globally flared more natural gas last year, reversing reductions from the previous two years and sending gas flaring volumes to the highest in five years, the World Bank’s annual Global Gas Flaring Tracker Report showed on Thursday.

The amount of gas flared worldwide rose by nine billion cubic meters (bcm) to 148 bcm last year, its highest level since 2019. The increase resulted in an additional 23 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent emissions, an amount similar to adding about five million cars to the roads, according to new satellite data compiled by the World Bank's Global Flaring and Methane Reduction (GFMR) Partnership.

The volumes from routine flaring rose by 7%, while at the same time, global oil production rose by just 1% last year, according to World Bank data.

The World Bank is leading global efforts to end the practice of the so-called routine gas flaring by 2030.

According to satellite data estimates analyzed by the World Bank, the top 9 largest flaring countries in 2023 were Russia, Iran, Iraq, the United States, Venezuela, Algeria, Libya, Nigeria, and Mexico. These countries accounted for about 75% of all gas flared and 46% of global oil production.

“The increase in gas flaring is particularly disheartening as it comes after a long-overdue reduction in 2022. This sets global gas flaring levels back to what we experienced in 2019,” said Zubin Bamji, World Bank GFMR Manager.

“We’re hopeful that this is somewhat of an anomaly and the longer-term trend will be dramatic reductions.”

Demetrios Papathanasiou, World Bank Global Director for the Energy and Extractives Global Practice, commented, “Capturing and using this wasted gas could displace dirtier energy sources, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and generate enough power to double the amount of electricity provided in Sub-Saharan Africa.”

A separate report, this year’s edition of the Statistical Review of World Energy, showed on Thursday that emissions last year broke yet another record despite an increase in the deployment of wind and solar and a marked increase in EV sales.

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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