U.S. Flaring Declined To Lowest Levels In A Decade

Gas flaring intensity in 2022 fell worldwide, with the United States playing a significant role in the decline according to the World Bank’s latest Global Gas Flaring Tracker Report.

In short, the report finds that in 2022 global gas flaring decreased by three percent from 144 billion cubic meters (bcm) to 139 bcm, making it the lowest level since 2010. Notably, global gas flaring progress coincided with global oil output increase. Oil production rose by five percent – to 80 million barrels per day (bbl/d) from 77 million bbl/d in 2021.

Source: World Bank Global Gas Flaring Tracker Report

The decoupling between energy production and gas flaring reductions resulted in the global average flaring intensity dropping from 5.1 m3/bbl in 2021 to 4.7 m3/bbl in 2022.  On the reductions, World Bank Vice President for Infrastructure Guangzhe Chen said:

“After a decade of stalled progress, global gas flaring volumes fell in 2022 by around three percent, which is a welcome drop, especially during a time of concern about energy security for many countries.”

U.S. Plays Significant Role In Gas Flaring Decline

The analysis found that U.S. flaring fell by nine percent between 2021 and 2022, despite the United States being in the top nine flaring countries. Notably, the United States led the pack as one of three countries – Nigerian and Mexico included – to account for the majority of the decline in global gas flaring in 2022.

Even better is that flaring intensity declined by 14 percent to “the lowest value recorded for the United States in the last ten years.” This is a particularly relevant feat considering that the United States also increased its oil production by almost six percent during 2022. The report explains:

The United States demonstrates the results that can be achieved when private companies … seek to capitalize on gas market opportunities and are supported by strong regulation on flaring.” (emphasis added)

The report further emphasizes:

“Last year, gas flaring released an estimated 357 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2e), of which 42 million tonnes CO2e was in the form of methane. This Reduction is equivalent to taking three million cars off the road.” (emphasis added)

U.S. flaring reductions show the country’s commitment to continue deploying solutions to meet our climate targets without compromising energy security and affordability nationally and globally.

 Source: World Bank Global Gas Flaring Tracker Report

Conflict Creates Opportunity For U.S. Gas Exports

In 2022, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine created a volatile environment for energy markets forcing many countries to transition away from Russian resources and find alternative suppliers. This vacuum allowed the United States to make history as it provided Europe with more liquefied natural gas (LNG) than it had been receiving from Russia.

The U.S. increased its natural gas exports to Europe in 2022, and these exports are expected to remain high through 2023 as the country continues to help Europe stave off supply shortages. As the United States increased gas exports to Europe, it also provided one of the cleanest options available.

The evidence points to increased gas production and emissions reduction not being mutually exclusive –  the United States is a leader in net energy export and will continue to be so through 2050.

For instance, earlier this month Texas Independent Producers & Royalty Owners Association President Ed Longanecker pointed out the fact that the United States decreasing flaring was a concurrent effort while it also increased exports of LNG to Europe:

The fact is the U.S. energy industry has stepped up to meet this demand while simultaneously addressing demand at home.

Source: World Bank Global Gas Flaring Tracker Report

Bottom Line: The U.S. oil and natural gas industry has proven that it can step up to support European allies in meeting their demands, while continuing to provide affordable energy at home. More impressively, it’s doing all of this while leading the world in mitigating and reducing emissions from flaring.

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