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Wasted Gas: As Global Supplies Tighten, Here’s 210 bcm of Natural Gas for the Taking – IEA Report

June 15, 2022

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A new report from the International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that if there was a concerted, global effort to eliminate unnecessary flaring and control leaks across the supply chain, nearly 210 billion cubic meters (bcm) of natural gas could be made available to gas markets.

Russia’s war with Ukraine has sent energy prices soaring as a broad swath of sanctions has effectively re-routed Russian oil and gas exports.  The recent report from IEA – “The energy security case for tackling gas flaring and methane leaks” –  contends that “substantial gas resources currently are being produced (but) are lost to flaring and leaks across the oil and gas supply chain,” and that if countries that currently export natural gas to the European Union were to implement these two measures, they could increase gas exports by more than 45 bcm using existing infrastructure, equivalent to almost one third of Russian gas exports to the EU in 2021.

According to the report, more than 260 bcm of natural gas was flared, vented or lost in leaks in 2021, with more than 140 bcm of natural gas flared and another 125 bcm vented or leaked to the atmosphere from oil and gas operations. With the level of waste accentuated by current tightness in the market, IEA estimates “that it is technically possible to avoid over 70% of today’s methane emissions and 90% of flaring from global oil and gas operations, pointing out that more than 54% of all flared volumes are within 20 km of an existing gas pipeline.

The fixes proposed in the report offer not only a compelling business case, but an environmental one too. According to the report, with 2022’s high gas prices, abatement would generate revenues of about $90 billion. In addition, the reduction of wasted gas in the atmosphere could have a positive impact on global temperature rise.

Source: “The energy security case for tackling gas flaring and methane leaks”; International Energy Agency

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