Value of natural gas flared hits global peak

Source: press release, 17 September 2019

Brainnwave’s augmented intelligence platform, Ossian, generates insights that can streamline business processes and boost sales pipelines
Brainnwave’s augmented intelligence platform, Ossian, generates insights that can streamline business processes and boost sales pipelines (illustration: Brainnwave)

The value of natural gas flared by 80 different nations around the world has increased by 11% to hit a global peak this year of USD 16.4 billion, according to new data analysed by Brainnwave.

The data intelligence business says this is due to the dual effects of the rising price of natural gas and the increased volume of gas flared. The volume of natural gas lost to flaring has increased by 3.2%, from 140.5 billion cubic metres in 2017 to 145 billion cubic metres in 2018.

Data intelligence business Brainnwave pinpointed gas flaring events throughout the world using night-time satellite imagery from visible infrared radiometer data. These data was then used to measure the volume of gas flared. This enabled the firm to use the mean Henry Hub spot price for natural gas in US dollars to estimate its value.

Brainnwave has commercialised this system for pinpointing gas flaring, successfully integrating it into its data intelligence platform, Ossian. Brainnwave has also developed algorithms for quantifying the volume of gas flared at each site using academic papers describing methods for surveying gas flare volumes from radiant heat detected from visible infrared imaging.

According to Brainnwave, Russia, Iraq, Iran and the USA were the four most wasteful nations in 2018, flaring over 70 billion cubic metres of natural gas – enough to heat 38 million homes for a year – more than all the homes in the UK and Ireland combined. It is also more gas flared than the next 30 most wasteful nations combined.

Steve Coates, CEO of Brainnwave, says, “Gas flaring is a major environmental issue, but it is also a commercial one. Oil producers often lack the infrastructure to export natural gas from their wells and face few alternatives but to flare it in order to reach oil.”

“Some of our customers are now using our data intelligence platform to find opportunities to provide commercial solutions, including those that convert otherwise-flared gas into power without it even leaving the site. There are commercially viable solutions to gas flaring – but they rely on the technology being available and the financial incentives to make sense,” Coates continues.

The volume of gas flared hit a peak in 2016. Governments, oil companies, and development institutions around the world have been encouraged to endorse the World Bank’s “Zero Routine Flaring by 2030” initiative. Current levels of gas flaring cause more than 300 million tons of CO2to be emitted into the atmosphere.