Action 3.1: Gas flare research and development
A number of studies have been performed over the last 10 years which have enabled a better understanding of the challenges with emissions from gas flaring (Stohl et al. 2013, Conrad and Johnson 2017, Cho et al. 2019), but a number of questions remain open on the black carbon yield depending on the type of flare, the rate of gas flaring, the composition of the gas and the weather conditions.
Secondary: Information and guidance for policy makers
Gas-flaring-related black carbon emission rates are currently only estimated from a generic database on emission factors and flaring volumes. Therefore, further quantitative understanding and in-depth assessments of gas-flaring-derived black carbon in the Arctic region is important and could be enhanced through the promotion of new field measurement studies.
One of the relevant further actions is to incentivise, promote, or encourage performing new on-site field measurements of black carbon emission rates (and flare gas volume-specific black carbon yields) for a diverse range of flares relevant for the Arctic region. Using established techniques, such as the sky-LOSA (line-of-sight attenuation using skylight) optical measurement techniques, could be suitable - in harmony with comprehensive Monte Carlo-based uncertainty analysis. The measurements campaigns could be combined with measurements of combustion efficiency to gain in parallel a better understanding of the methane emissions depending on various parameters.
As black carbon flare gas volume-specific yields have shown to be strongly correlated with flare gas heating values (i.e.: higher BC yields at higher gas heating values - from natural gas liquids still entrained in the flare gas), a particularly useful strategy when undertaking new measurements could include parallel on-site measurements of flare gas flow rates as well as analysis of the gas composition. This could enable the establishment of a more comprehensive dataset relevant for Arctic flares. New field measurements could furthermore be performed at a subset of locations across order to enable direct measurements of “fuel-specific BC yields” from flares under Arctic field conditions.
A potentially enabling mechanism for such R&D efforts is to utilise the Arctic Council mechanisms of investing in pilot projects as showcases to develop and enhance knowledge build-up. If the work with tailoring and making use of pilot projects can be further strengthened, it could be an important step to build up knowledge around gas flaring emission reductions. Pilot projects could then be pooled together by forming long-term strategies for information sharing between different projects, strategies on how to build knowledge based on the results of the projects and how to follow the projects for a longer period. Issues of how to apply different actions and technology changes in local areas deserves deeper analysis enabled by pilot projects. Further coordination between the Arctic Council working groups and efforts to cooperate with the research and innovations funds of the AC states, as well as coordination with the CCAC and the World Bank Zero Routine Gas Flaring initiative, may facilitate such enhanced effort.