Originally posted in The Business Standard on 7 May 2022
Bangladesh gas fields burnt $3 million worth of natural gas in 2021 in gas flaring, according to a World Bank report published on Thursday.
In 2020, the burnt amount was 14.84 million cubic meters (mcm) worth $1.7 million. The year 2021 saw a 75% rise in gas flaring.
The WB’s 2022 Global Gas Flaring Tracker report says in 2021, 25.93 mcm (916 million cubic ft) of gas was burnt in flaring in Bangladesh, which was equivalent to $2.98 million in sales value.
The amount, though looks meagre in global perspective, matters a lot for Bangladesh which is now forced to buy expensive gas from the spot market to cover up local production shortfalls.
The largest flaring field is Kailastila operated by Petrobangla, burning 18.28 mcm gas, followed by Titas with 5.27 mcm.
Bibiyana and Jalalabad fields, operated by Chevron, burnt 1.8 and 0.58 mcm respectively.
Energy expert and Geologist Professor Dr Badrul Imam, however, found the volume “not significant” compared to the country’s total daily gas production.
He said, “At present we are producing around 2,300 million cubic feet gas per day and around 1 trillion cubic feet annually. So, the amount burnt per year in flares is not that significant.”
Talking about waste reduction, he said finding a solution to it would be possible by knowing in which areas gas fields are now burning the gas and how.
Globally, 144 billion cubic meters of gas worth $16.5 billion and enough to power the whole sub-Saharan Africa was needlessly burnt in flares at upstream oil and gas facilities in 2021, a year that saw a turbulent global energy market, according to the gas flaring report.
Apart from wasting natural resource, the gas flaring, the industry practice of burning natural gas associated with oil and gas extraction, released 400 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent emissions into air, says the report, calling for more efforts to reduce the wastage to conserve gas for productive use as well as check environmental pollution.
Though Russia and USA are among the top 10 flaring countries that accounted for 75% of all gas flaring, Bangladesh has also a role in it.
The oil and gas industry has been continuing the wasteful and polluting practice for the last 160 years due to the absence of a strategy to manage and utilize the gas, the report said.
A range of issues, from market and economic constraints, to a lack of appropriate regulation and political will are also blamed for gas flaring, causing a monumental waste of a valuable natural resource that should either be used for productive purposes, such as generating power, or conserved.
“Ending routine flaring at oil production sites is vital, both to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to conserve the gas for productive purposes—for example to generate electricity in poor communities who rely on dirtier fuels for their energy needs,” it said.
The conserved gas could potentially displace other more polluting fuels, such as coal and diesel, that generate higher emissions per energy unit, it points out.
Terming gas flaring totally unproductive, it suggested several alternatives to address the routine practice: re-injecting associated gas back into the ground or building the infrastructure needed to capture, store, and transport the associated gas to market.
Governments can put in place effective regulations and policies to incentivize and encourage gas flaring reduction, according to Zero Routine Flaring (ZRF) initiative, jointly launched by the WB and UN with a commitment to end gas flaring by 2030.