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posted by CoolHand on Tuesday January 12 2016, @09:21PM   Printer-friendly
from the out-of-control-gas dept.

According to satellite data estimates, 350 million tons of natural gas were wastefully burned at the wellhead in 2012, about 3.5% of worldwide natural gas production. To put this into perspective, this amount of natural gas could provide electrical power to the entire continent of Africa. The CO2 emissions from natural gas flares are roughly equivalent to 10% of all CO2 emissions of the European Union.

The problem, as you might surmise, is the handling and transportation of the natural gas produced as a by-product of oil wells in areas without the infrastructure to handle gas. In addition, some gas produced as oil by-product has relatively low levels of methane. Russia flares more natural gas than any other nation, followed by Iraq, Iran, Nigeria, Venezuela, Algeria, and the United States.

The World Bank is trying to stop all routine flaring of natural gas by 2030. North Dakota and New Mexico are taking steps to reduce gas flares.

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  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by jdavidb on Tuesday January 12 2016, @10:18PM

    by jdavidb (5690) on Tuesday January 12 2016, @10:18PM (#288819) Homepage Journal

    There's some part of the story missing here, in any event:

    The World Bank is trying to stop all routine flaring of natural gas by 2030

    Okay, why does it require coercion to stop it? This much gas would surely be a great investment for somebody to start harvesting. The only reason given in the article why the gas is burned instead of harvested is "lack of infrastructure." Well, why is it not in somebody's best economic interest to build such infrastructure?

    ⓋⒶ☮✝🕊 Secession is the right of all sentient beings
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  • (Score: 5, Informative) by VLM on Tuesday January 12 2016, @10:48PM

    by VLM (445) on Tuesday January 12 2016, @10:48PM (#288830)

    Ah OK good point, I made fun of all the linked articles for containing no technical details but didn't explain myself.

    Processing natgas is extremely expensive both economically and environmentally although it scales up beautifully. So if you've got a freak'n giant well like the blowout well in the gulf some years back, if it hadn't blown up the cost of processing and piping would have been minimal. But there's no such thing as a small natgas processing and compression plant. And nobody's got a solution to transport issues. The cost of pipelines, both economic and environmental, is huge no matter if you flow a lot or a little.

    You can "easily" (given access to sensitive budgeting data) come up with a model where you burn all natgas flows below X Cu Ft per day.

    It would be interesting in high tech utopia land to invent a magic way involving drones or something to gather all that natgas.

    The complaining about it is much like wanna be engineers when they learn about worthless process heat in a plant. Sometimes there's energy, that added up across the world adds up to a hell of a lot, but its too diffuse of a source, or too unusable, so dumping it is actually the most economic and environmentally sound thing you can do.

    There is no such thing as a gas well or an oil well, all wells are somewhere along the spectrum of both, and its an unfortunate fact of life that some wells are productive and profitable as oil sources but not as gas sources. So you flare the gas and then people who know nothing have plenty of complaints and answers.

    And no you can't generally ship oil with gas dissolved in it, because much like corn syrup soda, once you pump the oil out of the ground and its pressure drops to atmospheric instead of a bazillion PSI underground, the gas fizzes out. "lots of crude" is more or less saturated with methane and all the other hydrocarbons. You can actually dissolve a heck of a lot of butane in liquid toluene/benzene aka "gasoline", its just as piped out of the ground there's too much to dissolve!

    • (Score: 2) by jdavidb on Tuesday January 12 2016, @11:00PM

      by jdavidb (5690) on Tuesday January 12 2016, @11:00PM (#288838) Homepage Journal
      Cool post, and informative. That was absolutely not what I was expecting to find, but I knew there had to be some reason why people weren't snatching all that gas up and selling it and why the picture of "natural gas waste" that was painted in the article wasn't quite the whole story. Thanks!
      ⓋⒶ☮✝🕊 Secession is the right of all sentient beings