Action 3.2: Close monitoring and progress reporting within the Zero Routine Flaring by 2030 initiative
The Zero Routine Flaring by 2030 is a World Bank led initiative endorsed by all the oil and gas producing countries in the Arctic region (Canada, Denmark, Norway, Russia, and the US). Several EU Member States (e.g. France, Germany and the Netherlands) have also endorsed it.
Secondary: Information and guidance (for policy makers)
According to the initiative text:
“Governments that endorse the Initiative will provide a legal, regulatory, investment, and operating environment that is conducive to upstream investments and to the development of viable markets for utilization of the gas and the infrastructure necessary to deliver the gas to these markets. This will provide companies the confidence and incentive as a basis for investing in flare elimination solutions. Governments will require, and stipulate in their new prospect offers, that field development plans for new oil fields incorporate sustainable utilization or conservation of the field’s associated gas without routine flaring. Furthermore, governments will make every effort to ensure that routine flaring at existing oil fields ends as soon as possible, and no later than 2030.”
This initiative has the potential to substantially reduce black carbon emissions from gas flaring in the Arctic and beyond. Unfortunately, though important progress has been achieved in some countries (e.g. Kazakhstan, Nigeria), gas flaring volumes have also increased in some parts of the world. Careful monitoring of progress towards the 2030 zero routine flaring target is thus required.
The World Bank already reports progress on the Annual Upstream Flare Volumes by the endorser (self-reported). In addition, independent assessment of the volume of gas flared by countries, or operators are crucial to ensure that progress towards targets is credible. Monitoring can be performed e.g. using satellite data or aerial surveys. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has published annual flare specific and country wide estimates of the volume of gas flaring, providing an important insight in the progress made by the countries. According to this data, in 2018 about 38 billion m3 of gas was flared in the Arctic Council states.
A couple of the remaining challenges should be highlighted:
- There are some challenges in reconciling data between different sources of information;
- Reporting of routine flaring implies that an operator reports the cause of the flaring (and not only the volume). Though splitting gas flaring by root cause is possible (example), in practice, most international reports will focus on the volume of gas flared irrespectively of whether the flaring is considered “routine” or “non routine”;
- Unlit and malfunctioning flares can represent a significant source of methane and non-methane volatile organic compound emissions that are not always or poorly detected by some gas flaring remote monitoring techniques. It is thus critical that the monitoring programme is designed to estimate also the volume of gas vented, combining black carbon and methane detection and quantification technologies with technologies to quantify amounts of flared and vented gas.